Shrug pres. Kollektiv Turmstrasse @ One22, Sydney (01/12/2012)

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Saturday night was one of those nights that you couldn’t help but be just a little excited about. Headlining was Germany’s Kollektiv Turmstrase, whose last visit to Sydney spawned a sellout crowd at what used to be Tone. A big space to fill, but fill it they did, and did a bang up job in the process. I’d missed that night, and having heard lots of their music since, had always wondered what it was like.

This time round, the Shrug night would be a ticket-only event across town at One22 – tucked away nicely off Pitt Street and a stone’s throw from Martin Place. The headliners wanted an intimate gig, and an intimate gig they would get, joined by Kyson and YokoO to warm things up, with Shrug-boss himself Dave Stuart on closing duties. It all augured well, and as tickets dried up in the days leading up to the gig, with anticipation, came too a sense of expectation.

A warm exhausting Sydney day meant that everyone was running slower than they perhaps liked, so when doors opened at 10, the crowd was a touch on the light side. Instead of playing to a handful of people, the decision was made to put Kyson on hold until a decent flock had gathered. Stuart bobbed up and warmed the room with some nice deep house in the meantime, while the Adelaide-born but now Berlin-based Kyson roamed the room, and to use political parlance, pressed the flesh – engaging with all and sundry. Having spent time in Sydney before relocating to Berlin, he had spotted more than a few familiar faces, and took the time to reacquaint himself with many of them. In a world of DJs and producers with egos that can sometimes outweigh actual talent, it was a pleasure to see, and he was a delight to chat with.

By 11 though, it was time for him to step up and let his music do the talking, and over the next 90 minutes, he presented us with what truly was beautiful music. Thoughtful, creative, melodic, pretty even: the adjectives could go on. And of course, it was live. Tunes like Soul Person and Ink Ties wooed the crowd gently, and as I stood there taking it all in I pondered: people that think electronic music is all ‘doof doof doof’ and dismiss it based on that assumption – are missing out on a live performer like this weaving some seriously intricate magic. As Kyson ended with his much acclaimed Ocean Tides his talent obvious, and the crowd size having swollen accordingly, it was seriously smooth sailing and an amazing start to the night.

Having hailed from France but now based in Sydney, YokoO is no stranger to the local scene. As a DJ, he commands a strong loyal following; on the production side – he’s got releases on quality labels like Moodmusic, Beef Records, and Kollektiv’s own label, Musik Gewintt Freude. And his talent showed, as he spun us through a solid set, curious at times, but building steadily from what Kyson had laid down, and offering a platform for KT to go on and do whatever they wished. And while he had the crowd – which continued to grow, with some of the Harbourlife crowd making its way down – there was little doubt that we were keen for the headline act.

When they got behind their array of musical instruments, the dance floor was packed, and the vibe was awesome. Opening with their remix of the Fritz Kalkbrenner and Thalstroem tune Blueprint with its achingly yet upliftingly beautiful, ‘who’s gonna take a chance?’ vocal, the crowd was absolutely enthralled. The Germans had started beautifully, and everyone looked to be having loads of fun.

Despite the crowd, and despite the Sydney heat, the night was pushing all the right buttons. I’ve spent many a night in a packed Sydney club (maybe even too many) – unable to move, being shoved left and right, drinks being spilt, and generally sweating like a drug dealer in customs. But on Saturday, it all just worked. Despite the sell-out crowd, the dance floor had a lovely almost collegial spirit, everyone respecting their fellow punter, the air-con had been turned on to awesome, the sound was crisp, there were seats if you wanted them, and those that did not – got their groove on without a worry in the world. Oh, and musically the two dudes at the front just kept delivering.

From their Dead Room to the unmistakable and anything but Ordinary – their 90 minute set was loaded with deep, lush melodic brilliance. Driving at times, hands in the air euphoric at others, theirs was a live performance that I could not fault, and one that left little wonder why their last two visits to Sydney have produced sold out events.

When they handed over duties to (the recognisable by scarf and beard) Stuart, who offered us some good bouncy progressive laced along some melodic techno, it kept the crowd and he played up a storm – and looking to be having a fun time doing it. It was too late in the night for me to remember track names, but he played to the positive emotion that the room had seemingly had all night, and it was appreciated by many. Hell, he even had half of KT dancing to his set.

Before we knew it though, it was close to 5am and it was getting time to pack it all up. It mattered little though: with close to 7 hours of quality music and a tremendous vibe, we’d just experienced one helluva party. If it had been a party a movie, I’d be going back next week just to watch it again.

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