Psytrance @ the Hifi? Vibesquad & Spoonbill School Brisbane

 Saturday’s much anticipated Vibesquad and Spoonbill gig was, well, as good as any gig at the perpetually overrated Hifi will get.

Liam Niko was not the ideal artist to kick off the night. His mixes were heavy on the bass, and had a melting quality which made them perfect for a slow, grinding dance, but not for getting the party started. The sound was sprinkled with an upbeat playful melody, and Niko made use of some nice Reggae samples, but overall the set lacked flow and continuity. With the many layers of the music drowning out the finer points, and no breakdown in sight, the crowd was reluctant to get out and have a dance. Niko can’t be blamed entirely for the confused sounds though. Bigger is not always better, and many in the crowd commented that the Hi Fi was not the ideal venue for the genre, that the sound technicians had the bass cranked a little too much.

Bumble’s set started off strongly, integrating heavy drum and bass with that classic boom bap hip-hop sound we all know and love (and definitely don’t get enough of!). Bumble toyed with a plethora of genres, moving from hip hop to swing to middle eastern sitars to a south american festival sounds. The drum and bass tied the whole set together nicely, although transitions could have been smoother. Props for incorporating rainforest sounds and didgeridoo samples in this diverse set.

Spoonbill was next up, showing the new-comers how it’s done. Spoonbill’s set, above all else, delivered the perfect synchronicity and continuity  needed to get the dance floor going. This DNB master’s sounds were fresh: the build ups gave way to sneaky flute solos, Russian folk music, Caribbean melodies, reggae, rap, and the odd foray into swing. Spoonbill knows how to get the party started, and within minutes of starting his set the dance floor had finally come to life.

Vibesquad was next, and his set brought the crowd into major squelch territory. The beats were strong, but they didn’t last long before giving way to squishy glitch. Vibesquad’s music is great to listen to, but difficult to dance to as his flirtation with multiple genres doesn’t let the crowd know what he’s going to do next. Just when you’re getting into your groove the music switches from drum and bass grind to hip hop, and the booty doesn’t know which way to shake. Which, for some, is half the fun of it. Kudos to Vibesquad for being the only artist of the night to incorporate some decent vocal samples, which added flair and personality to his set.

The major acts were clearly in their comfort zone, a zone they were able to expand to incorporate the entire crowd despite their initial hesitation. If Vibesquad and Spoonbill taught us anything that night it was this: DJs should  never just stand there expressionless. You have to be excited to make your crowd excited too. That said, all in all it was a stellar show and the local talent showed an abundance of potential.