The weather on the 19th didn’t look accommodating for a 10 hour day at Caulfield Racecourse, but nevertheless the clouds parted and the 2016 edition of Smalltown at Caulfield Racecourse kicked off.
With revellers arriving en masse, the smooth sounds of Aussie locals Baron Castle and Mike Callander invited them in warmly. A little drizzle in the air meant nothing to those wanting to see the three huge international headliners that were lined up for the day.
Novel implemented interesting curation to the stage as per usual: A raised upper timber platform, and a lower, intimate dancefloor. Alongside this, patrons also had massive amounts of space on both sides of the dancefloor and behind it, allowing anyone to boogie as hard as they wanted.
Set times were completely to schedule, with Mano Le Tough taking the reins of the immense Funktion One sound system bang-on 2:30. The Irishman brought the house down, bringing sweet Ibiza summer jams, and some deep thumpers to get the crowd in the mood for the rest of the day. The 2 hours went by fast unfortunately, where the Berlin-bred Recondite stepped up to the plate for an hour and a half live set.
Recondite acted in regular fashion: almost no emotion apart from the odd fist-pump or head-bob, which fit perfectly with the theme of his set. Melodic techno tore through the main-stage dancefloor, gaining “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” throughout the whole set. Closing with Caldera (my pick for top track of Smalltown), the beanie-clad Berliner raised his fist and the entirety of the dancefloor collectively closed their eyes and let the thumping kicks and eery twangs ripple through them. An absolutely killer set to highlight the middle of the day.
Armed with a (massive) glass of white wine, a nice fitted sweater, and a white shirt, the man of the hour entered the booth. With Recondite still dancing with the most vigour he had all set, Dixon came over to give the man a hug – a very human moment between the two international stars, met with a huge cheer from the public.
Recondite left the booth with handshakes to the crowd, while Dixon started off with some melodic house tracks.
The melodic jams only lasted a small while, until Dixon went to his regular routine of huge breakdowns and heavy drops. As the familiar Caulfield sunset appeared behind Dixon, he carried on through his catalog, with lamps dangled from the main stage ceiling beginning to flicker on and off. Over the course of four hours, the German never faltered – continuously bringing belter after belter, and his mixing was absolutely seamless and effortless, with the crowd never able to realise where one track ended and the other began. In turn, the man created an experience which was hard to match with any other electronic performance. Mouths were agape staring at the man in the black sweater, who was slowly bobbing his head in beat to tracks he presented to Caulfield Racecourse.
Winding up his set, Dixon brought through some heavy, bassline oriented songs, bringing the crowd to an immense climax – the light show at a maximum. Closing, Dixon ended his set by fading out the previous house burner to leave the crowd in a few seconds of silence, until he dropped an edit of ‘You Wanted a Hit’ by LCD Soundsystem. The whole place came alive one last time in the darkness together, enshrouded in a misty smoke, for a final dance.