Live Review: Earthcore Festival (Part II) – Pyalong, Victoria (26.11.15 – 30.11.15)

I had an early night on Friday, ashamedly, but I wanted to save myself for Saturday, which turned out to be a massive evening, featuring the majority of the best artists throughout the entire festival.

Bass to Pain Converter were nothing short of fucking awesome. The Australian duo are making and mixing some seriously brutal techno of the dark and progressive nature. The vibe was one of almost pure evil hedonistic satisfaction. Dressed in black hoods and stood in front of a deep yellow visual production, the duo seemed as if their identity was one of utmost secrecy, with their stage presence completely embodying their music it felt as if in some kind of alternate reality they were placing marks on their dangerous enemies. Certainly a completely jaw dropping experience, the Australian duo have a long career of awesome proportions ahead of them, having only launched in 2014.

Argentina’s own Pfirter came on stage directly after Bass to Pain Converter, taking the vibe up a notch from the aforementioned darkness to one of fast paced, atmospheric and wonky techno. The transition actually worked in favour of MindTrip label owner. While certainly not as blatantly mean sounding as Bass to Pain Converter there are still dark undertones involved in a Pfirter set, yet they are more playful and encourage more movement on the dance floor. There is usually a high fidelity layer inside each of the songs Pfirter mixes together, wherein there are many beats per minute, over a steadier bassline, this combination has a unique reaction on the pleasure system of the brain.

Photo: Marty Knoll
Photo: Marty Knoll

It’s now 1am on Saturday night, and we are well and truly at the height of the serious musical frivolities on offer. Rodhad, hailing from Germany, specialises in dub-techno, techno and a little bit of house. His set was deep and satisfying, with a large dancing crowd amassing the DJ had a consistent smile on his face. Rodhad’s sound is a little bubbly, but still utterly industrial, intelligent and groovy.

Everything was going great, then somewhere along the way something completely mind bending happened. Not just mind bending, I’m talking one of the most amazing audio visual experiences I have ever bore witness to. A man appears from backstage on a platform stage left. He is wearing a psychedelic top hat and widespread beams of laser colours green, red and blue were being emitted from his hat and each of his fingertips in a dizzying array of awe inspiring technicolour.

Holding a guitar, the man began to shred soulful licks, creating heart touching harmonies over the heavy techno of Rodhad. In the thick of it all, the sheer beauty reminded me of Woodstock, not only because this man, godlike in stature, looked akin to Jimi Hendrix, but suddenly instrumental and electronic music were combining in perfect harmony. It was utterly blissful, and something I will never forget.

Musically, Chris Liebing was my favourite artist at Earthcore. I would like to say he was objectively the best, but there are just so many different genres and styles at the festival that I can probably only get away with saying that he was the best techno artist at Earthcore in 2015. ‘Dark’, ‘intense’ and ‘ominous’ are three words that would best describe the German producer and DJ’s music. Naturally, the time slot of 3:00am to 5:00am suited Liebing perfectly, in the dead of the night, the darkest hours before the dawn. Liebing’s visual show was equally as engrossing with purple being a theme. I simply couldn’t tear my eyes away from the producer as I examined the intense looks of determination and concentration on his face. He really wanted to take the crowd for a ride, and he most certainly did. This is a DJ I would make a lot of effort to see play live again.

Photo: Marty Knoll
Photo: Marty Knoll

It is now close to 7:00am on Sunday morning. I have been awake and raving for close to 19 hours. As you can imagine, the dance floor has thinned out a little bit but without a doubt, D.A.V.E the Drummer, one of the biggest names in techno worldwide, kicked us into the sunrise with style. As D.A.V.E takes over from Leibing there are enthusiastic cheers from the crowd. The pace picks up immediately, this is without surprise as the British producer is a pioneer of the Acid Techno sound.

As the first track in the set blasted through the Funktion One speaker system, which by the way has an absolutely phenomenal sound, a cheeky sample reverberates throughout the surrounding area of the main floor: “Do you know anything about techno-techno-techno-techno!?”. What ensued was an intense and feverish set of fast paced techno. There is always a cool contrast in seeing a veteran such as D.A.V.E the Drummer directly after a new wave pioneer such as Liebing. In real time. you see a stark progression from the past to the future. It’s an eye opening feeling.

After D.A.V.E the Drummer, I took some time to chill out at my campsite and then wondered over to the Hydra stage, where Japanese trance expert Tsuyoshi Suzuki was finishing off his set. If there is one thing that is attributable to progressive psytrance, it is complex layering and indefinable sounds. Suzuki’s set was utterly insane, full of squelchy sounds and elasticated bings and bongs. What made it so interesting was that Tsuyoshi was sitting down while he played. He had a fag hanging out of his mouth and the most intensified looks of sheer concentration on his face. It almost looked like a caricature of online gaming culture, where players sit engrossed in front of their computer, yet instead of a video game Suzuki was performing trance music in front of a few hundred people at 7:30am on a Sunday morning.

Photo: Marty Knoll
Photo: Marty Knoll

Back over on the main floor. Melbourne DJ Scott Alien was giving it his all. A longstanding artist and an underground figurehead of the 90’s Melbourne rave scene, there was a certain silliness that comes from the 21st century caricature that comes from reflection of what was the height of cool in the 90’s and early 2000’s. Perhaps it was just the onset of sleepless delirium, but I think this perspective comes from me being a young writer. I was born on the tail end of the 90’s and thus didn’t experience this rave movement for myself.

Interestingly enough, it was during this thought process that Scott Alien threw a curveball in his set, and dropped the most earth shattering break beat I have ever heard. There was something about the synth line that somehow surmised every experience and emotion I had ever perceived, and left me with all but the music to reflect on it.

Taking a few hours to sit down, seed out and eat a whole lot of food was definitely needed before seeing my final act for the festival, the legendary Infected Mushroom. Collectively heralded as the inventors of Psytrance the iconic duo, who hail from Israel, drew an enormous crowd to the main floor. To be honest, I wasn’t as impressed this time around as I was seeing Infected Mushroom as a live four piece band with guitar and electric drums, but the old school live set as a duo was still impressive enough, especially haven seen an taken in so much new music over the previous few days.

The maniacal genius of Infected Mushroom comes from taking the hits you know (“I’m the Supervisor”, “Becoming Insane”) and then manipulating where the bass drop is going to take place, keeping you on your toes and playing with your expectations. One thing is certainly for sure though, and that is that the biggest and the most famous artist is not necessarily always the best.

Earthcore is an absolutely wild festival. There is so much to discover and so much on offer for everyone’s different musical tastes. With a rich history, Earthcore is certainly one of Australia’s leading underground festivals, and more people should certainly know about it, to expand their entertainment options on the yearly calendar. You will certainly come away having taken on many new experiences, so approach it with an open mind, and get ready for the ride of a lifetime.


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