An event the size of Godskitchen is always hard not to get overly excited for, and this occasion was no different as I was already dangerously pumped for my first Melbourne event by the time I arrived at Melbourne park at around 11:30pm. I was instantly impressed with the organisation and ease of entrance, which is no easy task for an event this size, and the friendliness of the many punters also eagerly waiting to embark on what was to be a memorable evening. And so after meeting and greeting a few other Sydney road trippers, it was time for the journey to begin…
I decided to first check out the Godskitchen arena, which was already packed to the rafters, with Ajax and Scott Alert pumping out their trademark hard sound. I was immediately impressed with the production and sound in this arena, although as this was my first event at Melbourne park I have no basis for comparison for past events. One thing for sure was that a lot more effort had been put into this than into the Godskitchen arena at Sydney Two Tribes earlier this year. The combination of hard music, copious amounts of glowsticks and ‘interesting’ costumes was all a bit much for me at this stage in the evening however, so more from this arena later.
I found myself much more at ease in the Balance room, where Sean Quinn was spinning some very nice progressive tunes - driving, funky, and even a little melodic – exactly the style of progressive I have come to love. After bumping into none other than James Holden and Steve Gerrard at Sydney airport earlier in the day, I was even more hyped up to see how they would follow up their extremely impressive Friday night performances in Sydney.
Before this, however, I ventured back down to the Godskitchen arena where one of my all-time favourite trance producers was teasing the enthusiastic crowd with some hard edged progressive trance. M.I.K.E has been responsible for some absolutely massive tunes over the years under a vast array of aliases: m.i.k.e, push, plastic boy and solar factor to name just a few. It is therefore understandable that I was more than a little excited at the prospect of finally seeing this guy in the flesh for his first ever Australian tour. He started off well enough, with the aforementioned progressive trance really doing it for me early on before building into some more uplifting stuff, including Kansai – Rococco (Neo & Farina remix) which was an early highlight. He really started to lose it a little during the middle of his set though, experimenting with some techier stuff, dropping a remix of “Sunglasses at night” that did nothing for me, and I think I’m not the only one that he lost during this portion of his set. The last hour of his set lacked any real flow, dropping a tech track then a trance track then another tech track and so on, and by the time he dropped his own “Live another life” under the Plastic Boy moniker I had all but lost interest in his set altogether. Perhaps I was expecting too much from the guy, but after waiting so long to see him and looking forward so much to this occasion, I found it hard not to be disappointed, and I know I wasn’t the only one.
No time to dwell however, as it was a frantic rush back up to the Balance room to catch the last half an hour or so of Steve Gerrard who, as was the case the previous night, was rocking it! The crowd had picked up nicely which was great to see after the room had been looking a little bare during Sean Quinn’s set. Gerrard was playing a solid blend of progressive breaks and driving, melodic prog which had the walls shaking and shockwaves flowing through the floor. Even those who lacked the energy to dance were furiously nodding their heads and tapping their feet to the infectious beats. Quality stuff. Steve Gerrard is a guy many Australians had never heard of prior to this tour, but his performances so far have shown why he is becoming so popular back in the UK, while his production work as Filta and Wrecked Angle is further evidence that we will be hearing much more about this guy in the future.
I knew that if the previous evening was anything to go by then once James Holden started his set I wouldn’t be able to tear myself away, so I quickly ducked out to check out the other two rooms before I got too settled. ‘Detroit City’ was in the process of being torn apart by techno legend Kevin Saunderson, who had the crowd in the palm of his hand dishing out some hard edged tech house and minimal techno (well, according to my classifications anyway). There are few names in the techno scene bigger than this guy’s, and on the brief time I was able to see him action I could see why. Would have loved to have listened to more of this guy’s set, but Holden was my priority on this occasion though, so I quickly ducked my head into the Nukleuz room where BK was playing some relentlessly hard house that didn’t exactly capture my imagination, and then it was back to the balance arena where Holden was already picking things up from where he left off the night before.
James Holden is one of the rising stars of the international progressive scene (and for the purposes of this review let’s assume that ‘progressive’ is a close enough description of the style he plays!) and he is recently starting to command as much respect for his djing as for his production skills. Responsible for classics such as “Horizons,” “Nothing,” and one of my all time favourites “Eternity,” there are few who can match Holden for technical and creative brilliance. His style is a meticulous blend of deep and driving prog, hypnotic, deep and progressive trance, with hints of melodic ambience laced throughout to form one of the most unique styles around. The set he dished out on this occasion was a perfect reflection of this style, and the result was easily one of the best sets I have witnessed this year. Tracks like FC Kahuna – Hayling (Kosmas Epsilon mix), Vector – Rise, JFOS – Do what you want (Infusion’s sky mix), PQM – you are sleeping (PQM meets Luke Chable vocal pass), Epsilon 9 – Lifeformation (Infirnal machine mix), Nathan Fake – Outhouse (monster track!) and his own gems “Nothing” and “A Break in the Clouds” made for the type of set you sit back and reflect on for many months to come. He isn’t the most animated of dj’s behind the decks, but his constant smiles and willingness to shake eager punter’s hands and sign many a record were great to see and added to the vibe his music had done so much to create.
As far as the larger events go I have to admit I’m generally not the biggest fan, but when the dj lineup consists of guys like James Holden, Steve Gerrard and M.I.K.E, it is hard to resist the temptation to join the thousands, throw caution to the wind and go completely nuts, and on this occasion I did just that! I ended up having a fantastic time at my first Melbourne event, and I look forward to attending more in the future.