Hard Kandy 7th Birthday @ The Metro, Melbourne (20/10/06)

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You know it’s going to be a good night when the doorman plays Hokey Pokey with you when you enter the club. And it was!

I went to Hard Kandy twice when it was at Billboards. I remember loving the music, the energy of the punters, the weird clothing they wore and their colourful bracelets and stuffed toys. I remember being concerned that some of them were still dependent on pacifiers but accepted that not all parents were as cruel as I was. I wasn’t a Kandy kid but I wanted to be. They were so young and energetic. They seemed to belong to a secret society and were dedicated to their music and their club. Unfortunately, Hard Kandy no longer exists as a weekly institution but every now and then the Hard Kandy stalwarts organize events, which subscribe to the same formula that made the club so popular.

For their 7th Birthday, Hard Kandy brought together three huge international DJs in the hard trance scene and supported them with an excellent line-up of locals playing a variety of genres. In keeping with the birthday theme, the Metro was appropriately decorated and gifts were given out. Lots of Kandy kids placed glow bracelets on the wrists of as many people as they could and a lovely young man gave me a flashing toy. I may be a bit past bouncy castles and pin-the tail on the donkey but I couldn’t help but get into the general feeling of celebration on display.

Dr. Willis was ripping it up on the main floor when I arrived. There wasn’t a huge crowd milling around the bar, but the dance floor was already packed with eager shufflers. Boy, can these kids dance. They were fast and furious and I was quite content watching them coz there was no way I could keep up with them. NFX was up next and he played some brilliant tracks. I kept trying to go upstairs to check out the other rooms but it was hard to leave.

There were two rooms on the second level. The Pirotechnics crew ran the Glass Room, overlooking the main floor. If you don’t know who Piro is by now, then you haven’t been going out enough. It is hard to miss a 6-foot 5inch tall “hunk of spunk” in black and white checked trousers! He is the man behind the Peppermint parties held at The Apartment, not to mention hosting several other rooms at big Melbourne events. His recent achievements are even more remarkable considering he only recently turned 21!

I think what I enjoy most about the Pirotechnics productions, is their innovation. They are not afraid to step outside of the square. Over the course of Friday night, I heard breaks, electro, hard trance and a superb selection of uplifting melodic trance tracks performed by Ben Jackson and Calvinator. Nothing gets a room going more than “When the Rush Comes” and “Adagio for Strings.” The success of this room wasn’t entirely due to the music. The decorations were an added bonus and the friendliness and enthusiasm of the crew were infectious.

The Melbourne Shuffler room was a surprise to me. I’m not sure why it was called this because when I first went in there I thought I had time traveled to Earthcore. There was an undeniable psy-trance sound coursing through the speakers but with, what I call, a heavy metal element. Benny Drohan and Ben Kakoshke were the masters behind this amazing sound. I wasn’t the only one confused by this room. A young fellow asked me whether he could buy some weed because “wasn’t this the psy-trance room?” How presumptuous! Naturally, I sent him on his way. The lasers in this room were fantastic and the music continued to impress for the rest of the night. What Hard Kandy achieved by having these two rooms, was to bring together the Melbourne dance community. Doofers and clubbers rubbed shoulders and were given the opportunity to appreciate each other’s genre of choice.

The fact that I have already written so much already without even mentioning the internationals is proof that Melbourne has a superb array of local DJs. We can see them anytime but still want to see them at the big events. They can hold their own with the big names in trance and I hope some of them have the opportunity one day to show the rest of the world their talents.

Dark by Design aka Gaz West is a big DJ – both physically and musically, he is awesome, with a personality to match. He plays hard trance to perfection and had the dance floor literally jumping. The floor was like a trampoline. The highlight of this set, for me, was his remix of the old anthem “Cocaine”. The original version of this track is certainly dated now, but Dark by Design has modernized it and I hope it gets played a lot more around Melbourne. Gaz interacted with the crowd and clearly enjoys doing what he does.

I didn’t think it could get much better after this, but Captain Tinrib somehow managed to take us to another level again. His driving, relentless hard trance/hard dance reminded me of Frantic parties at times and the construction of his set was polished. I apologise for not knowing any track names but from the reaction of the crowd, I gather they were renowned. It is only when you listen to internationals like Tinrib that you realize how important it is for DJ’s to be exposed to the European and British scenes. I have noticed time and time again, that although our DJ’s are technically competent, they lack the musical breadth and depth of their UK, Dutch and German etc counterparts. In all fairness, though, both Dark by Design and Captain Tinrib have been at this game for many years, which also contributes to the impressiveness of their performances.

Tommy Pulse was the third international to play. I regret to say I hadn’t heard of him before but will certainly see him again if he heads Down Under in the future. It amazes me how Holland can produce so many great DJ’s. I chatted to Tommy at PHD later Saturday morning and he struggles against the Big Names. He has played at Dance Arena and other big European parties, but his name doesn’t stand out against the likes of Tiesto and AVB. To my ear though, he plays some fine hard trance, again with that driving sound and rhythm which we love. When asked how he had enjoyed playing at Hard Kandy, he said that it had been a wicked experience and he wasn’t just saying this. He was truly pumped and I doubt this will be the only time he graces our shores.

The Hard Kandy 7th birthday was a resounding success. Great venue, great DJs and enthusiastic, happy punters. Congratulations and many happy returns!


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