Words: Max Davine
The doors opened at 9pm. Those who were around fifteen years ago would have known what to expect from the Night Cat. Once a thriving, in the round rock’n’roll venue, it’s a huge space complete with two stages and a well-staffed bar. A die-hard rock and blues fan, I spent many a balmy summer night catching the next generation of Melbourne bands before they got too big for me to get close to. It has been standing for over thirty years, and survived the great live-music cull six or so years back, which claimed the nearby Tote and St. Kilda’s Memo Hall. It was a jazz venue before my time, before becoming a place of hard rock. Now, since new owners Andrew and Justin took over, it is being brought into the twenty-first century. Kicking and screaming…or that might just be the reviewer. I was, however, exceptionally glad to see that the décor, at least had not changed.
The music, however, is something entirely different. The night’s organizer, Huw Nolan, warmed up the sparse crowd by spinning tracks of his own. His mixing deck was impressive, boasting the duel turntables and even a proper turntable, for the lovers to true music with actual substance. However, this is a techno house party, and substance is neither wanted nor welcome. Thud after thud, the revelers slowly filled the enormous bar. Nolan and his business partner Hugh McClure seem to have gotten things off to a rolling start.
Of his choice of music to promote, Nolan said that he “felt a vacancy for electro” in Melbourne, and wanted to open “another avenue for techno house by introducing mixed electro genres to techno house fans”.
Corin opened the night with her duel keyboards, and seemed very busy as she switched between the two and had to deal with a small mixing deck as well. Despite the glorious absence of a laptop, she didn’t get much of a rise out of her audience with her hypno-style tracks, however the techno fan is an eerie creature, when presented with vast, melodic soundscapes. They sway from side to side, in unison, possibly drugged up to the eyeballs, or possibly just preparing to find some innocent brains to feed upon. That, they inform me, is ‘going spastic’ where this particular genre is involved. Corin did, however, produce some fascinating sounds with her unique, low-key style.
Next up was Melbourne boy Oscar Key Sung, and sing he actually did. He took to the giant mixing table and populated it with his laptop, something he thankfully alternated with a keyboard and microphone, with which he gave us some refreshing vocals, in a genre and style unfamiliar to them. A true perfectionist, he got off to some false starts, apologized, and began over. Always better than carrying on with a limp. His vocals were sweet and measured and suited his sparse soundscapes perfectly. However, there was still very little arousal of the crowd, until the tempo began to lift, and finally we saw some movement. No sooner, however, had he began to command the crowd, that Oscar left the stage to leave room for our headliner, Clark.
Finally, the enormous mixing table was used to its full potential, but sadly for the traditionalists there remained no actual vinyl or CDs to give “spinning tracks” its literal meaning. But Clark did again bring us an actual instrument, which is always in the highest favour. With them he took it up to fifth gear, and the Night Cat finally pulsed and pounded with the sounds of techno. He led the crowd and enjoyed his work, and his love for it was infectious. Ever a man of few words, he said he “enjoyed it” of the Night Cat before leaving the stage.
All in all, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves in one way or another. There was loud beats, fast beats, hypno beats- everything a techno fan could have asked for.
Feature image credit: Facebook