John Digweed
John Digweed. Pic: Alfred Gorman

Flex/Richard Lee 

The Stables Bar

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ten years is a long time in dance music – a lot can change, and always does. Back then, deep house wasn’t the buzz genre it is now and techno was experiencing a lull and retreating to the underground. A few local guys decided to start up a new club night, recognising the lack of decent options in Perth when it came to house and tech.

Since then Habitat has moved from strength to strength to become one of Perth’s premier party crews. A name and a brand you can trust to put on a quality event, week after week, touring the biggest and best names in underground house and techno.

They have continued to seek out exciting new venues, and lift the bar in terms of production – along with their base at Geisha, they’ve also thrown parties at Shape, Ambar, The Court, Bob’s Bar and now The Stables Bar. They have toured the likes of Stacey Pullen, Sasha, James Zabiela, Derrick Carter, Hernan Cattaneo, Nick Warren, Trentemoller, Luke Slater, DJ Hell and Henry Saiz to name but a few and have established a solid roster of talented local DJs.

Congratulations and respect must be extended to Habitat bosses Flex and Warwick on such a milestone and for their great work promoting quality dance music in our town – making it a well-known destination for talent from all around the globe, providing many memorable (and not so memorable) nights for all of us. And the guys show no signs of slowing down, having been on a roll of late touring a host of huge names.

For their 10th Birthday Celebration, they wanted to do something special, and on Sunday they certainly succeeded in that, with a stellar night had by all in the lush surrounds of The Stables Bar, headlined by special guest star, UK house don, John Digweed.

With his old mate and partner Sasha in town just two weeks ago, some wondered why Digweed couldn’t have perhaps aligned his tour to allow the legendary duo to play together, something many would love to see – the last time they did in Perth was around 15 years ago. But the guys travel their own paths these days, each responsible for their own labels, and have defined their own sound.

Digweed can still pull a crowd, with the gig selling out in advance – the sprawling, two-floor venue was packed out more than ever before, realising its full party potential. While not quite as open as the back of The Court, it’s a cool old building with a unique vibe, and with its garden bar and balcony, its perfect for summer parties.

Running from 2-10pm, it was a big day – with the main outdoor stage and the Ten Years Of Habitat stage upstairs, there were a huge amount of local DJs in support. While it’s impossible to mention them all here, big shout outs to all the Habitat crew, an incredible bunch of DJs who all did a great job providing the soundtrack to the afternoon, with some back to back party action that was just good fun.

It really began to fill up around 5pm as Flex and Richard Lee got things fired up in the courtyard in the build up to Digweed’s appearance. Some choice cuts were selected including the massive DJ Koze remix of Moderat’s Bad Kingdom and Vincenzo’s Young Mountain, before handing over to Digweed with Daniel Bortz and Sascha Sibler’s awesome track If Not Tomorrow Maybe Someday.

Coming on a little later than scheduled, Digweed appeared behind the DJ booth, high above the dancefloor, to huge applause. He still had over three hours to work with and started with a really, winding minimal number that built to a peak, as explosions of heart-shaped confetti filled the air. The party was well and truly underway.

As the sun went down and the lights went up, the atmosphere was electric as the venue transformed into a colourful night garden – visual projections lit up the high brick walls all around, casting shadows across the leaves, as the mighty Funktion One soundsystem belted out the beats.

For a few years there Digweed seemed to be getting really into the minimal house sound, so much so that some of his sets became a bit plain and sterile, lacking that characteristic upfront element that made him one of the biggest DJs in the world. But any apprehension about his set soon passed as it became clear he was here to bring it. It appears he’s been getting back into the more deep, tech-house sound with some pure progressive in the mix, and this was a classic set of the highest calibre.

It was a fairly cutting edge mix of tunes as you’d expect from the man who runs Bedrock Records and has access to a plethora of new music constantly. Some tracks from some of his recent mixes made an appearance such as Miss Melera’s Faith (Einmusik Remix) and It Feels So Good by Argy.

Digweed always played more of a techier, tougher, harder style than Sasha – more direct dancefloor music – and he was in fine form tonight. This here reviewer has always been more of a Sasha fan, but it has to be said, Diggers may have trumped his old pal tonight, with a barnstorming set that the crowd loving, the perfect tunes for a party.

Suddenly it was 10 and the music stopped. Despite the loud applause and shouts of ‘one more!’, it was not to be, and the crowd stumbled out onto the city streets – some heading to Geisha for the after-party, others heading home, having to work the next day – but all with smiles on their faces, having witnessed a special event, celebrating a landmark occasion in style. Happy Birthday Habitat! Here’s to many more.