Rain, thunderstorms and the NSW Government’s festival regulations threatened to put a dampener on Days Like This (9 March) in Sydney, but the punters were having none of it.
Despite the chilly and wet start, they still arrived kitted in glitter, short shorts, festival boots and Hawaiian shirts eager for the beats to drop, so they could pound the grass into mud.
Sydney police and sniffer dogs were on hot patrol, but they weren’t to be outdone by the Keep Sydney Open contingent who marked a stall inside the front gates maintaining a strong presence to save our festivals from over regulation.
Inside, 24 of the biggest techno, electronica and dance DJs from around the world worked across 3 stages, each with their own dedicated atmosphere. And each only a stone's throw from one another, so you literally could 'catch it all' if that was your game.
The Times Likes This stage was a personal favourite. Decked out as a giant disco ball it threw homage to the '70s and '80s disco ages with impressive 90-minute sets by CC:Disco!, who played it cool in between hugs with mates, and Horse Meat Disco who got the hips moving and the feet stepping with his brand of sexy brass and samba-style dance tracks.
UK-based artist DJ Harvey changed up the beat with an eclectic set of tripped-out mixes, but as the sun went down and the disco ball shone in the glow of neon spotlights, the artist of the stage was Charlotte de Witte.
Arms up, the crowd praised her bass-heavy high-energy remix of Dave Simon’s 'Stripes Of Soden', dirty-slick rock & roll mix of 'Get Up! Go Insane' and electro-house mix of Envoy’s 'Dark Maneuvers'.
On the other side of the park was the Moments Like This stage. More simply presented and far less themed, its DJs took out shorter one-hour sets and offered a wide range of sounds and styles.
UK’s Ross From Friends drew in the numbers with a live saxophone and guitar accompanying his lo-fi electronic sounds, while America’s Avalon Emerson brought her quirky experimental beats to the stage.
But the main stage – aptly titled Days Like This – was where it was at. Located front and centre punters pushed barriers even as the rain pelted down during Recondite’s sweet electronic set. Poncho-proud and wet haired, their hands were up in anticipation of the beat drops as he spun out favourites like 'Thorn'.
Denis Sulta did the Scots proud, his blond mop bouncing as he danced to the grove of his own powerhouse disco beats. It was his first time playing Sydney and he lapped up every bit of it, working the crowd, celebrating with mates on stage and smoking while spinning, because that’s his schtick.
His set was utterly addictive and feel-good. It’s little wonder he’s attracted such a responsive audience – even with the water still sprinkling down on Victoria Park.
Four Tet’s energy levels were right on point. This afternoon, laying on some jazzed-up new tracks to festival goers that raved and raised (and tipped) their drinks to him.
But the show-stopper and man of the hour was Sven Väth. With the sun set and expectations high, shirts were well and truly off and shoulders well and truly stacked to catch the German DJ in action.
His was a killer two-hour set, mixed to the tastes of ambient techno tracks like 'Acid Party (Red Axes remix)' and more hard-hitting, club-friendly blisters that can’t keep a good dancer down – including himself. It’s his second Days Like This, having played 2018, but he’s already calling it the best yet.
We’ll see you next year, then?