Reviewed on Friday November 29

On a dreary, soggy Friday night, global electronic tastemakers Resident Advisor and Sydney-based promoter Astral People teamed up to throw the seventh installment in the RA ‘VS’ series. Pitting UK producer FunkinEven, from the Eglo Records stable, against Sydney’s enigmatic wunderkind Dro Carey, the ‘DJ battle’ was more an exercise in appreciation of each producer’s music taste, with each delving into some of their favourite tracks.

Honestly, I’m glad it turned out that way because there’s something a little gimmicky about the whole ‘battling’ concept – probably something that works better in a hip hop/rap context.

With the weather ensuring a smaller-than-expected crowd at the Civic Underground, the enthusiasm in the appropriate basement spaces was undeniable, with calculated servings of late night bass and techno. Dro Carey kicked off proceedings with a conservative set that stayed true to the groovy confines of future bass, occasionally dropping some funk-inspired tech and Detroit house. All the disparate sounds and elements which go into Carey’s minimal yet jarring grime production, displayed in this year’s Brand Ambassador mixtape and Vital Trails EP, were showcased as the crowd nodded away in approval.

Lifti the vibe from appreciation to a more dance-friendly yet cerebral atmosphere, FunkinEven took over the mix with a more funk-heavy flavour. On his second trip to Sydney, the West London producer was in a pretty nonchalant mood (possibly a little miffed by the small crowd), but cruised stylishly through an eclectic selection of tracks. Though there wasn’t the experimentalism that one might have expected from two producers renowned for their esoteric personas, it was comforting to see these artists sharing some of their favourite tracks without a ‘look-at-me’ bravado.

Spinning late into the night, the producers switched it up on multiple occasions, giving moments of contrast and harmony. The engaged crowd clearly enjoyed both artists’ music selections and understated mixing talents. With seven shows in this format already under their belt, expect more nights with RA and Astral People’s stamp of approval.

BY LARRY LAI

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