FACT Summer Boat Cruise @ Sydney Harbour, Sydney (17/11/2012)

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I was quietly excited about this cruise. FACT, a brand from Barcelona which has been everywhere at recent Sonar festivals, was launching an assault on the Australian summer. Troy Pierce’s name on the bill was reason enough to board, and the ever-reliable YokoO meant this party would be no one-hit wonder. Oh, wait — cruising Sydney Harbour in the run-up to summer? No further questions.

But as the party neared there was dissent in the ranks, and the tech and house crowds were split across a weekend full of other options — Sydney is truly spoilt for choice this year. Finally, the day dawned grey, and then, on arrival at the wharf, punters were greeted by sniffer dogs, uniformed and undercover police, and police boats floating in the harbour. If it smelt like a poor use of resources, the number of innocent people searched fairly stank.

And so, the boat cast off in a very muted fashion. One room was closed, and even then the crowd was sparse. So many factors were conspiring against this cruise, and some people seemed a little unsure about what they had gotten themselves in for.

But slowly, surely, the party built. YokoO and Bella Sarris were up first, playing a set on the housey side of tech that grooved along. It must have been like a Siren’s call, because in due course the boat’s passengers had gravitated to the dancefloor and a respectable crowd were preparing to let their hair down.

People were ready to get on with the party, and the local DJs, now paired up and playing back-to-back, weren’t going to let them down. By the time YokoO and Bella handed over the decks to Hannah Gibbs and Cassette, the crowd was fairly rocking. The ladies then proceeded to take it up a notch; raising the tempo, bringing the party.

Finally, Gemma Van D jumped on for a bit of straight up techno. Now the party was really heaving, and rightly so. This was absolutely delicious stuff. I was super impressed by the way the music had progressed through the afternoon, steadily lifting and taking the crowd along with it. Top marks for all the locals, you guys did a stellar job.

I was having so much fun that I was slightly disappointed when Gemma threw on a slower track to play in Troy Pierce. Sacrilege? Yup, that’s how good her all-too brief cameo was. But now the headliner was cued up and ready to unleash for a crowd that were certainly excited to hear him.

Troy Pierce played like Troy Pierce. Yes, he shifted down a gear, but the dancefloor quickly readjusted, and Troy built to some pretty slamming moments. He doesn’t have the smooth flow of some other DJs, but that’s not his thing. The journey that he takes you on is more hypnotic, and if you can lock into what he’s doing, then you’re going to like where he takes you.

He certainly covered a lot of ground. From minimalist beats to disco vocals, the set dipped into many styles, with Pierce’s trademark tech glitchiness never far away. I loved the way he toyed the dancefloor with loops that broke out of their original tracks and into the next one – straight out of the Hawtin playbook, and a joy to hear.

For a cruise with no stops along the way, the destination seemed to come quite quickly. The day ended with dancers crowding the decks, cheering, hands in the air. In truth, this was an afternoon of great music, and a far cry from the party’s inauspicious beginnings.

With low ticket sales, stiff competition on a busy weekend and an over-the-top police sniffer dog sting to start things off, this party could have been a massive fail. But the show went on, and it was a winner. Full credit to the promoters, DJs and crowd for delivering a great afternoon on the harbour. They say you get out what you put in. Everyone on the boat got on with it, and the result was sensational.

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