Days Like This was a boutique festival held at Randwick Racecourse, featuring many of the artists who played at Melbourne’s Pitch Festival over the weekend. The afterparty featured three important names in German techno: Head High, Paula Tempe, and new talent Dr Rubinstein in the Oxford Art Factory.
The party was both an embodiment of the problems faced in post-lockout laws Sydney, and a reminder of what the city could be like. On the one hand, everything is muted – people aren’t as loose as they used to be, they’re mindful of the time, they aren’t meeting new people on Oxford Street. And there just aren’t as many of them in the club. On the other hand, there are promoters with great taste and vision (in this case, Charades), and a disparate group of people willing to put up with everything to hear great music. That is the final point: good music is just good music, and the Days Like This Afterparty was a reminder of that.
First up was Dr Rubinstein, who, true to reputation, built a set around acid and atmospheric techno. At this point, the room was moderately full, but not packed. You felt the contrast: here was a rising star in techno playing to a room that was immersed in afterglow. It didn’t help the vibe that behind the small crowd were a group of roadies packing up after the band that had played earlier. Dr Rubinstein’s selections and energy were so compelling that we eventually blocked the background out.
Shed/Head’s music is all about afterglow and nostalgia for better times, and in this way he’s oddly appropriate in Sydney. Looking a bit like a jolly German engineer, he followed Dr Rubinstein with his trademark rave-centred house and techno. Starting with Doms & Deykers’ ‘It’s You I See,’ he moved to harder, sub-heavy breaks and proper techno. Dr Rubinstein danced the whole time right at the front, and there was a bit of a communal moment when the first bars of Shed’s own classic ‘Well Done My Son’ came through the speakers (which Dr Rubinstein herself noted on her Facebook page). It was a reminder that despite all of Sydney nightlife’s problems, good music is just good music.
Like Shed, Paula Temple has been in the German techno scene since the ‘90s. Her live set felt like the concentration of big moments over many years, and there was a sense she knew exactly when to bring in this or that frequency, or take it away. It’s telling that it felt late by this point in a club on Oxford Street, yet it was only just past 1.30 am. But the music was enough to keep people, and this is the point: if nothing else, Sydney is a young, large, international city, with people who want culture, including electronic music culture. No chino-wearing undercover cop could claim that the crowd dancing to Paula Temple constituted any kind of danger. The powers that be need to stop regarding that culture and the people who make it as a threat.