Terminal Projekt is a new addition to Sydney's Vivid Festival, which lights up the city at the start of winter each year. Organised by local promoters Finely Tuned, these two nights of electronic acts took over the Customs Hall of the Overseas Passenger Terminal on the famous Circular Quay. After mixed reports about the crowd and vibe on the first night, which featured Jimmy Edgar and dOP, it was great to see the cavernous space fill up with enthusiastic punters early (even if the lights and sound fell a bit short of what had been promised).
Warming up, Co-Op DJs James Scott and Neil Terry mined a familiar vein of pitched-down house, disco and boogie, ideal for getting the crowd heaving before the The Revenge's 7 PM set. Graeme Clark took a chance and strayed from the more laid back formula he's known for, belting out uptempo disco, early '80s electro, soulful house (Ezel's "In My Lifetime") and darker tech (Deetron's "Crave"). Then there were classics, both well-known (DHS's "House Of God") and more obscure (Le Knight Club's "Hysteria"). Despite the early hour, his set was perfectly pitched with a real maturity not present in his earlier visits to Australia.
Hot Creations artist HNQO followed the Revenge, and stuck by his label's sound with a set that was all basslines and breakdowns. Daft Punk's "Da Funk" got a run and the unmistakeable strains of Michael Wycoff added disco flavour. He pressed the right buttons but it was a somewhat mechanical effort—good as a bridge but not especially earth-shattering.
But a bridge to what? Tensnake unfortunately lost the subtlety that helped him stay just the right side of cheesy during his meteoric rise to fame, banging out tunes that felt more suited to pop radio than sweaty raves. I wondered if he'd decided that his own music was simply not "big" enough for a closing set, that he would lose people by sticking too close to his own oeuvre. There were lovely moments—his new track "See Right Through" sung live by Fiora was a particular highlight—and in the end this big-room version of Tensnake was good fun. But the absence of something a bit more daring made it just that: a lot of fun, but not a night to remember.