Switch Featuring Oliver Huntemann @ The Arthouse, Sydney (10/01/2009)
Thu 15th Jan, 2009 Event Reviews 3388 viewsin
Since taking over The Arthouse, Paul Strange has snagged some pretty big name acts (including Carl Cox and Fedde Le Grande), and that trend looks set to continue thanks to Switch, which launched last Saturday night. Switch has an admirable mission statement: provide quality music of a variety of genres, employ friendly staff, use a relaxed door policy, and draw in an educated but up-for-it crowd. All the right ingredients for a solid night in anyone’s language, but as we all know, mission statement and mission success are two entirely different things. Thankfully, Switch got it right from the moment the doors opened, and barring a few small hiccups that can be put down to first-night jitters, looks set to become a mainstay of Sydney’s scene and ruffle a few feathers.
Having not been to the Arthouse is over two years, I was keen to see how the place has changed (or perhaps, stayed the same) during my extended vacation. The key, lovable features remain: high ceilings, fresh décor, clean bathrooms and that lovely wooden dancefloor that makes you feel like you’re dancing in your rich uncle’s living room, only without the subsequent shit-fight when he catches you shuffling to some hard trance on his priceless Persian rug. Add to that a timely upgrade to the sound in both rooms, some funky new lighting, and big-ass screens in the mainroom, and you’ve got yourself a venue that feels more like a purpose-built club than a hotel.
Musically, the night was definitely on-point. Defined By Rhythm took care of opening duties in the main room. It was a rare opportunity to catch Pete playing an early set, as he usually takes charge of the peak-time and early-morning slots, and it was a real treat for both him and the punters who made the effort to arrive early. Keeping it simple, stripped-back and groovy, DBR weaved his way through funky, bouncy tech house such as Break New Soil by Gregor Tresher and Reboot’s Vandon, warm, melodic groovers including Miss Jool’s Que Me Levante and a few bits of mechanical minimal tech.
Over in the side room Matt Nukewood was slowly coaxing punters onto the dancefloor, though it was a tough job because there was an issue with dimming the lights properly in the room. Nonetheless, Nukewood soldiered on and built up the floor in the well-lit side room, which if anything says a lot about how good his set was. Sticking mostly to bouncy, funky house cuts, Nukewood played perfectly for the time slot.
Meanwhile, Murat Kilic was about to take over in the main room. The Lost Baggage and Spice resident/promoter has blown up in a big way over the last few months, and it’s easy to see why: he’s fucking good. In fact, I’d say I enjoyed his set even more than Huntemann’s, which is no mean feat, because he was also off-the-chain. Warming up absolutely perfectly for the German visitor, Murat deviated between deep, straight grooves like Rejected’s remix of Movin’ by Skylark, deep, melodic cuts such as his own Red Phobia and some stonking, percussive tech house and techno (including his forthcoming track Bitch Stop) to finish.
When Oliver Huntemann finally stepped up, there was a raucous cheer from the crowd – the first of many to come. And they were all well deserved. In fact, his set was so good I barely got a chance to see any more than about five minutes of Cicada (who were also good). There was a bit of everything of the techy variety for every techy boy and every techy girl: deep, chugging tech house, slamming, aggressive techno and bassline-driven electro-tech. The best thing though was how much of it was fresh and, most likely, unreleased. In fact, about the only tunes I could ID were those he played in his last half an hour when it became the Oliver Huntemann hit parade: 37 Degrees, Diablo, La Boum and his remix of Underworld’s Crocodile.
Xenia Beliayeva was up next and while not everyone seemed interested in sticking around to see what Huntemann’s wife could do, that was their loss. It was the perfect follow on from the H-Man: grinding, dark, and full of bowel-clenching basslines. It was about as German as German electro can get. The only thing that could have possibly made it any more German would have been if she shagged Anthony Rother on stage. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, but she did lay down some sweet vocals over various tunes in the set, including a new collaboration with her husband.
Launch parties are always a dangerous prospect. They promise so much, yet sometimes they deliver so little. Switch, however, has hit the ground running and looks set to maintain that momentum in the future.