Trust Us NYE @ Brown Alley, Melbourne (31/12/2010)

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After a most successful 2009 event, which brought nearly 2500 punters to ring in the new year together, Melbourne’s underground dance music crews Darkbeat, Sunny, Against The Grain and Brown Alley again put together another club sized Trust Us NYE bash with a festival sized line-up. Tonight’s gig featured no less than five separate dance floors, cleverly utilising the angles of the club to provide more spaces without any sound interference, all packed with the crispest and powerful speaker rigs I’ve ever heard.

Arriving just before midnight, I made my way up to the garden bar, hoping to catch the countdown to midnight. No countdown ended up happening, but scores of fireworks painted the open sky above the dance floor, to the cheering of the packed crowd, as Nick Curly pumped out deep funky tech. The sound out here was several times better I’ve ever heard it be before, crisp loudness easily heard all across the rooftop, and Nick used it well, playing a smooth mix of styles, including some vocal progressive house and other more techno beats.

Inside, I could hear dirty breaks rolling from the upstairs main room Blights Bar, where Freq Nasty was ripping the dance floor up. He played quite a loud and energetic set, with excellent flow that showcased his mixing skill. A standout classic was the tune Whoomp! There It Is! by Tag Team. All too soon it was 12:30, and Freq finished things off energetically, grinning at the crowd over the booth and looking like he’d had a great time playing.

Citizen.com took over, opening with slow throbbing breaks, and live freestyled lyrics by MC Sponk. Citizen’s set showcased his live scratching and funky mixing over generally darker, harder breaks; quite full-on and dirty.

Wanting something slightly lighter for a change, I ventured down a level to the Mezzanine, where again the sound was amazing. Kazu Kimura was playing deep techno beats out a booth enclosed in big ‘teeth’ above and below the decks. Meanwhile ripped plastic hung from the ceiling, flashing different colours as the light-up disco dancefloor went off underneath the crowd. Kimura’s sound was dominated by hissing treble hi-hats and deep rhythmic beats, woven together with excellent progression and keeping the room crowded.

Heading downstairs one more level, the ground floor ‘Restaurant’ room was a cool cavern lit by skewers of coloured light from the smoky ceiling, and nicely breezy thanks to a massive fan revolving at the front of the dancefloor. Steve Lawler was playing very melodic progressive; deep and beautiful to dance to. Ilario Alicante’s Living Near Africa was one of the particularly standout tunes I recognized. No less than seven big plasma screens lit the room eerily with synchronized visuals from the front, tailored to each DJ’s set.

A little later I ventured back upstairs to Blights Bar to see the Freestylers’ start. Their opening was impressive, with trumpeting, gladiator-esque drums and sci-fi samples, before rolling into their first track, slow-paced and full of deep throbbing bass. True to their name, their set was a big mix of different sounds, including breaks, more poppy tunes, dubstep, and even some fast drum & bass. All too soon they finished strongly with Pendulum’s Fasten your Seatbelts.

Flip vs Dstract, who I hadn’t heard of before, took over with hip-shaking breakbeats, working the crowd. Their progression was great, moving into deeper brooding beats and back to fast driving breaks, keeping the dancefloor packed right up to their smooth finish.

The UK’s Soul of Man, was on next. He ripped out a most energetic set of pumping nu-skool breaks and dirty electro, with little in the way of vocals. His set, played on the new Traktor Kontrol S4 as he grinned the whole time, showcased his excellent crowd reading and track progression. In the last hour his tracks got faster, with several drum & bass tunes and a couple more poppy sounding ones thrown in too. I rate this as my top set of the night, for stellar mixing and the most engaging set selection of tracks.

Needing to cool off, I headed to the Garden Bar, where Chris Fortier was playing bouncy, proggy techno. Very dancey and groovy, it was ideal for the relaxed crowd enjoying the fresh air. Despite several additional fans, the upstairs two rooms were hot and stuffy inside, especially during the most crowded part of the night, from 12 til about 4.

Near 6am, I caught Sebastian Leger playing a live set in the ground floor room, creating lovely deep techno beats. The dancefloor was clearing out a little, allowing a stiff breeze to blow through the crowd from the fan at the front. Though he hails from France, Leger’s tunes had a very Melbourne sounding beat; rhythmic, almost tribal-sounding funky techno.

The crowds were definitely thinning as 7 approached, and the music in all rooms began to take on a more melodic feel. The sky above the Garden bar was growing light, and the newly visible sea of brightly clothed partiers seemed very bright after seven odd hours of dimness. The Mezzanine level was closed now, Leger finished up to a crowd of applause on the ground, and the third floor was dominated by Far Too Loud rocking dirty electro in the main room, while J-slyde dropped classically beautiful Kids by MGMT in the Foyer.

Dead on my feet, I decided finally to give in and head home to get some rest, with difficulty saying my goodbyes to friends and the dancefloor. Trust Us rocked Brown Alley at one of the best and biggest parties I’ve ever had the pleasure to enjoy, and with such variety of standout DJs, I think everyone left happy and exhausted.

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