Words: Rene Shellis
The boutique behemoth that is Novel returned to the suburban edges of Melbourne with the latest installment of their smalltown event. The team behind B3 promised to deliver butterflies with their latest warehouse endeavor featuring international selectors Ben Klock, Jennifer Cardini and Mind Against backed up with a solid roster of local talent.
Finding unique spaces is what Novel does best with previous smalltown events located at Caulfield Racecourse, Marvel Stadium Carpark, and Catani Gardens to name a few. This event was no different. Even in the current climate of gentrification and property development, new creative spaces can still be found and transformed into a sonic playground.
Located in Thornbury, the northern setting was an interesting area to find such a space. After entering the venue, a stage instantly greeted us with an aura of warm lights and deep club cuts oozing out of the speakers. Here, local artists teased dancers with funky house rhythms, a perfect side dish for the outdoors. It was a space to grab something to eat and sit on the grass to relax before entering the warehouse for a techno fix.
John Fish was our lighting specialist and interior designer for the day. Three squares transmitted solar flares over the room, painting the space with strokes of colour while laser beams flickered over the crowd. The above two strips were a highway of light which showered over our heads. At the back of the warehouse, a few empty rooms were built into a safe space for punters to kick back. The gentle light giving the room a hazy glow which reminded me of the ambiance of Novel’s greenhouse tent at Pitch Music and Arts Festival.
The first international of the evening was Jennifer Cardini whose unique stylistic technique was a welcoming transition from the funky local Jennifer Loveless who played beforehand. Her set was full of sonic power featuring techno beats with an electro undertone dribbled with disco vocal samples. Mind Against contrasted this with their progressive sound introducing a pounding psychedelic soundscape, wooing the punters with a deep pressure emitted from the sub frequencies, and truly testing the limits of the Funktion speakers. Ben Klock closed the night with a mind-melting 3-hour set jumping between different shades of techno with the finesse expected from the Berghain resident.
Tune of the day: Rene Wise – Spirit Molecule
A personal favourite of mine is this track played early in Ben Klock’s set. It was inspiring to hear Klock play this track in the middle of a warehouse in between pounding techno tracks, his selection refined and intelligent. It is an accurate representation of how diverse and eclectic the music was at smalltown. It pushed the boundaries of dance music, sharing what was new, what was different and what was good. Line-ups like this are what make Novel events so unique. They strive to bring in the best of the best from music, to lighting, down to the performance of their speakers, with their efforts visibly appreciated by the people around me. There is no doubt I’ll be back for the next event, swimming in a sea of like-minded dancers.