Review: Machinedrum | Civic Underground, Sydney

Written By Matthew Fiacchi on 12/06/2016

Machinedrum

Hot off the heels of his latest album – the excellent Human Energy -, DWN’s new favourite producer Machinedrum played an absolutely killer set of shows in Australia last week.

Walking into Sydney’s Civic Underground to the sound of HYRULE‘s warmup mix set the vibe for the night. Gig-goers were greeted by the smell of incense – fitting given the New Age themes on Human Energy. The excellent Phondupe followed up with a live set complete with visuals. Featuring an eclectic, pulsing mix of organic, earthy, crystalline sounds, the set felt almost videogame-y – like the inside of my childhood imagination. In a criminally short half an hour, I felt like I had been lifted into a whole new world (and yes, now I have Aladdin in my head, too. You’re welcome.)

Next up was JNR with a heavier, more intense offering. The crowd was pumping by this stage, eagerly waiting for the headline act to start. Also, on that note: seriously? A midnight headline on a Wednesday night? Am I getting old, or is that just a little outrageous?

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As he stepped up to the stage, dressed completely in white like the lit-est cult leader of all time, Machinedrum addressed the crowd: ‘Give it up for yourselves real quick!’ – what a way to open. Where last year’s set at Goodgod Plan B Hudson Ballroom was a dark, jungle-drenched affair, this time around Machinedrum brought us firmly into the light. The hour and a half-long set was full of Machinedrum’s energetic brand of positive energy from the get go. The bright, trippy visuals on display flowed and spun into one another to the beat of tracks like Morphogene, White Crown and older cuts like his excellent remix of Beyonce’s Mine.

Each track in the set sounded as if it had been fed through the Human Energy filter. Like a prism of colour and energy, every unreleased track, remix and classic Machinedrum song could have easily been mistaken for an album track this time around. Nowhere else did this marriage of old and new pay off more than during the mashup of Dos Puertas and the still-excellent Back Seat Ho midway through the set. I mean, I’ve never cried at a gig before but you know what? I came close during that one. Tremendous scenes.

It’s good to know that Machinedrum’s new direction holds up just as well as his classic material. The live setting brought out a whole new element to the tracks – deep, pounding, powerful bass grounded some of the more ethereal tracks, and Machinedrum’s hectic controller skills (seriously dude, how do your thumbs still work?!) provided some unexpected FX and added goodies to otherwise familiar tracks.

In one of his many crowd interactions of the night, Machinedrum stated, ‘I love getting weird with you guys’, and you could definitely feel both the love AND the weirdness in the room (Speaking of which, to the dude who came up to me just to say ‘I really like you’ and then disappeared: please call me.) The crowd was diverse, but we all knew every beat, every drop and every word by heart. If the goal of the Human Energy tour was to bring the audience together on the dancefloor, it’s safe to say that mission was accomplished.

Now, I wasn’t able to catch the final act of the evening (it was a school night and I’m ancient, okay?), but my sources tell me it was the perfect bookend to an absolutely killer night. Whilst it was a more uplifting, brighter affair than last year’s Vapor City Tour, it was no less energetic and classically ‘Machinedrum’. Now all we need is a Machinedrum x DWN tour and he would probably fulfill all of my wildest dreams.