The quality of the music and the surrounds far outweighed what can be put down to teething problems associated with using a new venue.
It's been a while since an independent promoter has run two consecutive gigs on a single weekend, with many event organisers fearing there just aren't enough people into underground electronic music in Sydney to justify weekend-long festivities. However, with Concept, Astral People provided a diverse line-up of international guests, thereby capturing the attention of just about anyone with a taste for bass-heavy music.
Friday night saw German techno maestro Shed perform live, backed up by UK bass sensation DjRUM, who was a late replacement following the unfortunate cancellation of Andy Stott. Performing on a laptop, MIDI controller and 16-channel mixing desk, Shed played tracks from all of his many aliases, including the dusty, old-school house-influenced crunch of Rave (Dirt Mix) and plenty of heads-down, warehouse techno and shuffley, experimental beats from his 2012 album, The Killer. Unlike a lot of acts who often have jarring changeovers between tracks, Shed subtly mixed his tracks together more like a DJ, giving the set a cohesive and consistent flow that aided in getting locked into a groove when dancing. DjRUM rounded out the night to a small contingent of loyal steppers with his trademark blend of dubstep, garage, house and techno, all mixed superbly on vinyl despite a few issues with jumping needles at the start of his set. Whether it was classic rave gems like LFO, sub-slayers like Perverse's Bolontiku or chunky rollers like his own remix of Phaeleh's The Cold In You, DjRUM knew exactly what the crowd needed to keep them raving till close.
Saturday night was for those who like their music a little more left-of-centre, with Ghostly International prodigy Shigeto playing a live set and ambient dubstep pioneer Phaeleh returning for the second time this year. Shigeto was, in a word, amazing. Bringing to life his genre-hopping, futuristic style with Ableton, a MIDI trigger pad and a live drum kit, the US beat master entranced the crowd with warm, engulfing chords, heavy sub bass, off-kilter bells and harps, low-slung beats and some intense live drum solos. Whether it was stomping four-to-the-floor grooves like Ringleader (which featured one of the aforementioned drum solos), chilled hip hop like Detroit Part 1, or booming, polyrhythmic journeys like his remix of Mouth by Sun Glitters, everything that Shigeto was laying down, the eager crowd were picking up. Phaeleh continued the bass-heavy vibes with his unique sound, which takes influences from dubstep, ambient electronica and UK garage. Despite its relative depth and subtlety, the music worked the crowd to boiling point, with the packed dancefloor moving in unison to every big bassline, singing along to the vocals and closing their eyes to appreciate the warm, melodic elements. Of course much of his own material featured through the set, including Fallen Light and Should Be True, as well as his incredible remix of Rudimental's Not Giving In.
Across both nights the crowd was responsive, educated and most importantly up for a party, and The Basement was a great alternative to many Sydney clubs with its lush surroundings and friendly staff. The only complaint that can really be made is the sound could have been better: often there was far too much bass and a lot of the intricacies of the music were lost amongst muddy walls of low end (especially during Shed's set), but this could easily be fixed for the next Concept night in December. Overall, the quality of the music and the surrounds far outweighed what can be put down to teething problems associated with using a new venue.
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