Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bloggers Delight: Continuity In Clubs


Some find enlightenment in India, I found mine in the form of a hot salt beef bagel in Brick Lane. ClichĂ©? Maybe, but a twenty something Adelaidean, lapping up London’s nightlife, was for me at least a life changing experience. 

After my two year stint in the UK, I returned to Melbourne in March 2010, around the same time I started this blog. For the Australian youth, an extended trip to London is somewhat a rite of passage and gateway to experiencing Europe and the rest of the world. Berlin, Sonar and various other obvious festivals and super-clubs soon followed.

My London experience was made up of working toward the weekends, catching a mid week show if I possible and experiencing as much music, history, culture, culinary delights and weekend getaways as possible. London as a city is inundated with music; whether it be in lounge rooms, night clubs, live venues or warehouses, there’s something to suite every taste. 

With such a vibrant scene, comes an educated crowd - one or three big names on a bill won’t get heads through the door - people have to trust their hard earned pound is going toward a party that will not only supply them with music, but an experience.

One of London's better monthly music sessions run by Andy Blake and Joe Hart out of Brixton.

Besides Japan, Melbourne (and Sydney) arguably receive the biggest influx of touring artists and DJs outside of Europe and America. Melbourne, at the moment could be considered Australia’s most internationally recognised city for house music...right? So why is it  that Melbourne offers so many bizarre line ups, often advertised on screaming fluorescent bill posters?

This Easter Sunday saw Moodymann headline a event with Roman Flugel, Martin Buttrich and tINI. This should be two different events. Event 1: Moodymann. Event 2: Roman Flugel, Martin Buttrich and tINI. If Moodymann were to play separately on the same night, Melbourne’s clubbing population does have the capacity for both parties to be a success. 

In Adelaide, Moodymann played alongside local legend HMC at Sugar, for what was reported as an intimate and memorable night. How memorable Moodymann with Roman Flugel, Martin Buttrich and tINI was in Melbourne, I'm not so sure.

In 2010, Surgeon played alongside Robert Dietz; a Running Back, Cadenza and CĂ©cille Numbers label regular - where is the continuity between artists? Does having Robert Dietz on the same bill as Surgeon persuade those on the edge of not going, to attend? Are Robert Dietz fans jumping up and down with excitement because Surgeon is also playing?

The same night I hosted Stroboscopic Artefacts head Lucy with MACHINE, the very next nightclub up the road presented Robag Whrume, Tommy Four Seven and Guti. I tried coming up with a thread linking the three, sonically or otherwise, but I was at a loss. 

A few months prior, the same nightclub offered James Zabiela, Robert Hood, Midland and Tom Budden as part of the same bill. This mixed bag saw a progressive house pioneer, thrown in with a Detroit techno legend and two UK acts representing tech house and post-xx? sounds. Some may argue this “mixes things up” but it is nothing more than a gimmick and lack of consideration to what constitutes a professionally and well planned event.

One of the more baffling line ups I have seen of late was Greg Wilson and Kirk Degiorgio. Greg Wilson; a reel-to-reel playing, electro, disco-edits legend - next to the techno heavy sounds of Kirk Degiorgio? Booking big name DJs that fall loosely under a house and techno - and at a stretch disco banner - does not constitute a good party.

A concern is that promoters feel they must, or are being pressured into booking supplementary acts in order to host a successful night, especially in larger venues. Continuity is lost if little thought is put into line ups and therefore so is the experience. 

Rather than add unrelated DJs simply because they are in town, why not offer warm up and support slots to local talent? For most local DJs, the best they could hope for when supporting an international is the lonely warm up set, something in room two or a depleted closing set. 

Promoters who support local DJs help nurture and define a city’s scene and sound, it also provides potential networking opportunities for DJs and producers, but most importantly, internationals that do travel to Melbourne will sense a realness within the local scene rather than flying in - performing - flying out.

Melbourne's larger parties are often rammed with locals DJs who are given one hour sets, in either rooms two or three. Up to 25 local DJs can be playing on the one night, which is more than Fabric's 12th Birthday On&On&On, where the club was open for 30 hours non stop. Is this a marketing ploy by promoters to draw in more numbers? A room can be curated successfully by three DJs, with ideally no more than five on the one night.

Keeping in line with consistency adds to the education of club goers that otherwise may not care. Rather than jumping up and down because Octave One is playing with John Roberts and Fritz Kalkbrenner, they may question whether the line up works before enjoying their night out. 

Unless your are Kanye West hooking up with U2, oddball line ups rarely work. As long as there is an underlying continuity between the artists, sound and event, promoters need not book additional DJs simply because they are available.

Great parties are still to be had in Melbourne, which are run by people doing it for the right reasons. But when the stakes are higher, that's when the wheels can fall off. I look forward to seeing Levon Vincent on the 1st of June.

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