Reviewed by Keely Victoria
Anyone that knows their shit will tell you the Dirtybird records are unquestionably the most on point and trend setting label in house music right now. The label is at the forefront of the industry with something to prove and, rightfully so, Australian booking agents are lapping it up like house-hungry cats.
Just after waving goodbye to French Fries for the Paris Social Club tour last November, and then Christian Martin and Worthy, who were out here for Subsonic Music Festival, the Chinese Laundry crew welcomed J Phlip, Justin Martin and Claude Von Stoke for their Australia Day garden party in The Ivy courtyard.
While the venue choice was as close to ‘polar opposite’ as it gets for a crowd used to the Chinese Laundry cave raves, the turn out was predominately a laundry crowd, and there was no question that those that were there, were there for the music. This sentiment was unfortunately not shared by the sound tech, which was a let down. While the Ivy courtyard boasts a superior sound system for Pacha Sydney, it’s potential was lost last Saturday. Unless you were front centre it was difficult to make out the mid tones, and by the time you were more than twenty metres back all you got was bass. This wasn’t helped by the fact it was at an oddly low volume, apparently due to noise restrictions during the day. After attending an event in the same venue the very next day at a much higher decibel count however, I can’t say I understand.
That aside, the Dirtybird crew didn’t let it effect their passion and performance in the slightest, and Australia Day at the Ivy was a party to remember.
J.Phlip is a refreshing way to start the day. As anyone who has seen her play before will know, she has a fun, excited style of mixing that is felt and responded to by the audience. After arriving half way through her set, and walking straight into a psyched up crowd, it was only three songs before we were into it too. Although she is signed and touring with a label known and respected for their house music, and she learnt her trade amongst the prolific Chicago house scene, her set doesn’t take that too seriously, encompassing house, tech house, techno, deep house and all the genres in between.
Man of the moment Justin Martin was supposed to take the decks at 3pm, but by the time he finally took to the courtyard stage it was almost 4pm and you could sense the level of excitement in the audience. Although the lineup was second to none, it was clear Justin was the one most of the crowd were here to see.
His set was a cleverly interspersed mix of his own music and others, and despite his unarguable fame at the moment, his inclusion of so much from Ghettos & Gardens never felt egotistical as it often can when producers play their own stuff, but rather considered and effective choices that complimented his track list of everything from 90s house classics , to other Dirtybird releases, even touching on trap at one stage. My only complaint having said that was his choice to play the Dusky remix of ‘Don’t Go.’ While it’s an incredible remix in it’s own right, it pales in comparison to Justin Martin’s original, and a few different crowds I overheard during the day shared this view.
Not to detract from what was an amazing set though, Justin Martin certainly proved his place in the scene, and it’s not hard to see why he has the reputation he’s earned as a DJ and producer.
A set of that calibre was going to take a lot to follow up, but the creator and father of Dirtybird records, Claude Von Stroke, had it in the bag. Claude was out here a few years ago and played a killer set at Spice Cellar, so I had high expectations for his courtyard set and was far from disappointed. His set spanned decades, giving a musical explanation for his success running Dirtybird and skill in picking perfect tracks that others may have overlooked; a skill that I’m sure translates to picking artists for the label.
During part of his set J.Phlip and Justin Martin were both behind the decks with him, signing autographs for enthusiastic punters jumping up on stage and posing for photos. Their humility and appreciation is obvious and all three present themselves as down to earth, a trait appreciated endlessly by Australians and more so on Australia Day.
Claude finished an incredible day on a high note, and I have a feeling it won’t be long before our shores are graced with more Dirtybird artists. At least let’s hope not!
Photography by Voena. Check full gallery here