I think it’s safe to say that Melbourne is Australia’s capital for electronic music. Giant warehouse event B3 has just cemented that fact firmly into the ground.
It wasn’t long ago that dance music was confined purely to Melbourne’s clubs. Novel, amongst others, have taken it upon themselves to truly do something different, and help drive the dance music culture forward.
When B3 was announced in December 2017, a wave of intrigue ran across Melbourne’s electronic music community. Across 2018, and particularly in the later half of the year, the hype became quite real. DJ Koze was my hot favourite for the night.
Fast forward to 27th of September, and expectations were well met. The first thing you notice when entering the venue was the rumbling coming from the looming dance floor, set deep in the belly of the Etihad Stadium car park. For me this created a vibe of menace (in a good sense) and curiosity. We were entering a hedonist’s playground.
The second thing you notice is a strong feeling of disorientation. The space was vast, yet the roof was low. Its funny how a space can affect your senses. You almost forgot you were in a car park.
Enter the dance floor. Our crew found its position quick smart, tucked in a zone where the bass was rich and encompassing. The sound was well tuned for the space, a healthy dose of soundproofing foam negating any reverberations.
Gerd Janson was first up, playing with class, and an appropriate track selection given his set time. I think that his Sugar Mountain set was still fresh on the minds of Melburnians in particular, so there was an expectation to be taken to disco town amongst my friends. However, he laid out a classy set for the car park setting.
DJ Koze was best on ground. You could hear his unique take on electronic music and years of experience as he took the crowd on a two-hour sonic journey. His trick was blending between genres in a seamless fashion. He had the crowd covered and moving.
I’m not a fan of disco. I can’t stand 20 minutes of it, but like any genre, there is good disco and bad disco. Maybe I’ve only heard bad disco? DJ Koze’s Pick Up sits comfortably under the ‘good disco’ banner, and needless to say, it had me and the 7000 other people in the crowd grooving like it was our last night on earth.
He would move from upbeat tracks all the way through to techno weapons like Planetary Assault Systems’ Desert Races. Tracks like these carry a force of a hydrogen bomb, and the ebb and flow from gentle to gritty, atmospheric to driving, made for an utterly absorbing experience.
There is a lot of hype surrounding Belgium’s Charlotte de Witte. The 26-year-old has shot to stardom in the techno-sphere in the past year or so, and thus it was interesting to hear what she had to play.
The scene was set when she played her first few tracks around 3am – heavy and straightforward techno. However, the issue for me was that the vibe didn’t change for the next two hours. Her set was quite linear in the sense that it didn’t have the ebb-and-flow of peaks and troughs or the oscillations of high and low moments.
Technically, she performed really well, but the issue was track selection. Variation is the spice of life, and the repetition of a build and drop into a kick drum became a bit predictable and uninteresting.
As for areas of improvement? As good as the sound was (and it was very good), there were pockets where it could have been stronger. Maybe some more sound coming from the sides of the dance floor would have provided the oomph, but I’m no expert, so I’ll leave that one to the professionals.
All in all, B3 nailed it. One of Novel’s hallmarks is the attention to detail and level of professionalism when it comes to putting on new ideas. Smalltown is turning into one of the most sought-after and hyped events around Melbourne, and B3 is proof of that. I can’t wait for the next one.