Summer Dance #2 @ National Art School
Reviewed on Sunday February 19
The second episode of this year’s Summer Dance series took place in the sandstone comforts of Darlinghurst’s National Art School over the weekend. Refreshingly compact in its size and stage design, it’s fast become Sydney’s yearly signature Sunday session.
With the Summer Dance event now into its third season, Astral People have made a remarkable effort to curate an incredible bill year after year, plucking veterans and up-and-comers alike to satisfy even the most nitpicking of critics. After playing host to one of Europe’s most sought-after DJs, Palms Trax, in January, its follow-up dance session was distinctly local in flavour, but no less in pedigree.
The highlight of the day was arguably the second cab off the rank, live outfit The Possé. Featuring a well-respected, seasoned stock of Australian electronic music producers and musicians, their driving jazz-funk built a hell of a groove. Front and centre on bass duties was festival favourite Touch Sensitive, whose funky, fleshy basslines gradually grew bolder as the band built from a simmering repose. Armed with the ever-reliable Juno-60 synthesizer, Andrew Bruce expertly flavoured the groove with graceful jazzy keys. The performance culminated in ‘MS-DOS’, a track built on a dusty bass-and-keys Detroit rhythm, and its short, insistent guitar riff evoked a French house twist. This was live house music, a distinction no less aided by a faithful rendition of Mr. Fingers’ house anthem ‘Can You Feel It’.
With the sun fading fast, CC:Disco took the reins for the coveted Sunday evening spot, stirring the fresh-faced young crowd with a high-energy set of ’80s boogie and tribal rhythms. She is championed for her outstanding radio shows, and her bubbly character and proven tastemaking were on full show.
The Bermuda trio then followed, led by Melbourne’s effervescent analogue synthesist Harvey Sutherland. Following a remarkable string of releases transcendent of genre, Sutherland’s productions are revered for their characteristic restraint. The live format afforded these extended boogie explorations the chance to evolve. Alongside looped rhythms, the relentless, tireless drumming of Graeme Pogson supplied a platform for both the delayed echoes of Tamil Rogeon’s electric violin and Sutherland’s Juno-60 synth noodling and modulations, adding layers to the underlying melodic synth motifs. Rogeon was featured sparingly throughout the performance, the nuance of his strings a little lost in the mix, but his bombastic character spurred the now-lively crowd onto a greater gear.