Sorry for the absence, we’ve been doing very important things like riding motorbikes through downtown Hanoi (D) and living the skin cancer and binge drinking ads put out by the Government (J and posse) as summer officially groans into its’ third month. One highlight of the recent spate of badly organised festivals (see: Field Day, Nevereverland) was the annual Sydney Festival, which was far better planned but just as badly organised as the other failures. Of course, Sydney Fest’s problem lay not in the artists on offer, but rather the fact that they estimated 100,000 people would rock up, and got about four times that amount.
Couple this with a complete lack of bar facilities and irritating barricades all over the city designed to a) piss people off and b) advertise ANZ [like people actually trust banks anymore], and you have a recipe for disaster. There was a minor riot during A-Trak’s set on College St, as thousands of kids tore through the barriers to go and dance – perfectly legitimate if you’re not one of the hundreds of riot police who went out to kick some ass. While local acts tore it up in the locked off garden of the Domain, cops on horses (oh, and cute little bicycles) proceeded to try and deal with the fact that loads of underage kids had walked in with their own sacks of goon and beers and were running around trashed in a government sponsored event. Most people got sent away, as areas were increasingly locked down. The smart 21 year olds went on down to the only place you could still move freely – Macquarie St and Martin Place. And we stumbled right into the next French Revolution.
You know when people rave about electro acts or DJs and you just think ‘What the fuck is the big deal here?’ Like when Cut Copy became the best thing since sliced bread, or everyone had that whole Digitalism phase? Well let’s put this all to rest with the arrival of Busy P and Medhi, who play back to back sets of amazingly invigorative tunes and prove that real decks-masters are more than a mouse and Itunes. The Parisian Ed Banger label is well known to most people in the music industry. Founded by Pedro Winter (Busy P) in 2003, it’s now host to the biggest neu-dance stars on earth, including DJ Medhi, Uffie, Vicarious Bliss, Mr Oizo and the now-legendary Justice. These are the guys who use Christian imagery in their live sets, rap about promiscuous sex and generally lead the way in terms of dance music. Not counting Australia of course. We have TV Rock, people.
The reason Ed Banger is so successful is because, like Canadian friends MSTRKRFT, they appreciate the fact that most people like jumping around the distorted guitars and real instruments, not bullshit synthesisers and some guy trying to convince us of his never-ending libidinal urges. Just have a look at Justice, who cut their teeth with the horribly fuzzy Water Of Nazareth, which dominated dance floors for over a year and could easily come from a Metallica album. Or their shout-chorus remix of We Are Your Friends, the Jackson 5 stylings of D.A.N.C.E and the general musicality they apply to their sometimes whacked out recordings. On Sydney Festival, Pedro mixes a heady bass track with Justice and AC/DC, all in the space of about 6 minutes, and it flows seamlessly. The kids go nuts, and it’s not just the alcohol talking, it’s the thrill of being able to see an amazing DJ for free when usually you have to pay $100 to see a crap one.
Before opening Ed Banger, Busy P managed a little group called Daft Punk, who probably set the rules for how all dance music sounds today. That’s fair enough, seeing as they’re still being ripped off by Kanye West and Wiley every day of the week, but seeing P in action, I went back to have a listen to the band’s seminal album ‘Discovery’. And I found, that once you get past the awesome, genre-defining sounds of One More Time and Harder,Better,Faster,Stronger, there’s some really cool, g-funk seduction music happening. Case in point is this song, which features the least robotic sounding vocals you’ll ever find on a Daft Punk record, a non-raving slap-bass beat and some serious Moon Safari, Air vibes to it. It’s really pretty, something you probably wouldn’t even notice when going through all the hits. And this sensitivity is something you hear in Ed Banger DJ sets too; they’re the only mixers I’ve heard who deliberately turn to volume down for dramatic effect rather than cutting out instruments. That’s the mark of an artist, versus an arse. Now everybody get your bike helmets on and report to the bedroom…
Daft Punk – ‘Something About Us’
An example of the Ed Banger ‘more noise is good noise’ mantra…
DJ Medhi – ‘Signatune’ (Thomas Bangalter Edit)
And the Justice hit that started it all. Get those earplugs ready if you’re over thirty.
Justice – ‘Waters Of Nazareth’