Dillon Francis’ deep house loving alter-ego DJ Hanzel jumped behind the decks at Hudson Ballroom last night for one very special afterparty. JULES LEFEVRE was there to witness it.
It’s rare to see DJ Hanzel in the wild. For the most part, the sunglasses-clad alter-ego of Dillon Francis is confined to our screens, concerning himself educating the public and fellow DJs in the art of going vun deeper. Since he was first introduced back in 2013, the German DJ has popped up all over Instagram and YouTube, even scoring his own, very serious talk show.
But it’s not often you get to see DJ Hanzel in his natural habitat: behind the decks. Back in 2014, Hanzel first got the opportunity to open for Dillon Francis at his ‘I Don’t Give A Fuck Or Santa Tour’, delivering 15 epic minutes of his beloved (not-so-deep) “deep house”. Since then, he’s dropped mixes for Diplo & Friends and BBC1, and occasionally lowered himself to remixing some of Francis’ bigger hits.
But despite all this, DJ Hanzel still hadn’t made an appearance Down Under. Until last night.
After Dillon Francis played to a sold out Metro Theatre, he donned some Ray Bans, hopped over to the sweaty Hudson Ballroom and stepped up for his first ever Australian set as DJ Hanzel. Those expecting a comedy show with a little bit of mixing on the side were in for a surprise — there was no mucking around here.
From the moment he cracked it open with Breach’s track ‘Jack’, Hanzel didn’t pause for breath. He threw in crowd-pleasers like Disclosure’s ‘When The First Starts To Burn’, Jess Glynne’s ‘Hold My Hand’ and Garmiani’s ‘Dance Motherfucker’. Better yet was the late appearance of I Monster’s classic 1998 cut ‘Daydream In Blue’ (“the deepest song you’ll ever hear,” according to Hanzel.)
The crowd lapped it up: many shoeys were poured and a sea of Gerald piñatas bobbed above heads. At one stage they were even too rowdy for Hanzel, who had to shout “Can you stop making that woop woop noise!?” at a few enthusiastic punters.
“Security didn’t quite know how to handle the influx of Gerald piñatas”
Security didn’t quite know how to handle the influx of piñatas — as crowds entered the Metro earlier in the night, one exasperated attendant hit breaking point: “What is with this shit? We already have like 30 ponies in the cloakroom!” Just as she said it, another two Geralds were taken from their owner’s arms and carted away by security.
Despite security’s best efforts, there were still plenty of contraband ponies floating through the crowd at both shows.
Apart from a couple of shouts of “GO VUN DEEPER WITH ME” and “FUCK THAT WAS SO DEEP”, Hanzel was pretty restrained throughout the nearly two-hour set. This absence of comedy — which is what makes Hanzel, well, Hanzel — was a touch disappointing. If you didn’t know it was DJ Hanzel upon walking in, you probably wouldn’t have known it by the end of the gig.
That said, there’s no doubt that seeing Dillon Francis up close in a packed Hudson Ballroom is a special experience. From the moment the set started right until he clocked off at 2.30am with a final “well, that was deep”, there wasn’t a person in the room standing still.
Jules LeFevre is a writer at inthemix and Music Junkee, she tweets at @jules_lefevre.