Conquest feat. Skazi @ Palace Theatre, Melbourne (11/04/08)

Image for Conquest feat. Skazi @ Palace Theatre, Melbourne (11/04/08)

Following the success of a packed out crowd at Raja Ram, the team from Conquest took it to another level recently, bringing out – arguably – an even more popular headline act, and aiming to fill a significantly bigger venue. Those who love their high-energy psy-trance wouldn’t miss a gig like this for quids.

The venue has now completed their renovations, pushing back the bar area to create a second tier of dancefloor space, significantly larger now than most venues in Melbourne. On walking in, fairly minimal decor was complemented by great lights and the crystal clear sound. On the floor, Orpheus was dishing out something halfway between ambient and psychedelic, and the growing crowd were finding their groove. One song later and anything remotely ambient finished for the evening, replaced by banging, high-quality, psychedelic trance. It was a theme that continued through the night, with very little mercy shown on the exuberant crowd, all of whom stayed on until the end to lap it up.

As many of the loved-up fiends will tell you, psychedelic trance is always a lot better outside due to the complexity of the sound. However Friday night’s sound system was well up to scratch, and it sounded fantastic all night. The lighting, which really kicked in later on, saw multi-coloured lasers which really brought the venue alive, especially the pyro flash when Skazi came on. Space Tribe were set to perform live, and it wasn’t until they begun that I realised I’d seen this guy two or three times before (at various Earthcore and Rainbow Serpent events). He plays a mix of heavily processed vocals, energetic kicks and driving bass, and it really set the scene. It’s pretty hard to go past this sort of act, and the pace, intensity and general hardness he set was always going to make it tough for Skazi to come in over the top. I loved it, and the quality was good enough to make him a headliner in his own right.

At this stage I went for a wander to get some photographs and to check things out upstairs. Moving through the venue I was struck by the truly unique nature of the crowd. You had Israelis fresh from National Service, the Japanese and Asian psy crowd, a small proportion of local crusties, a few candy ravers, even some Indians and Greeks. It was awesome to be amongst so many different people from so many different nationalities, all there for a geniune good time and nothing else. World peace should take a little leaf out of this book. It was just like a Rainbow Serpent vibe but inside a city venue.

Just after 2:30am Skazi hit the decks. I had heard a few comparisons to Infected Mushroom over time, possibly due to the guitar sound, but it was really quite different. The sound was a lot more electronic and typically psychedelic trance. Rather than overdoing the guitar work, it was more a feature that made an appearance every now and then. Sometimes it was to crunch along with a biting rhythm, sometimes it was a heavily processed, and sometimes a screeching solo was belted out, enough to make Kirk Hammett of Metallica proud. Overall, though, the sound was hard, high intensity, high-energy and very banging. I spent almost all of my time on the dancefloor and really enjoyed the crowd. The guys from Skazi really performed, getting right into the vibe of the night, partying along with everyone on the floor. I was stoked.

I didn’t stay around for D-Mak, but my mates who did suggested that again it was another fantastic act. For many, one of the best aspects of this party was that it proved the psychedelic trance sound is back in favour. Thanked god electro is finally making room for something different on your nights out! Apparently Skazi have only been here two or three times in the past seven years; so if it’s something a little outside the box you’re after, then Skazi playing at a Conquest gig is a great place to start.

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