Turntables on the Harbour feat. Nickodemus @ The Lady Rose, Sydney (23/02/08)
Fri 29th Feb, 2008 Event Reviews 2258 viewsin
It is a truth universally acknowledged that we do like to be beside the seaside. In Sydney however, being beside the sea isn’t always enough, though. We like to be on the harbour, preferably on board some kind of purpose-built nautical vessel designed to hold friends, beer and music. In New York by contrast, the absence of a harbour nearly as impressive as ours means that the Hudson River is the body of water of choice for such maritime endeavors. Why you ask, is that relevant? Well, because New York DJ and producer Nickodemus has been running parties in New York called Turntables on the Hudson in one form or another since 1998. Tonight, he was bringing that vibe for the first time to Sydney, with a stellar crew of locals to help him (under the watchful organisational eye of the fine people who put on the Jembe! Nights parties, of course).
Getting down to the Star City Wharf a little early for the advertised dusk-ish kick-off, I decided to grab a beverage at the casino. It didn’t take long for me to remember just why it was that the last time I grabbed a beverage in Star City was some time in 1997. However, without too much further ado, the Lady Rose had arrived and we were on board. The Lady Rose is one of Sydney’s best “harbour cruise with tunes” options, with two “rooms” and the open-air upper deck providing three flavours of tunage for discerning party goers. The ever-excellent Frenzie was souling it out on the ground floor “main room”, but when you’ve got an open air room, the main room is not, at sunset, going to be the main chance. So I headed up to the top deck where Toon was playing some super-cool California soul and some laid back hip-hop.
I noticed, as we circled Darling Harbour, that we seemed to be circling Darling Harbour, doing doughnuts or croissants, or whatever kind of baked goods are shaped like the sort of shape a catamaran describes as it stooges around Darling Harbour. As it turned out, this was because we had missed some party people on the first loading. But we picked them up, and we were off down the harbour. As the sun started to set the breeze picked up, so I wandered downstairs to catch some of Paul Jonas’ set. Jonas is the co-owner of Tru Thoughts, so as you might expect, there was a label bias in his set (*Belleruche, Alice Russell* and the Hot 8 Brass Band’s manically brilliant reading of Sexual Healing.) But when the label’s that good, nobody’s complaining. At this stage, ‘reviewer’s wander’ kicked in, and after warming up with a little live percussion from Garrido playing with Mark Walton, I wandered downstairs to check out Mo’Horizons who then gave way to Nickodemus.
And if there’s one guy who ought to be encouraged to take his turntables around the planet and set them up on available bodies of water on a more regular basis, that guy most certainly is Nickodemus. I sometimes find it hard to get as excited about DJ sets as I do about live music, but this was the set that restored my faith, not least because there was just so much going on in the music that you felt there had to be at least a couple of spare percussionists and some horns stashed around the place somewhere. The music was just pouring out of the speakers in torrents, and when someone dancing next to me asked me “Man, have you ever heard music this funky?”, I had to answer that I hadn’t.
Not of course, that the other floors were letting the side down at this point. A quick wader out for air found Huwston on the top deck playing Mitchell & Dewbury Band’s Beyond the Rains as the city glistened across the water behind him, and on the middle deck Rephrase had his saxophone in hand (reeding the crowd, one assumes) as he jammed over some of his tracks and some others. But the night was about Nickodemus, and I was drawn back downstairs to hear what else he had brought with him. He finished with his own track Funky in the Middle, but the set was not just funky in the middle, it was funky everywhere.
So to the Jembe Nights! people for booking the acts, the boat and the weather, I raise my glass. And to Nickodemus I’d say that if you think our harbour is a mite better looking that the Hudson Rover, we sure would like to have you back some time.