Shore Thing feat. Fatboy Slim @ Bondi Beach, Sydney (31/12/05)

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I was sitting on the couch late one night a while back, idly channel surfing, when I stumbled across some footage of a massive beach party. I couldn’t get over the size of the crowd, their excitement and the awesome vibe that you could literally feel through the TV. I was so taken by it I hopped online the next day to find out what I’d been witnessing and sure enough twas Sir Norman playing to a few hundred thousand at Brighton in the UK. When I learned that Fuzzy would be hosting an Australian version of this for NYE on our own vastly superior hub of beach culture at Bondi I could barely contain my excitement.

Transport to the venue was not quite as simple as advertised and it was a mad new year’s rush through the Sydney transport network before I finally made it to the venue. But really this is all part of the fun and when I stepped off the bus and caught my first glimpse of the set-up, I knew I was going to be in for a good night. James Taylor had been given the honour of an hour and a half warm-up (Mr Wall must have had other plans) and he did a remarkably good job playing to such a massive amped up crowd. He didn’t really stick to a genre although to my delight the last half hour or so was pretty focused around breaks. The Stanton’s mix of Feel Good Inc got played, some Dizzee Rascal for the bad boys, the Bass Kleph and Thayer mix of Feelin Kinda Strange, and Stanton Warriors - Blue were a few of the highlights.

The set up was really something to be marveled at and you could tell a lot of forethought and planning (not to mention money) had gone into it. At first I was fooled into thinking they had added another stage when I spied a stack of speakers with a dancefloor that was playing out of time with the main array. When I ventured a little closer I discovered that they had actually set up several delayed speaker stacks in various corners of the venue essentially making separate mini dancefloors. The idea worked like a charm allowing people to wander and get away from the crush at the main stage, in fact it almost felt like a multi stage event except that everyone was hearing the same set (actually there was a second stage inside the pavilion but it remained hopelessly empty throughout the night). Add to this a fully fledged amusement ride set-up, relatively short drink queues, plenty of seating and chill-out space, and you know why Fuzzy have earned a reputation as the best in the biz.

As the final minutes of 2005 ticked away you could feel the tension building, the countdown began and we were treated to our own mini fireworks display, then as the timer hit zero and the crowd roared dance music’s most recognisable riff (from Born Slippy rang out). It then turned into a mash-up with Right Here Right Now, and gazing out over the beach, seeing all those happy smiling faces, this was probably the defining moment of the night. Predictable, yes, but I couldn’t have asked for anything else. For the next three hours Fatboy Slim kept the vibe alive with what could well be dubbed the ultimate party set. The atmosphere was incredible, everyone looked like they were having the night of their life and the set barely slumped for the full three hours (no mean feat). Sure the track selection was a little clichd and his beat-mixing was a bit under par for such a high profile act, but this was never going to be a night for the chinstrokers. Norman is an entertainer and entertain is what he did. He is probably the most active and amusing DJ I’ve ever seen and the stage was perfectly set up to view his antics.

With a range of styles from a range of eras, there were far too many songs to list (there are copies of the Triple J broadcast as well as tracklistings floating around on the net, check the ITM Sydney forum HERE for more details) and enough different music played so that everyone would hear at least one personal favourite. The highlight for me was DJ Icey - Acid Conga, though judging by the dancefloor’s reaction I think I may have been the only one. The mixing was fast and furious with lots of quick chopping and changing between tracks, plenty of accapellas, mash-ups and remixes and of course a healthy dose of classics, from Billie Jean to Seven Nation Army.

The music, however, was only half the show. The stage itself was a giant screen which kept scrolling through all manner of appropriate and entertaining messages, such as “Faster, Harder, Louder”, “Fuck in Heaven”, and my personal favourite “Dance Bitch!” The lighting set-up was impressive to say the least and with Bondi Beach as a backdrop the visual feast more than made up for missing the fireworks and the giant pulsating heart on the Harbour Bridge. Another excellent feature which I somehow missed out on experiencing myself was the 3d glasses being handed out which when worn caused smiley faces to appear in the midst of the fireworks, a great concept which I hope more festival promoters will latch on to.

The time passed all too quickly and at 3am we were turned loose on the city. Despite harsh warnings from the police the party rolled onto the beach and Bondi fell hostage to groups of drunken revellers keen to see the first sunrise of 06. The majority of punters however were able to get home via the very well organised shuttle bus service to Bondi Junction in order to get a bit of shut eye before Field Day. All up this would rate as one of my best NYEs ever and I know I wasn’t the only one. Although there are some pretty negative opinions floating around from people who listened to the set on Triple J, I urge you to pay them no heed, this was definitely one of those things where you just had to be there and I’ve yet to find someone who regretted paying the $130.

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