Boiler Room Sydney – live review

Boiler room .49 pm

When news broke that global underground club royalty, Boiler Room, was returning to Sydney I almost peed my pants.

If you don’t know the mythology, Boiler Room is pretty much the crème-de-la-crème of electronic and dance music underground clubs. It all began in the uber-hipster dwellings of Dalston London and garners its holy reputation by curating lineups that you thought only could exist in your dreams; calling the likes of Grimes to Thom Yorke to mount their stages on an average week day. Its overriding premise though is generating a huge amount of hype around an event where you can’t buy tickets and then streaming the ultimate FOMO exhibition of beautiful people and industry wankers live on the interwebs so the whole population knows exactly what their missing out on. It’s a pretty great concept and in four years has ascended to media empire status and craved itself as one of the most successful and illusive music platforms today.

Now was Sydney’s turn to show the world what we have to offer. To be honest my faith in the Sydney electronic music scene is pretty dismal. Most good DJ’s and music producers only get to be received by gangaish Future Music Festival-esque munters because our dear city’s intelligence towards this genre is severely under developed in comparison to Europe and America. The Club 77 crowd specs was clearly in part populated with this caliber of punters. While we also had a good turnout of people who were not just in it for a gurney soundtrack, I have to admit it put me off just a bit. One saving grace however was the fact that the dudes from Astral People curated the event. In my opinion they have been the ones picking up the extreme degrees of slack Sydney’s electronic music scene has to answer for.

First off the bat this evening were those oh-so sly and infinitively cool motherfuckers Black Vanilla; a godsend super group boasting members of Guerre, Collarbones and Marsellies off Astral’s own roster. This was probably the best opening slot as this group exhibit the best of Sydney’s electronic and R’n’B ventures at this current place in time. Also what I love most about these guys is their definitive ability to swoon the audience and make them surrender their most shameful bump and grind choreography ever conceivable.

Boiler room SydneyAfter this, the crowd was a well oiled machine. Next up-keeping along a similar reign of R’n’B tinged electronica, we were greeted by Basenji. Initially he started off by turning it down a notch with his more lighthearted Cashmere Cat-meets-Wave Racer kinda chestnut. Unfortunately though, Basenji’s set was where the crumbling of the venues sound capabilities began to rear its ugly and awkward head. One of the speakers kept on turning on and off and the levels went completely whack. He battled on with his minimalistic ‘good Ivy vibe’ electronics for a while before he dropped ‘Dawn’. At first I was really digging it until he started to sample a dog barking. I get it, he likes dogs – hence the name – but this particular 90’s Bahamen throwback was awkwardly jolting and was unfortunately (albeit not ALL the canine enthusiast’s fault as the failure of the sound engineer was bringing it down incredibly) was the final nail in the coffin for his set as it really wasn’t my kinda jam.

Right as Seekae’s George Nicolas was about to board the stage for his coveted DJ set, the technical problems imploded and we were in a state of shutdown, live and streaming to the rest of the world for about ten minutes. After a little bit of characteristically lame Boiler Room MC banter we were up and running again and Nicholas artfully brought us back into the groove of things with a delicious serving of bass and techno to remind us what the night is all about.

Next up, another third of the Sydney electronic outfit, John Hassel lent his hand on the decks which was equally impressive as we lost our heads in the music. Last, but not least, for this evening’s showcase of mostly a-grade Australian talent was the former Aussie hip hoppers-come-electronic music producers Hermitude. By this time it seemed that the room cleared out a bit, perhaps it was past people’s bed time, it was a school night after all. I was a massive fan of their last album Hyperparadise back in 2012, so I was pleased that most of the set comprised of these nostalgic gems. Unfortunately though, as all of Hermitude’s songs are so multilayered and bass heavy they suffered the most in terms of the evening’s continuous sound quality fuck-ups. In the end you could only hear half the track, being that the levels were completely off.

Overall, unfortunately due to some uncontrollable technical embarrassments and a weird mix of people ranging from future music-eque teenies to turbo hipsters, we probably won’t be able to crown this boiler room set a success. Not all was lost though as, through the cracks, we are able to discern Sydney has an awesomely unique offering towards the EDM moment. Namely Black Vanilla, Seekae and Hermitude could very well be the ones to make Sydney realise dance or techno music is not a dirty word.

Check out the online musical gloryhole that is the Boiler Room here. They are probably streaming live right now that DJ everybody has been frothing over this week in some place super dark and trendy cave far far away. So yeah. Check it….

jemma cole


Boiler Room Sydney review by Jemma Cole