FREEDOM TIME @ Gloucester Park gets 7.5/10

Freedom Time
Gloucester Park
Saturday, June 10, 2017

7.5/10

After a big debut NYE Party in Perth, Freedom Time has established itself as a new brand on the scene, promoting unique, boutique outdoor festivals with a quality selection of DJs and live acts, from around the country and around the world. The focus is on dancing and the music – underground house, techno, disco, funk and everything in between – and putting on gigs with a real block-party, warehouse kind of vibe.

A collaborative effort incorporating the Polyrhythmic and MOVE crew, the Winter Edition of the festival saw them bringing a hand picked lineup of diverse acts to town, including the legendary British DJ Harvey, Ukrainian techno wunderkind Vakula, and setting up shop in a corner of the Grandstand down at Gloucester Park.

Following a big turnout in Melbourne, unfortunately the punters didn’t show up in large numbers in Perth. Whether it was the time of year, the weather, or that there’s not enough people who appreciate a quality curated lineup of disco, techno and house music selectors, it’s hard to say. But it was still an ample crowd of discerning dancers that came down and were treated to some very fine music indeed.

There were two separate areas set up – the smaller, more intimate Polyrhythmic room upstairs, that had been decked out nicely to create a real clubby, warehouse vibe. While it was a cold night, things got hectic up there with people working up a sweat early on to the sounds of local luminary Phil Stroud and Cranioid who delivered a thumping live set of house.

The downstairs area was a long narrow space, with plenty of room and easy access to food and drinks (including free coffee and donuts!) and a custom bamboo booth setup down the end, where a crowd formed under the giant hanging disco ball. Local heavyweight selectors Jaxon & Henry Maxwell teamed up to kick off things early, while MOVE’s main men Ben M and Ben Taaffe stepped things up.

The vibe was starting to build by the time Melbourne’s legendary DJ JNETT stepped up behind the bamboo. A rare Perth appearance, it was great to see JNETT in town, and she spun a wicked set of deep, thumping, chunky sounds. Intently focussed on her mixing, she blended old school house and rave vibes, with cool electro sounds, including a great remix of Black Eyed Peas’ Weekend. A great set and a nice lead up to Harvey, let’s hope to see her back soon.

Meanwhile upstairs in the Polyden, another one of Australia’s leading ladies of dance, Perth’s own legend Rok Riley was playing a banging set of soulful electro thumpers in her inimitable style. It’s not often Riley plays out these days, stepping out from behind the mic, hosting her Friday Full Frequency show that she’s been hosting on RTRFM for eight years (and several before that with Dan The Man). Looking resplendent in a silver shiny shirt, she took us to space and back with her excellent extra-terrestrial soundwaves. She really seemed to be enjoying the opportunity to spread her wings, dropping some proper dancefloor business.

Her infectious smile and positive vibes permeated the room as she grooved to the beat, mixing tech and disco flavours. Fear-E’s huge tune The Dam drew whoops of delight from the jumpin’ crowd. A real retro electro acid-funk banger. With some dark, red lighting and plenty of smoke, there were some proper warehouse vibes.

Riley handed over to Mike Midnight on a jungle tip, and he inherited an up-for-it crowd. Starting strong, he kept the attention of the crowd with his cool live beats. Unfortunately tech problems hampered his set, and he had to abort.

Meanwhile downstairs the veteran, DJ Harvey, was getting stuck into some sunny, slinky grooves, warming up the cold space. With his glasses, slicked-back hair, beard and army jacket, he looked very much an elder statesmen. He even has a custom monitor – a single headphone with a handle.

His funky disco grooves  and percussive tropical vibes are timeless and easy to enjoy, and he slowly built up the crowd with tracks like Joey Negro’s It’s More Fun To Compute. It was a small crowd by his standards, but testament to his greatness, he didn’t let it phase him and continued to read the crowd and drew people in all night with his immaculate selections.

Upstairs Vakula was putting on a clinic, providing for those who wanted something a bit harder. It was loud, banging techno, with heavy, pounding bass.  The abrasive Jump Over Barrels by Crash Course In Science really got the dancefloor moving. The last 15 off minutes of his set was epic, one of the best techno sets this here reviewer’s witnessed in some time.

Babicka did a great job following on seamlessly in the same vein, and kept the crowd engaged, though was a hard act to follow, and his music seemed a bit more straight up, lacking that edge.

Harvey finished off the night downstairs with a dedicated crowd of dance disciples, who were digging his exotic vibes, perhaps more suited to a balmy summer sunset on the beach, but he kept bringing the heat with a cracking final section of his three hour set of good time music. Just an incredibly experienced selector and collector, you could feel the love come through in his music with Deadly Sins’ Hooked On Your Love and the awesome soulful disco sounds of Nowhere from Hokis Pokis.

Pity was not a bigger crowd down to enjoy this quality event. Keep striving for greatness. Freedom Time has the right idea and provided a great opportunity to get free on the dancefloor. And that’s what the kids came to do.

ALFRED GORMAN

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