Live Review: Harbourlife

24 November 2015 | 1:46 pm | Tanya Bonnie Rae

"The perfect way to round up a day of quality house music."

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Walking in through the Royal Botanical Gardens to Mrs Macquaries Point felt unbelievably liberating and refreshing, surrounded by overhanging greenery, a spectacular view of boats by the harbour, and with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background. Bars, food stalls and portaloos lined the passageway to the main and only stage, which was filled to capacity by about 4pm. The sold out house music-orientated day festival seemed to have attracted a pleasantly diverse crowd, a mixed bag of old and young alike, all there for the love of music, and there was an air of respect, happiness and mutual understanding between the majority of the crowd.

Chicago-based DJ/producer Derrick Carter played an afternoon set incorporating an incredible, badarse mix of Missy Elliot's Pass That Dutch and an Eats Everything edit of Parking Garage Politics by Paperclip People. He also snuck in a couple of tropical-house tracks with catchy drum samples and could have easily played at a later time slot. He rounded up his set with the funky, feelgood My Name Is Sheila/Kiko's Funk Explosion Mix remix of Harmony by Sheila Ford and Kiko Navarro.

Hailing from Ireland's Belfast, male duo Bicep (Andy Ferguson and Matt McBriar) kicked off their set with a dash of deep disco-house, playing a track called Mars Bar by Gene Farris & Cajmere. As experienced residents of London's live music club XOYO, Bicep played a consistently good set of strong tech-house and techno tracks with an excellent music selection that was on point for the entire length of their 60-minute set.

French tropical/deep house project Klingande followed through on stage with Edgar Catry on the saxophone and Cedric Steinmyller playing uplifting but non-stop straight tropical-house. There was very little variation between tracks and for a long time it sounded like they were playing cheesy pop tunes from the top 40 over the top of a saxophone solo that frankly just never seemed to end. They played a remix of La Roux's Bulletproof while a drunken partygoer managed to somehow sneak up on stage and start dancing around, wiping her sweat with the towels left for the artists on the side of the stage. This scene, coupled with a lone water policeman struggling to keep shirtless dudes on paddleboats from rowing closer to the main stage, was honestly the highlight of their entire set. Towards the end of the set, Steinmyller came up to the front of the DJ booth and started cheering, pouting and fist-pumping into the audience like a true Stereosonic act and everybody in the crowd started getting restless.

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After Klingande's fairly sobering set, Daniel Pearce aka Eats Everything kicked everyone back into gear and started off strong with interesting, heavy techno tracks. He played his The Annual 2016 Us Edit of Dancing featuring Tiga, and Transatlantic by Kydus at the beginning of his set. Sadly about 20 minutes in the sound cut out mid-song, killing the energy. Despite a valiant effort to revive it things didn't get back in swing until he played Da Hool's 1997 classic Meet Her At The Love Parade, while some half-naked guy in hot pink speedos and a straw hat danced on someone's shoulders in the front and centre of the crowd.

Originally from Hamburg, Germany, DJ and producer Tensnake (real name Marco Niemerski) also played a bit of deep-techno tracks, along with the Samba Radio Edit of Todd Terje's Strandbar and a remix of Size 9's groovy house number I'm Ready. Towards the front of the stage, the sound was a little muffled and the bass could have been turned down juuuust a little. His whole set was really funky and dynamic, and he busted out his 2010 crowd favourite, tropical house track Coma Cat.

The sun was well and truly down and most of the boats that had been sitting on the water during the afternoon had retired for the evening when electronica music veterans, German house duo Booka Shade (made up of Walter Merziger and Arno Kammermeier), took to the stage. They played a lot of funky, techno/house tracks with a spacial element to them that subtly wrapped up the tone from all the acts of the day. Surprisingly, they leaned a little heavily on techno tracks that bordered on the repetitive side, but kept the crowd in high spirits until the end of their 75-minute set.

The stroll along the grassy pathway, complete with fairy lights adorning the trees and a stunning view of the harbour, was the perfect way to round up a day of quality house music.