Sensation @ Telstra Dome, Melbourne (31/12/08)
Mon 5th Jan, 2009 Event Reviews 16478 viewsin
What is the biggest New Years party in Melbourne? How big is this scene with over 60,000 tickets sold for back to back dance parties for 2008/09? For the past 6 or 7 years its been Summadayze, but now we have a new contender, with an absolutely stunning debut from Sensation at the docklands’ Telstra Dome.
It hit us from the moment we walked in, having negotiated massive crowds to be met with the most amazing dance spectacle Melbourne has seen. Telstra stadium was converted to the biggest dancefloor ever in Australia, complimented by comprehensive and stunning décor, based around the “Oak of Love” – a pulsing, organic looking inflated extension that grew from the DJ, rose and branched out across most of the floor. Everyone’s view was near perfect.
We wandered around familiarising ourselves with the layout – it was just huge. The stadium seems even bigger when you are in the middle of it. Text messages just weren’t working so catching people was impossible and my wife and I realised we were probably on our own. But lo and behold, 10 minutes later we walked into our crew – literally. Awesome stuff, amazing luck and really put a smile on the dial.
Erick Morillo was on when we took the floor and rather than taking it too easy, pumped out a few classics, mixed well, playing to the crowd with Foo Fighters remixes, a Sweet Dreams mash up and the anthemic With or Without You. Good fun as the crowd got themselves settled and into the groove.
The crowd for the most part was awesome, with every aspect of white outfits covered. Unlike the Armin party of 2007, it was predominantly head to toe in all white including storm troopers, karate kids, sailors, nurses, doctors, orderlies, biohazard suits, slinky numbers, fairies, deviants, slobs and of course, the full spread of guys resplendent in white footy shorts and fake tan. Amazing effect to see 40,000 people on a dance floor, dressed in white and acting as the canvas for the stunning lighting, laser and pyrotechnics show that pulsed and electrified the event.
Local heroes John Course and Grant Smillie were next up, given the all important midnight slot. The lead up was a good selection of tracks, but it was all build as the countdown was periodically displayed on one of a dozen huge screens around the arena. With a few minutes before midnight, the build up gave way to the Sensation countdown as the biggest dance party in Melbourne’s history welcomed in 2009 in style, colour and with hundreds of thousands of passionate embraces, kisses and warm wishes for the new year.
About then, the party should have really started, but like someone said nearby “I think Smillie hit the wrong button” as the music went a little fragmented, but it suited us as we caught up, chatted, refuelled on drinks and food and got back into the party. The music post midnight was actually perfect for the moment. It’s always post countdown that the New Years party really starts.
It took maybe half an hour for it to kick off again as Course dropped God is a DJ and the crowd dropped into their stride as the music took shape, the lighting really kicked in again and the Sensation show started.
Sensation is a dance party, but is so much more of a an experience and was the perfect format for a New Years Eve event. There were dancers suspended from high wires in massive balloons, which burst in a shower of glitter and lighting and many more around the DJ booth. At least 2 live singers got up and strutted their stuff and played an important part of the energetic stage show which did not miss a beat through the night. The dancers, performers and installation art were absolutely awesome.
Headliner Fedde Le Grand was next up and the crowd loved it. His set was incredibly complex and well constructed, delivered through a brilliant sound system. Some may argue it wasn’t loud enough, but the quality was good, great to dance to and Fedde made the most of it. Rather than dropping whole tracks, he regularly mixed in intro’s like Clocks and Infinity before leading into other songs entirely. It worked at keeping the crowd up and rocking and sustaining an energy level throughout his set. I would have loved an anthem moment, but that’s the trance head in me talking.
Fedde played up to and including The Release, a scripted Sensation moment with voiceovers, lighting and visuals which brought the crowd back down, got the mood focused, hands in the air and Fedde launched again as the party continued.
At about 2:15 I farewelled my better half and we wandered to the second floor observation area to get an overall view of the arena. Arguably it was the best dance party view I have seen. The floor was still pretty packed with about 30,000 under the umbrella of the white oak. The lasers were numerous and powerful and after a rest it was time to be drawn back into the fun and energy filled main dance floor.
Marco V was next up and began what was probably the best set as such in its own right for the night. He moved across genres, from the house end to electro influenced sounds to trance. Gone were the distractions of midnight and staged events and time for a bit more of a journey, albeit not an epic. Sensation, especially on a New Years eve, is about the people, the event, the time, reflection, friends and an experience to which the music is still central but complimented by so much more.
So taking that all into account, my mate summed it up best with “Dude, we will be talking about this party in a decade”. He then hugged me and we talked drivel for a bit. It was the biggest party, with the best production, attention to detail and attended by a really, really good crowd, reflected in police figures throughout the state as one of the best behaved on record. Without being amazing, the music was good , but I was happy with it just about all night, which really is all you could ask for.
Was it the best dance parties Melbourne has seen? You could only say no based on the fact that over the years, we have been blessed with some amazing parties and moments, and so how could everyone agree on a best? What is it in fact which makes something the best? It’s the sum of the parts and Sensation brought that together by delivering across many fronts.
I can easily say with tonnes of big name parties under my belt, that it is in the top 3 for me. I had a ball and I imagine there are 40,000 or so sore heads today, some of which who may be attempting to back up at Summadayze, who would also agree it was a night that wont be forgotten.
With a sell-out debut, Sensation is here to stay and in doing so, may shift the balance of the Melbourne party scene for the decade to come.