Tribe NYD @ Brown Alley, Melbourne (01/01/2012)

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The inspiration of multiple Melbourne crews, this New Years Day bash took over staple venue Brown Alley with jungle inspired decor, innovative visuals and a swathe quality of international artists and local support. Genres be damned, the artists mixed and matched as they pleased all evening to an enthusiastic and friendly crowd. With the most consistently good music I've ever heard at any one Melbourne gig, Tribe has set a new standard for future broken beat events.

By 10:30, there was already a sizable (though quick moving) line outside. Inside, the sound quality was superior to what I'm used to hearing at Brown Alley, in both the downstairs main room and Blights bar upstairs. I'm not sure what extra tweaking or speakers were added but the results were well worth it.

Tribal decor abounded, with stretched banners across the ceiling, and shields made of bright led light ropes topping the stage. A 3 by 5 metre installation of flashing star lights complemented the brilliant lasers and lighting. The icing on the cake was the main room sound being piped to the mezzanine level – providing a slightly cooler and less crowded space to enjoy the main acts.

Unfortunately, the club is still as unpleasantly hot and sticky as it has ever been – surely with sell out events like this it wouldn't bankrupt Brown Alley to install some air conditioning?

We arrived to Melbourne's own Nick Thayer belting out bouncy, dirty electro breaks to an enthusiastic crowd. Like all of the following main room sets, the music was extremely varied with a mix of dubstep, breaks, glitch hop and electro house with a dose of tribal, reggae and fidget for good measure. His cheesy samples and air-horn topped it off. The wide appeal of the set had him filling both the main room and most of the mezzanine level early on.

The ever popular rooftop garden bar had been turned into a beach, complete with sand, beach umbrellas, bamboo screens, and bright plasma screens. This sound system had not been pimped, and levels were a bit low, perhaps to keep the neighbours happy and the space more chilled. Tommy Showtime spun some funky jazzy breaks and groovy glitch hop and Agent 86 was a popular set, packing it out with funk. At one point, the line to get in stretched down an entire floor around the stair well. Unfortunately, it was so smoky that it was difficult to spend long intervals outside enjoying it.

A-skills, also of the UK, took over in the main room with some ultra funky soulful breaks, hip hop, old school, rock and Motown. Showing off his quality scratching skills he had the excited crowd saying “YEAH for the funky beats". He played stacks of great artists: Girl Talk, Daft Punk, Stevie Wonder, Jackson Five and Blur to name a few.

He varied from heavy and driving to more funky breaks, playing many of his own productions. The flow was excellent, and his seamless mixes were done skilfully off laptop, two CDJs, and a turntable – quite the setup! The set built into faster and more energetic tunes, with quick cuts to old school Pendulum, Prodigy and Queen. The crowd lapped up the creative and inventive selection, both dance-floors packed for the entire set.

Altruism is not an act I am familiar with, but I was quickly won over by the deep rolling bass, driving rhythms, and warm melodies that formed his liquid drum'n'bass set. The set rolled along smoothly with the occasional soulful vocal and no epic breakdowns or windups to disturb the flow of dancing. I was grateful that the MC showed unusual restraint and in doing so enhanced this set. This set, like the others, really benefited from the tweaked sound-system in Blights. He finished the set to a packed room, finishing with slower funky beats and rich bass that warming it down a bit for Mr Bukem.

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