Live Review: Hayden James, Wave Racer, Paces

4 March 2016 | 10:51 am | Matt MacMaster

"Based on tonight this festival deserves your attention."

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Holding a festival right now would be a nerve-wracking endeavour. The current state of live music entertainment is in violent flux, under pressure from controversial regulation and oversaturation. To guide a ship through waters like these takes keen insight, coin and a significant amount of chutzpah in order to not only stay afloat, but ideally forge ahead as an example to others. Does Spectrum Now have that chutzpah? Their opening night says yes, maybe they do.

The grounds are set out in a circular pattern with food trucks, bars and sideshows ringing a central "virtual big top" — a series of rope lights on a frame that's only missing the canvas to actually make it a proper tent. Long, communal tables shoot out from the centre like spokes on a giant wheel, people sitting shoulder to shoulder devouring morsels from the usual food truck heroes (side note: these are truly halcyon days in terms of festival food). Little Creatures poured freely; Young Henry's were notably absent for once.

A gypsy folk band rattled around on a small open stage while revellers danced beneath them. A swanky set-up from local barber Sterling Apothecary was nestled in the corner, in case anyone needed a quick snip before the show. An additional gin bar, a cocktail lounge, a flash tattoo joint courtesy of LDF and a super eclectic line-up (how the fuck did they nab the notoriously anti-establishment Godspeed You! Black Emperor?!) all point to success.

Gold Coast producer Paces turned the keys in the ignition, getting things started with help from a few hundred punters who pre-registered for a free night of fun. Big, friendly house was on the menu and the cavernous chandelier-lit space was full of stomping feet against the wooden floor.

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Wave Racer grabbed the baton and ran with some chip-tune bubblegum club music with flair that felt like it had the potential to really take off if given more time.

Hayden James topped the bill with a glossy set, every compressed beat clipped, shiny and vibrant. Silky vocals were effective in keeping things from getting too cool and clinical, and the crowd responded to every playfully extended drop and soaring hook.

It was a soft start in terms of music, a safe way to take the festival for a spin before the main acts hope to make an impact over the coming week. Based on tonight this festival deserves your attention. Hopefully Spectrum Now gives our nightlife potential some fresh ideas.