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Winter Warehouse Music Festival @ AIS Arena, Canberra (31/05/08)

There’s something about gigs put on by the Friction Lexington Music crew – it seems that all things they touch turn to gold, and the Winter Warehouse Festival was no different. It’s becoming increasingly evident that we as a town know how to party, and finally Canberra has been blessed with the festivals that in the past we’ve always had to travel for. It is worth noting that a large amount of that credit goes to the Lexington crew who have followed up Foreshore with another kickarse event. For a first time gig, Warehouse went off seemingly without a hitch, with the perfect choice of venue for the event and a chilled and rockin’ crowd to boot.

From conversations with many people on the day, it was clear that the vibe was indeed a very positive one and people wouldn’t think twice about going again next year. At one point I remember looking down at this hectically massive crowd and thinking wow – almost every cubic metre was covered by people all throwing their hands up in unison. It is a poignant memory that will stay in my mind for a long time, and my heart swells with pride for my fellow Canberrans when I think about it. To go through every single act in one article doesn’t do it justice but I’ll allude to the highlights as best as I can.

For an old kook like me (and the only bad thing about this gig was that I felt really old, when really I’m not), it was a highly nostalgic experience because it was like a flashback to raving in the late 90s and early naughties. I was only a pup back then as well but the rave scene was alive and kicking, and I lucky enough to attend a few of these, and they were possibly some of the best gigs I remember going to. The vibe is second to none; it is simply all about the love for the music and people. The only difference between Warehouse to a 90s rave was the startling abundance of that retina burning material we like to call fluro.

Set across three stages, the line up was exceptional for a start- from some of Canberra’s best local talent, such as up and comers the Aston Shuffle, as well as Michael O’Rourke, Ashley Feraude and Chris Fraser, through to house bigwigs Utah Saints, Kid Kenobi and Mixmaster Mike from the Beastie Boys. The Arena was the main stage, with these huge spacelike orbs hanging from the ceiling and a combination of dope lighting and effects, and then there was the Club, which was much smaller but far more intimate, and The Terrace, which were both also a good space to chill out. The Terrace’s decks were set up in the back of a Dodge- sheer class right there!

Utah Saints brought back a refreshing taste of the 90s, playing everything in triple time at one stage. Bonde De Role supplied us with their Brazilian flavour, notably with their crowd pleasing track Marina Gasolina. Scottie Fischer tore up the decks with a unique and upbeat performance and The Potbelleez smashed their set to pieces. Game Boy/Game Girl also provided an eccentric feel which deviated nicely from streamline house. Then there was Kid Kenobi, who I have been in love with for years (both musically and as a potential wife haha), performing with MC Shureshock whose energy was simply contagious and fuelled the fire on the dance floor. There were only two cringe worthy moments, one when Kid called for security for one reason or another (there is always one idiot), and secondly when he gave shout outs to Sydney. Oops. But we can forgive him for this for rocking out with pure and utter flair.

Mixmaster Mike followed after Kid Kenobi’s set and his turntablist talents were indeed commendable. Age and experience in the industry have served him well, and he remixed everything from Beastie Boys to Blur with a really positive response from the crowd. Next up I checked out Ajax, Australia’s #1 DJ for good reason – the vibe filtrating through the smaller stage area was fantastic during the set and there was not one person who wasn’t having a boogie, and as a festival goer, this is the stuff you really love to see. Finally, I caught half of Escha and most of Hybrid, who were wrapping up the evening. You’d think that after 7-8 hours of solid dancing and partying that everyone would be winding down, but both Hybrid and Escha guaranteed that wasn’t going to happen. They capped off the night in true style, and it almost made up for the fact that Cassius couldn’t make it. If I’m being completely honest, tears almost sprang when I heard that, so that’s a pretty solid indication of the standard of all performances on the day.

Props must go to all involved, festival goers, organisers and artists alike, but hats off particularly to Lexington Music – you are what Canberra has been waiting for. I and many others dutifully await Warehouse 2009, and the many festivals that your masterfully capable hands will produce. Top shelf lads, and congratulations to all involved for pulling off such a spectacle.