Since they first started throwing parties in 2010, Novel has become the touring agency for underground dance music in Melbourne. Having showcased an already stellar list of artists over the past three-and-a-bit years, they now stand alone as the premier supplier of your favourite dance acts in Australia. Smalltown is simply one aspect of their wider brand, and has so far brought you the likes of Marcel Dettmann, Ben Klock, Todd Terje, Soul Clap, Dixon, Huxley, Nina Kraviz and DJ Koze, among others. For their third party of an already stellar 2014, Smalltown presented a live show from German legend Henrik Schwarz, accompanied by Pan-Pot and Danny Daze. With strong local support from Edd Fisher, Isaac Fryer and Muska, the night was set to be great.
The mood of the night was well and truly set with a stellar warm up set from Melbourne’s own Edd Fisher, who played a perfect mix of house and techno to gently lift the vibe. His track selection went down perfectly, filling the main room gradually with the stepping feet of eager punters. While only the pre-show to something bigger, his set was a strong reminder of Fisher’s place in the upper echelons of Melbourne’s dance scene.
Outside, Danny Daze’s set pumped in stark contrast to the tunes being dropped inside, and he had the crowd jumping by midnight despite the awful smokers room sound. Characterised by an early spin of Oskar G and Ralph Falcon’s ‘Dark Beat’, Daze toed the line between light-hearted and serious as he navigated his way through a three-hour set. After a temporary lull in numbers due to the imminent commencement of Henrik Schwarz’s set in the main room, the Miami based DJ dropped the New Order classic ‘Blue Monday’, much to the delight of a crowd ready to let loose. He mixed solidly throughout and presented a strong set only jarred by the below par audio setup. Kudos to Danny for making it work, but his set highlighted the need for Brown Alley to act on the system in its smoking area or avoid booking headliners to play there, particularly if it plans to continue hosting major dance acts.
Henrik Schwarz kicked off with one of the most intense intros you are ever likely to see. With punters eager with anticipation and raring to go following Edd Fisher, hands were quickly in the air as the telltale vocals of Schwarz’s ‘Walk Music’ blared across the main room. His heavy intro has become a staple of his live set, and for good reason. The German didn’t look back from that point onwards, making his way across a large portion of his discography as he went from strength to strength. His remix of The Detroit Experiment’s ‘Think Twice’ was dropped to the absolute delight of everyone at Brown Alley. Whistles, yells and claps filled the room as the extended trumpet solo punctured the air. Schwarz never diverged too far from the early vibes of the set, but gradually lifted the tempo as Pan-Pot neared.
The young German duo arrived to a crowd who were well and truly oiled. Regardless, tales of the two as schoolboy producers who spent their evenings frequenting Watergate only to hear their own tunes being spun by the world’s most famous DJs were very clearly reality. The pair played a strong and dark set filled with exactly the type of techno that suited the hour. The crowd loved it, and Pan-Pot proved an excellent conclusion to a great night.
Overall another solid night run by Novel supported by a number of top sets from the acts booked. The only dampener of an otherwise unreal evening was the unfortunate smokers room sound setup.