Harbourlife @ Mrs Macquarie's Point, Sydney (01/12/2012)

Image for Harbourlife @ Mrs Macquarie's Point, Sydney (01/12/2012)

Of all the festivals in Sydney, Harbourlife is unquestionably in the best setting. The opportunity to spend a summer’s day with your mates at Mrs Macquarie’s Point with the water, Opera House, Bridge and skyline spread out before you? Harbourlife is a winner before you even get to the music.

This year, Fuzzy definitely did get to the music. After a no-show in 2011, and a lukewarm reception to the indie-flavoured 2010 event, Fuzzy was doing something different – returning to what Harbourlife did best and welcoming quality house music back to the line-up. U.S. house don Mark Farina? Yes please. Todd Terje’s name on the line-up sealed it – this year, the Harbourlife veterans would be coming out of the woodwork.

The day dawned hot and humid. I’m talking ‘breaking a sweat just standing outside’ hot and humid. But with Terje and Farina to be heard early on (and did I mention the view?), there was to be no respite.

Isaac Tischauer kicked things off with some lovely, cruise-y beats, before Terje’s gorgeous mix of disco and summery house built towards the inevitable floor-melting Inspector Norse. Not only is it one of the tracks of the year, but, as revealed by thousands of punters at Harbourlife, it’s also a cracker to sing along to. The vocal chord workout continued as Terje slid out of Norse to close with a delightful remix of Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody. The worst part about Terje’s set? It had to end after only an hour.

Mark Farina was his standard classy self. There’s two things that Farina delivers: chunky, boppy U.S. house that is ridiculous fun to shake yo’ ass to, and a bit of his own ass-shaking behind the decks. He’s a pleasure to watch as much as he’s a pleasure to listen to. This time around, his energetic set was peppered with surprises like Tracy Chapman’s Give Me One Reason.

The early arrivals who came for Terje and Farina were now well and truly a puddle on the floor, but for many, the best was yet to come. Hamburg’s Adana Twins took the boompty-boomp back a notch and went deeper, but then it was time for a left turn. You see, although Fuzzy did make the genius move of putting house back on the bill, this was in truth a party in two parts – delineated by the setting of the sun and the arrival of Flume.

The local hero has been screaming up the charts of late – literally too, with his album debuting on the ARIA chart at #2 a couple of weeks back. And yes, he toured with Parklife a few months ago and played at Splendour too, but he was bottom of the Harbourlife line-up when it was announced – similar to his opening slot at Field Day this year as the triple j Unearthed winner.

Judging by the thousands and thousands of people going absolutely mental to him at Harbourlife, he’s been well and truly unearthed now. Putting him on in the middle of Harbourlife was a bit jarring – with some dubstep announcing his arrival after the house-y afternoon – but the set then settled into some slower, even soulful stuff, and the crowd went with it. This was as sexy as glitchy, bleepy post-hip hop can get. Flume is known for his remixes, and throwing Notorious B.I.G.’s Juicy into the mix was a nice touch.

The set became less soulful and more about dubstep, with the songs in the final bracket featuring everything up to and including stadium prog – but all with a big brown note in the middle. Older heads weren’t quite sure what was happening, but the vast majority of the crowd certainly did – they were going ca-razy.

Flight Facilities were somewhat of a breather after Flume’s finish, playing lots of melody-heavy floorfillers, and continuing the retro theme of the day with massive anthems like Daft Punk’s Da Funk and Spiller’s Groovejet.

After a day of such novelty tracks, it was time for the one-time mash-up kings 2manydjs to step up and take us home. The electro-rock set was messy, but still included guilty pleasures like Modjo’s Lady (Hear Me Tonight).

Whether you preferred one half of the program or the whole thing, Harbourlife was in general a great event at the hands of Fuzzy. Going back a few years, they were one of the first to introduce things like recycling and water refills, and on a day this hot, the free-flowing water was so very welcome. However, bottled water for $6 was not as well-received, and nor were bar queues that went forever and bar stock that ran out.

Offsetting this were other details, not least a very impressive sound system. The towers of sound placed along the dancefloor were so clear (particularly towards the back) that it rivalled most club set-ups. Kudos for that. So, welcome back Harbourlife. Just like watching Mark Farina, Sydney not only looked good, but from our vantage point it sounded fantastic too.