Stereosonic @ Melbourne Showgrounds, Melbourne (05/12/09)

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Stereosonic parties have been running for a couple of years now, and due to the large techno lineup, the 2009 party was to be my first. Heavyweights such as Marco Carola, Umek and Laurent Garnier were on offer this year; too good to miss. I planned to catch Axwell that day as well, and couldn’t resist checking out the Deadmau5 set, just to see what all the fuss was about.

My Stereosonic experience started at around 2 PM amongst a veritable sea of some of the finest human specimens waiting at Spencer St station for the Stereosonic express. It must have been the middle of summer for them, but it was rather cool for me. In an effort to be individuals they all looked the same. It was like a mix between an ABC Learning Centre and the 1980’s. To their credit they all had smiles on their faces and seemed to be having fun, even before we got there.

It wasn’t long before there was a toot toot, the express arrived and like cattle we set off to our destination. Once we squeezed in through the Showgrounds entrance we chose to walk around to familiarise ourselves with the layout, and being hungry, I found time to slam a kransky down my throat.

We then queued for a rather long time solely to buy drink cards, a slightly disappointing way to spend half an hour. While in the queue we were able to listen to John Dahlback, who was playing what you might call handbag house. Lots of vocals, lots of little noises – rather annoying. The others in the queue seemed to like what he was playing, though, and danced along accordingly.

A mere 15 minutes later, we had managed to make some minimal progress around the bin, and with only a couple hundred metres to go, Dahlback started to play techier and deeper stuff, which was a big improvement. After spending 45 minutes in the queue, I decided to jump the line and push in up the front. I got my two drinks and made a beeline to see Marco Carola, who to my delight, was banging out great loopy party techno!

It just goes to show that like Sven Vaeth (and Richie Hawtin before him), Marco Carola obviously believes that if you don’t resort to playing cheese and play good tunes instead, they will come. We moved up closer to the action and by this time Carola had settled into a bit of a groove; just good solid techno. It was crazy-hot in that room, though. The layout reminded us of the Docks parties and the sound was hard to fault.

On the main stage, Miss Kitten and The Hacker were up and it was good to hear some proper electro, which was eclectic as usual.

After a toilet break and narrowly dodging the guy with blood all over his t-shirt, I wandered back to the main stage and caught some Fedde Le Grande. At the time, he was playing Red Hot Chilli Peppers and I would have liked to have him refer to my earlier comment on Mr. Carola.

Speaking of the devil, he smashed it! It was such a well- -put-together set, and he finished on a high for Umek. Talk about starting off awesome, he didn’t drop a beat taking over the decks (or should i say laptop) from Carola, but it was a deeper, more rolling sound. It was rather manic in parts yet melodic in an uniquely Umek sense and very ravey. He did finish with a massive rave anthem, the name escapes me though.

After the brilliance from Carola and Umek, we ventured out to the cool sun and caught some Chicane. They weren’t playing as trancy as I thought they might; it was better actually. Laid back trance with live vocals, they finished with Saltwater.

After a bit of a sit down and chat, we ventured back to see Alter Ego in the techno room. Mike Callender was playing overtime as Alter Ego had not yet started. It was great to hear him play at a festival, as he is just as good as the internationals.

In the meantime, we ventured outdoors to catch some Axwell who I’d seen at Summadayze before and like then, he was the perfect addition to the festival line-up. By now everyone has experienced the Swedish House Mafia sound, and this is what he played.

We went back to see Alter Ego, who had started and was funking it up with lots of rhythmic synths. Following on from Carola and Umek, he was just playing some very good music and it was good to see everyone getting into it once more.

It was getting late in the day; the sun was going down, and the air had cooled somewhat as well. Before my day ended with Garnier, I wanted to catch Deadmau5. I have heard a couple of his early tracks before, but he has grown a lot in popularity since then. Deadmau5 was a lot better than I thought he would be; it was on the tech house tip, with good rhythm partnered with those well-known hooks.

I made my last trip of the day between the two stages and took my place in the techno area. The wait for Laurent Garnier was made all the more tolerable due to Oliver James and Ross who just played some straight up good techno. A highlight was Radio Slave’s Koma Koma.

Not long after Laurent Garnier started, what I found most interesting was the beat. It wasn’t straight up 4/4, it jumped around a lot, but it was still great. It was quite uplifting – not trance, but provoking the same emotion. He moved through a lot of genres and he changed it right up to things like gabba, breaks and drum and bass.

After a slow and frustrating start to the day, it turned out to be a good party. There are always going to be issues when trying to run a party of this size, but to all involved – well done with one of the best parties of the year.

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edbanging said on the 11th Dec, 2009

can anyone shed any light with what went wrong with the beetroots?? started pretty decent as expected then thier sound dropped... was a shame... glad i made the choice to check the croookers rather than deadmau5 at the end...


DFA1979 said on the 15th Dec, 2009

after all the hate ive heard about stereosonic, it's nice to hear someone shares a similar opinion of the day as me. Great review and couldn't agree more