Derrick Carter @ Billboards, Melbourne (30/01/09)

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This was the first time I’d ever been to Billboards. The first time should have been last week when I missed out on Carl Cox’s annual Melbourne show. But, as fate would have it, it was not by Cox’s driving techno beats that I would be introduced to this revamped venue. Instead, it was by the more melodic cadences of house music by one of the greatest exponents of the art, Derrick Carter.

For my money this was probably the best name playing last Friday, and in the early stages of the night the crowd was thick on the dancefloor. There were some good tunes playing leading up to Carter’s set. Inadvertent heights of hilarity were achieved, though, when the DJ preceding Carter was literally wheeled off the stage before the curtains fell behind him and the main man was revealed. It was a pretty spectacular set-up, with lots of big monitors and a raised DJ booth behind which Carter set about wasting no time getting down to business.

He started with an aggressive beat that re-defined the mood of the night. It took me a little while to adjust to his approach but within about fifteen minutes I was in the palm of his hand. Carter’s sound is an appealing mix of soulful house, with lots of vocals, brass and piano samples, but with an underlying driving tech-house beat. Carter calls it “boompty house” after his production studio Boompty HeadQuarters (BMQ). I wasn’t familiar with any of the tracks he played; however I recognised some of the samples, James Brown included. Still, days later some of those tracks continue to pop into my head.

On the night itself, however, the crowd seemed to thin out a bit early. Maybe Melbournians are just not as well acquainted with this sound as they are with funkier house styles or other musical genres. I felt the crowd could have got into the music a bit more than they did. Either that or Carter could have read the crowd better. Nevertheless, it was still a rollicking good night showcasing some fresh tunes, a distinctive style and a legend of the dance music scene.

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