NYD Tribe Festival Review from InThemix.com.au

The inspiration of multiple Melbourne crews, this New Years Day bash took over staple venue Brown Alley with jungle inspired decor, innovative visuals and a swathe quality of international artists and local support. Genres be damned, the artists mixed and matched as they pleased all evening to an enthusiastic and friendly crowd. With the most consistently good music I’ve ever heard at any one Melbourne gig, Tribe has set a new standard for future broken beat events.

By 10:30, there was already a sizable (though quick moving) line outside. Inside, the sound quality was superior to what I’m used to hearing at Brown Alley, in both the downstairs main room and Blights bar upstairs. I’m not sure what extra tweaking or speakers were added but the results were well worth it.

Tribal decor abounded, with stretched banners across the ceiling, and shields made of bright led light ropes topping the stage. A 3 by 5 metre installation of flashing star lights complemented the brilliant lasers and lighting. The icing on the cake was the main room sound being piped to the mezzanine level – providing a slightly cooler and less crowded space to enjoy the main acts.

Unfortunately, the club is still as unpleasantly hot and sticky as it has ever been – surely with sell out events like this it wouldn’t bankrupt Brown Alley to install some air conditioning?

We arrived to Melbourne’s own Nick Thayer belting out bouncy, dirty electro breaks to an enthusiastic crowd. Like all of the following main room sets, the music was extremely varied with a mix of dubstep, breaks, glitch hop and electro house with a dose of tribal, reggae and fidget for good measure. His cheesy samples and air-horn topped it off. The wide appeal of the set had him filling both the main room and most of the mezzanine level early on.

The ever popular rooftop garden bar had been turned into a beach, complete with sand, beach umbrellas, bamboo screens, and bright plasma screens. This sound system had not been pimped, and levels were a bit low, perhaps to keep the neighbours happy and the space more chilled. Tommy Showtime spun some funky jazzy breaks and groovy glitch hop and Agent 86 was a popular set, packing it out with funk. At one point, the line to get in stretched down an entire floor around the stair well. Unfortunately, it was so smoky that it was difficult to spend long intervals outside enjoying it.

A-skills, also of the UK, took over in the main room with some ultra funky soulful breaks, hip hop, old school, rock and Motown. Showing off his quality scratching skills he had the excited crowd saying “YEAH for the funky beats”. He played stacks of great artists: Girl Talk, Daft Punk, Stevie Wonder, Jackson Five and Blur to name a few.

He varied from heavy and driving to more funky breaks, playing many of his own productions. The flow was excellent, and his seamless mixes were done skilfully off laptop, two CDJs, and a turntable – quite the setup! The set built into faster and more energetic tunes, with quick cuts to old school Pendulum, Prodigy and Queen. The crowd lapped up the creative and inventive selection, both dance-floors packed for the entire set.

Altruism is not an act I am familiar with, but I was quickly won over by the deep rolling bass, driving rhythms, and warm melodies that formed his liquid drum’n’bass set. The set rolled along smoothly with the occasional soulful vocal and no epic breakdowns or windups to disturb the flow of dancing. I was grateful that the MC showed unusual restraint and in doing so enhanced this set. This set, like the others, really benefited from the tweaked sound-system in Blights. He finished the set to a packed room, finishing with slower funky beats and rich bass that warming it down a bit for Mr Bukem.

This led almost seamlessly into London’s LTJ Bukem’s set. I’ve caught him once before at Origin in Perth and was looking forward to some intelligent dance-floor drum’n’bass. He did not disappoint – deep, liquid tracks ensued, bouncier and less driving than Altruism but otherwise very similar in style. The set had a bit of an old school jungle vibe with the soulful piano lines, chopped up amens and blissful melodies. MC Conrad, while initially well behaved, started to overdo it as the set went on. By the end, the subs had been put through an intense workout, but the set got a bit repetitive and could have used a bit more variety.

Next up, Belgian rising star Netsky upped the energy with pure dance-floor party action. Uplifting melodies, epic windups and cranking drops had the room going off and the room packed out. Given Netsky’s productions and prior sets, the set was a lot harder than expected but entirely appropriate. Not content to play pure drum’n’bass we heard seamless transitions to booty breaks, hip hop, old school jungle, and even a snippet of R’n’B. It would seem he paid attention to the diverse styles and funky mood of the party. At times things softened a bit, with smooth tracks like B-Complex Beautiful Lies and Spectrasoul’s deep bootleg of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep. We were pleased to hear him drop plenty of his own tracks such as Secret Agent and Memory Lane. The unexpected mashup/remix of Beastie Boys Intergalactic Planetary made my night.

London’s Stanton Warriors took over about 1:30. They eased into the set with suspense building techy breaks. Their first big track was Beatnuts’ Shake It Up – booty shaking goodness. Hands Up, another star tune started to play, but Stanton frustratingly fiddled with for literally minutes, not letting it break. Instead, they built suspense by continually winding it back…then dropped it into disappointing heavy dubstep, rather than its own amazing heavy breaks that I was itching to dance too.

Towards the end, they dropped deep bass backed breaks like Still Here (Bounce Funk Remix), the beats I felt like they’d been holding back before. They finished with solid track Precinct, but then gave an encore of chipmunk housey sounding Shoot me Down from their new album. I thought their set and mixing was passable but lacked the deep booty shaking breaks which they excel at producing. It seemed a rather mainstream for an event that otherwise showcased quality sets and DJs who read adeptly read the crowd and energy.

London based turntablists Scratch Perverts pulled out the vinyl for their set. Known for their scratching technique, creative sets, and full-on bassy sound, they played the heaviest set of the main room. Hip hop, heavy breaks, electro, and metal like System of a Down blasted over the system. They also threw in some quite unexpected things – like an expletive laden version of the Tetris tune! Unfortunately, their later set time meant they played to a sparser crowd and ended up repeating a few tracks heard earlier in the evening. Still, theirs was an inspired set; with 16 years experience, their sound is still relevant and their mixing skills are phenomenal.

By the end of the night, there was sandy mud in even the ground floor toilets, tracked down from the rooftop beach two floors above – yes, it was definitely an interesting night to remember.

Taken from www.inthemix.com.au


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