Adult Disco pres. Todd Terje @ Civic Underground, Sydney (08/12/2012)

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Future Classic are a familiar fixture on the Sydney scene at gatherings small and large, but it had been some time since I’d been to Adult Disco, the label and collective’s semi-regular throwdown at the Civic Underground. From the time I arrived at the Civic’s basement space this past Saturday for their last party of the year (and my first in Sydney after being overseas for a while) it seemed to me that the event has only grown, both in attendance and intensity.

Norway’s Todd Terje, who’s fast built a reputation among groove junkies around the world for his superb disco edits and offbeat electro-house jams, may have been the reason for the added buzz, having rocked Adult Disco two years before, and coming off a hot Harbourside gig last week. But the crowd had to wait a while before the Norwegian manned the decks, and his presence alone could not account for their up-for-it-ness. Maybe everyone was super-keen to get one more rocking club night in before the year and/or civilisation ends in a couple of weeks.

The Future Classic DJs whiled away the hours in the countdown to Terje’s set (and the apocalypse) by working the crowd into a lather with their usual eclectic stew of bottom-heavy deep house and funky new-school stuff, delivered in a very big way on the Civic’s incredible system. As I watched the packed floor going nuts for a breakdown early on, I knew it was going to be a pretty epic night. I thought to myself, “and people think house is background music?”

Terje obviously knows how big and engaging this sound can be. His three-hour set started in a surprisingly tech-housey vein, but he expertly crafted the build-up to avoid clichés and maximize the raw old-school excitement. Early on he seduced the floor with the sinister acid-funk of Axel Boman’s Brass Fanatic – a secret weapon in my own sets that I was psyched to hear dropped by this disco dude.

About the time Terje worked in his anthemic remix of Hot Chip’s How Do You Do? he had the crowd completely open and was ready to roll up his sleeves and go in any direction. To be honest, the punters would have probably been into it if he’d played Debussy or read the phone book to them, they were that psyched; but he kept pushing them with a steady salvo of choice cuts new and old and edited, usually delivered with a sly smile.

At times it was hard to sort out which of the tracks had been chopped up by Terje and which were pure classics, but after a while it didn’t matter. Talking Heads’ Brian Eno-produced Afro-disco jam I Zimbra sounded absolutely explosive on that system regardless of whose name is on the credits, as did the remix of The Rapture’s How Deep Is Your Love. The disco edit of Men at Work’s Down Under sounded pretty good too, although I had to laugh – I wanted to say, “Look, you don’t have to play this just because it’s Australia.” (Best cheeky/ridiculous Oz-oriented selection since Harvey played Olivia Newton-John’s Magic at a Picnic party a couple of years ago.) But the point is that Terje, like Harvey and fellow Norseman Prins Thomas, likes to put the fun in funk.

About two hours in, a familiar sinuous analogue bassline creeping into the mix announced Terje’s underground smash Inspector Norse. The crowd went mental, actually singing along with the Kraftwerkian instrumental, ecstatically mimicking the über-melodic keyboard stabs. From that peak, things got progressively deeper and funkier, though just as much fun, through to an early sunrise. Though I was falling-down tired, it was not easy to walk away from that set. Not a bad way to be welcomed back to Sydney and wind down the year.

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