The Claremont Showground
Saturday, November 30, and Sunday November 31, 2014
Day one saw the heat being turned up by no other than Australian loved DJ Nina Las Vegas. Even after her recent run overseas she still brought that punch and energy home by pulling off some pretty trap-y tunes paired with some pretty impressive pyrotechnic work
Dutch teenager Oliver Helden delivered a set of deep pulsing house. Really though, everyone was there for the grand finale, Gecko, where he took everyone’s hearts into overdrive and had us dancing the happy kind of way.
Emerging from the darkness and into the air saw a rush over to Peking Duk. Expectations were blown out of the water when they started off with some seriously chilled reggaeton that really put a spin on what was meant to come from these boys. They did get their high in there but it was remixed with something that gave it more depth and grimy-ness. They provided a great show both aesthetically with their onstage energy and audibly by being able to pull off Take Me Over with perfect pitch.
Surprise in the mix was drum n bass genius Wilkinson calling all the vix masters and bucket hat cookers far and wide for a pavilion wide rinse off. His up-tempo beats were everything that everyone needed by 5pm to get the real kick going. By the end, Afterglow had everyone singing along on shoulders in the face of the Co2 jet cannons.
Calvin Harris’s early tongue-in-cheek efforts were nowhere in sight – far from I Created Disco (or even Kelis colab Bounce), he’s cemented his reputation as a purveyor of sincere, hearts-on-sleeves EDM. Summer was the opener and closer for his set, accompanied by Saturday evening pyrotechnics, Blame, Outside, Close To You, and a whole swag of relatively unedited electrohouse weepers.
Diplo rounded off Saturday night at the Hard stage (an intimate but increasingly stuffy agricultural shed cum warehouse party). As R. L. Grime left the stage, Diplo wove hip hop anthems (The Next Episode) and pop monsters (Anaconda) into a frenetic series of thorough-going trap breaks and Major Lazer reworks.
Sunday began to peak in the same way the first one did with another female DJ bringing in the masses: Alison Wonderland did us wonders with her time.
Back at the main stage – Showtek. If there was more than two original songs in that set I would have been surprised. It was a sheer waste of confetti cannons and streamer.
Crookers, now one man down, delivered a playful outdoor set at the OWSLA stage, mixing Megan Trainor, Pete Tosh and Tiga into his gritty, grungy approach to electro. Detouring into dub and DnB, it all culminated in a double-bordering-on-triple time cut of Kid Cudi feature Day N Nite.
Zhu’s rejigged his audiovisual set since Listen Out, dropping the Roswell/space love theme but keeping his moody, Tao Lin detatchment. A typical Zhu track isn’t so much a rework as a complete rework: he rerecords vocals, inverts the colours and turns the saturation right down. The whole Zhu experience is beautiful and effective, but with such a tight A/V set up and a screen always in front of him, it’s difficult to feel any sense of audience interaction – which is probably how he likes it.
Porter Robinson, whose Flicker has been all over Triple J, draws on the same J-pop sources as Perth’s Sable – even his repitched vocals sound eerily like Sable’s Kanto EP. Robinson’s got a very earnest schtick – there’s a magical realist thread stringing together a very impressive audio visual set. an underused drum kit.
Stereosonic is very much a DJ’s dance festival – the only other live act was too-cool Berliners Booka Shade, whose sparse acoustic cymbal work was barely perceptible.
This year’s Recess marked an interesting shift in Skrillex’s work – but even amongst tempo shifts and Chance The Rapper features and the deliciously glitchy Doompy Poomp, his lead track was an unasahamed homage to Brostep. His set was one of the most satisfying, high-energy performances at the festival.
ZOE KILBOURNE AND MIA CAMPBELL-FOULKES