Future Entertainment, one of Australia's largest music entertainment agencies, have been running the New Year's Day festival Summadayze since 1999. Originating in Melbourne, it is now active in all major Australian cities, with 2009 marking its arrival in Sydney. In a change from the New Year's Day tradition, however, the Sydney leg was to be a New Year's Eve event at Home nightclub, appropriately dubbed Summanights.
Feedback on the Summadayze series had always been very positive, and Sydneysiders were anxious to see if the new edition would live up to its big brother's reputation. The promoters had put together an impressive DJ list that included Josh Wink, Sharam and Eddie Halliwell across six rooms, with the additional enticement of a tune-up to Home's aging sound system before the show.
First up was Nic Fancuilli who rocked the room with some solid funky house on a system that showed definite signs of (much-needed) improvement. As midnight clicked over, he dropped "You've Got the Love" as Sydney's famous harbour fireworks lit up all around us. In the main room, The Shapeshifters played a set thick with crowd pleasers, including electro remixes of "You're Not Alone" and "Sweet Dreams" on a rather fuzzy and bass-heavy speaker stack. Upstairs, Mark Knight knocked out a thumping set of house, tech and progressive, which kept people dancing (even when an errant foot knocked out the cable for the subwoofer). Finishing with the original version of "Man with the Red Face" was a fitting end to an enjoyable set.
Around this time, though, it became noticeable that the crowd was thinning. Headliner Sharam was just kicking off in the main room, but it was barely half-full. His unexpectedly tough set of progressive house was good, if not spectacular, but he was handily upstaged by Eddie Halliwell. Taking to the decks to the now standard chanting of his name, he blew the crowd away with a huge set of trance anthems that including all his usual trickery—cuts, scratches and layered effects. Despite not kicking off until 4:00 AM, he injected energy into the room, the crowd cheering each breakdown and pumping fists as the beat dropped back in.
Sadly, Summanights ended on a dull note, as those heading upstairs to see Josh Wink's closing set would've arrived to silence. Due to a lack of people in the room, he had finished up 90 minutes early. The big question, though, was why was it half-full? It wasn't a lack of party spirit. The next day, Future revealed that the police had decided that Home, despite being well short of official capacity, had reached its crowd limit and had instructed management to not let anyone else in for the rest of the night.
It's hard to review a night that, due to this bizarre police intervention, never fulfilled its potential. The club was less than half-full for much of the night and rendered the vibe somewhat flat. That, coupled with the fact that the crowd that was there was poorly behaved—every female member of our group was subjected to unwanted attention and wandering hands at one point or another in the evening—and it's clear that this New Year's Eve will be memorable. But not for the right reasons.