Usually when a steroid-laced male with a backwards hat sidles up to me and says "Where's all the chicks, bro?", I take that as my cue to sneak away unnoticed from the R&B club hosting some acquaintance's birthday party. But when it actually happened to me at Chinese Laundry's Renaissance Garden Party, the thought of leaving didn't even cross my mind.
As I arrived and made my way to the DJ booth where Tones was wrapping up his deep-tech warm-up set, plastic beer cups were clanking left and right to the accompaniment of boisterous manly cheers. However, I didn't get to catch much as the dance floor was already packed by that stage in the afternoon.
Photo credit: Sid Soin
Armed to the teeth with his laptop and controllers (Monone and Lemur for you tech geeks out there), Gui Boratto soon lit a cigarette and got to work. The packed crowd surged forward to the point where, despite the outdoor setting, a slight feeling of claustrophobia could be seen creeping across the faces of a few unfortunately smaller framed folk who nonetheless stood firm against the male dominated fist-pumpers.
All that was swept aside as Boratto dropped his first kick drum, the producer had the crowd in the palm of his hand from the outset. Every nuance and deviation from his album was lapped up by the obviously well-schooled fans camped in the first five or so rows, turning to their friends in amazement with every unfamiliar sound unleashed. From my vantage point atop a fountain, I comfortably listened as Boratto took the crowd through his back-catalogue. "Atomic Soda" was recognisable early on and led to a selection of heavier tracks before Boratto sent the crowd into a sea of smiles with his recent hit "Azzurra." The pop melodies and deep warm bass fitted together perfectly as the sun slowly began its descent towards the horizon. "No Turning Back" signified the halfway mark of his set, and from there his recent remix of Massive Attack's "Paradise Circus" and his 2008 single "Haute Couture" paved the way to the epic finale of "Beautiful Life" which left the crowd screaming like Twilight fans at a premiere.
Photo credit: Sid Soin
The sun had sunk below the garden walls by the time Henry Saiz took the stage, with his set reflecting the darkness that had now eclipsed the dance floor. Where Boratto's performance had people smiling and singing along, Saiz's tough progressive sound had the crowd focused with a dogged intensity. With that, the party lost a bit of its charm. The drums were simple and unrelenting, and the melodies more blatant and cold—devoid of much of the finesse I had expected to hear. Regrettably, I retired to the bar and took in the rest of Saiz's set from afar. Despite my decision to retire, there were many who stayed the course and loved his set. His remix of Sasha's timeless "Xpander" gave the faithful something to go crazy for towards the end of the night.
This party is a strong indicator that daytime events in Sydney shouldn't be so few and far between. When you can have parties like this, why should partying in the sunshine be confined to festivals full of drowned out sound and mid-strength beers instead?