Red Alert @ Off Broadway Hotel, Sydney (05/04/03)

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Fringedwellers have re-surfaced from a period of quiet to put on another night of quality subterranean techno at the suitably ‘underground’ Off Broadway Hotel – a perfect little den of iniquity with that dark clandestine atmosphere that so lends itself to those harder electronic genres. From memory this is the third of the Red Alert events (though many other parties have been put on by Dancing Dan) the last one being down at the Dendy and the first one I ever attended at that wonderfully sketchy back-street off-the-by-way warehouse in Buckley Street, Marrickville. I have only heard good reports about the venue form my tech-lovin’ peers and colleagues, and the venue stood up to these promises. A great layout (with plenty of nook-and-cranny places to sit talk etc) an excellent sound system and versatile dance floor/stage (used to perfection with DJ booth to the right and live stage to the front) A definite space with promise in this ever-increasing lack-of-adequate-venues city.

9:00 was a somewhat earlier beginning than usually used to – though hearing that Dartech was playing the opening set, it was incumbent upon us to get there early – in retrospect an excellent decision seeing as the first three hours of the party offered the goods in terms of music and style. Hard driving techno provided introductory ear-kicks – definitely a welcome start to the night. Marshall continued in this vein, coaxing the more eager early arrivals to the dance floor. Having seen Marshall on a number of occasions (particularly those many messy Sunday evenings at Tampered) I have always been impressed with his musical and technical style – Saturday night in particular would have to be one of his superlative sets – excellent.

Dartech returned (to the pleasure of myself and others) after Marshall to replace Dave Slade (who had apparently only brought slower paced electro with him) This tech-head had no complaints. Dartech served it out damn slammin – strong techno chopped and cut with dextrous quick-slicing precision into one mighty tasty dish. Hands constantly flicking turning manipulating bass treble and other sound assortments – techno to be watched and listened to – and above all danced to. Can’t sing my praises enough for Dartech’s set – great to see the “younger/newer/lesser-know” Sydney djs (for want of a better/appropriate description) getting gigs to showcase their talent. Dartech and Marshall’s love/passion and hunger for their music set the standard for the rest of the night and were out to show what they are capable of. Yes, Dartech & Marshall slammed it out hard from the beginning…. ummm…. whats the problem….. nothing wrong with starting out like that at all in my humble opinion…. fuck the funk…. be gone with the build ups…. dish it out relentless and repetitive….

Calix was the first live act of the night – techno served clean and punching – a refined and crisp sound. Unfortunately I had trouble getting into it. It was a lot thinner in sound and texture to the previous sets and didn’t have the crunchy dirty element to it that I like (though this is merely a matter of my aural tech-taste-buds) Personally (again), I don’t like too many interruptions in a set of techno (breakdowns etc) that give you too much a chance to compose yourself. Although it was one of Calix’s harder live sets, it didn’t match the intensity and energy of earlier on, which is perhaps more a result of the line-up in general over the length of the night, rather than his set in particular. The Wrinkled Nose v Sun Chin Bin live set later on in the night suffered from this same line-up choice. Great quality techno (with lovely hard messed up noisy elements in it) that just didn’t work after Bold – and to avoid contradiction here having said how much I agree with starting a party hard, I think if you are going to have lesser ‘intense’ or ‘full on’ sets in the night, you need to have them in some order to give some sense of the night moving somewhere. If they are all hard – well, I guess that’s an easier party to structure.

The night definitely reached its peak when interstate guest DJ Bold (from Adelaide) took to the stage(s) with both a DJ and live serving – both sets awesome in style, sound and quality. Driving tribal techno – nice and percussive. Bold’s live set in particular was most impressive. The atmosphere during this stage if the night was fantastic with the dance floor full and moving. Sasquelch finished the night off with some great head-messy squelch dirty end-of-night techno.

Major props to Dancing Dan for an excellent quality night of techno, taking the chance to bring something a little different into the techno scene. The choice to bill so many live artists proved to give the night a certain immediacy, intensity and strength that only live techno can produce (though it is a technical nightmare) A highly enjoyable and successful night (though numbers were lower than I expected – again a failure of the at times fickle and apathetic Sydney tech scene – where the fuck are you all hiding?) The Tribot after-recovery party provided those gluttons for punishment with a place to go – the hard and dark set by Mr Big was a lovely sketchy way to welcome the oncoming (removed) day…

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