Review: Smalltown at B3
It’s the morning after the first B3, an event which took place in the soon to be rebranded Marvel Arena. I’m sipping on a watermelon Gatorade and trying to imagine how people could still be partying to the pulsating sounds of Charlotte De Witte at Revs as I type this, any bender that started at 9pm last night and continues on ’til 5pm tonight really needs to be commended, a proper 9 to 5 shift. Reading through my phone’s notes I have scribed several mentions of how good those Souvas smelt on the way in, how impressed I am with the set up and have found I have 3 voice memos trying to record a song that feature an inaudible frequency of bass in the background and the crushing sound of my mates voice asking “how fucken good is this!?!”. So good.
Strolling into the Etihad carpark at about ten thirty it was quite intriguing. Watching groups of people take all their gear at once for fear of being caught by the 3 black labs that sniffed around the arena’s entrance was a musing situation. Even in 2018, it’s nice to know our state government would still rather punters take all of their substance at once rather than safely over the course of the next 8 hours. After a quick border security level pat down we arrived at the stage. My initial feelings were the walls reminded me of something akin to Xe54’s big badder cousin. A much larger room decked out in LED ceiling lights, a big sound system, sweaty people and to my surprise, the welcome scent of a 3am kebab wafting through the dance floor.
Going into B3 I had my reservations, it seems Melbourne has developed a habit recently of thinking that by sprinkling a few Funktion-One’s in corners of a room and strapping some lacklustre laser beams to the ceiling in an industrial space, makes your event a seriously top shelf production, some kind of fake illusion of being in a European 90’s rave. But In the case of B3 this was actually quite the opposite. First lets grapple with the elephant in the room. A bloody underground carpark. The event organisers skilfully fitted out this echo chamber with a number of custom made initiatives that kept the audio quality at a very decent standard and tackled one of the main issues head on, acoustically B3 passed its principal test.
After copping a fair bit of stick for the lack of art at this years ‘Pitch Music and Arts’ festival, it felt event organisers tried to make up for their shortcomings by going out of their way to showcase something a little bit different at B3. To be honest I was quite impressed with most of the installations, they were unique, interesting and whilst I need to look up the meaning behind the piece by OCTA, I’m going to take a stab in the dark and assume their Dexter-esque installation, had some kind of abstract message about the 5000 or so people that attended the event.
Towards the end of the night it was disappointing to see a lot of these pieces destroyed or stolen, maybe that was their intended purpose, or maybe drugs, alcohol and excitement don’t go down well with treating things that aren’t yours with respect? Needless to say, I don’t blame Novel, or any other event organisers for leaving these kinds of things off their plans until there is a change in the way we view them.
Due to a Didi fuck around (seriously, sort out your app) and a cancelled Uber, I was only able to catch the end of Sydney-sider Adi Toohey’s set. From a few accounts her reputation was only bolstered for her time at B3, quietly, Toohey is setting foundations for a big Summer and may find herself in hot demmand. The perfect homegrown talent to warm up the steadily filling carpark for Gerd Janson. Coming out to a large applause, Gerd took up where he left off, after receiving accolades for his BOG performance at the inaugural Pitch and arguably the best Boiler Room of the year at Sugar Mountain, anticipation was high and the man who presumably has a wardrobe consisting only of white shirts. brought home the chocolates. Weaving between disco and piano driven house tracks
Janson had even the hardest Techno heads moving, Melbourne’s infatuation with the Running Back bossman continues.
Up next was DJ Koze, making his return to our shores for the first time in several years and an artist who quite possibly delivered on album of the year with ‘Knock Knock’. The last time I saw Koze play I would describe his set as versatile, it was unexpected, experimental and certainly confused more than a handful of Brits on a German lake. Starting hard and continuing that trend throughout his set, Koze seemed to be playing as a support for Charlotte De Witte rather than his usual, idiosyncratic self. Koze’s steady build ups and large drops showcased B3’s audio capabilities for the first time, his selection of songs such as ‘Gregor Tresher - Substance’, were fan favourites and certainly did the enormous sound system justice.
Closing with Summer anthem, ‘Pick Up’ felt slightly forced and a way to thank those disappointed fans who had stuck around for two hours to hear more of his latest album. Whether it was a decision tailored to the heavy-loving crowd, or simply to set up for a mammoth set from De Witte, the uncharacteristic heavy style by the German giant was a change of pace from what his biggest fans would have been expecting. Playing again on Saturday night, I’d assume punters could expect a Koze with free reigns to dabble in techno, house and popular disco edits of Låpsley Hits.
Gasping for air I retreated from the sweaties of the main dance floor and opted to watch Charlotte De Witt from afar. De Witte’s set certainly didn’t lack any oomf and she took the speakers for a ride, the stage sounded and felt like a weapons testing zone. Right now, I’m still on the fence whether I liked or disliked what I heard of the young Belgian DJ and producer, certainly for the predominately harder inclined audiences of B3 De Witte evoked elation with each selection.
Flicks: Shaki Prasanna