It was called “Secret Warehouse Dance Party,” which was of course a pretty tongue-in-cheeky thing to’ve called it. But it was nevertheless a pretty stealthy, or at least incidentally hidden, affair. If, a few hours after sunset, you had been strolling casually down N_______ Street, you wouldn’t have noticed a thing. Still, perhaps a sudden breath of wind might’ve lifted your hat into the carpark, and maybe it could have rolled down the alleyway, whereupon you’d have seen the huddle of charcoal silhouettes, the pinprick glows of scattered cigarettes, the quietly flailing laser-lights through the high window of the bare, geometric brick building. Perhaps you would have been curious enough to walk past the good-looking young men standing by the door in caps, curious enough to pry open that door with one hand and peer inside, and see more silhouettes seated on crates and on the floor. Perhaps you would have joined them.
If you’d done this, you’d have found yourself listening to the warm melodious atmospheres of a local musician named STINA. Stina, pumping an old wooden harmonium that aspirated sweet, cloudy chords and weaving pacific melodies on a synthesiser, would entrance you fully. Digital drum machines would patter and pulse organically through the gently lo-fi haze of a bass amp. It might have been one of the loveliest things you’d heard in forever.
After that you might linger outside and sip a beer with the growing crowd, or you might stay inside and listen as BILL DARBY splashed into a set of complex and deeply listenable tunes. Here is dexterous, skewed pop carried by Darby’s vocal melodies and unconventional but impressive guitar playing; buoyed and anchored by sturdy live drums and laptop layers, a pleasure to behold.
And as Roland the Realest returns to the DJ podium to share a set of powerful grooves, the floodgates open and the people flow in. The lasers spin and whirl across walls with what seems to be a newfound intensity, the drinks flow and the room undulates with feet, elbows, knees and heads warping to the beat. As the wave seems to be cresting, a band from Melbourne called HOLY LOTUS begins to play.
Holy Lotus are Greg, Leonie and Lucy; Greg used to play around Perth as/with The Ghost of 29 Megacycles and with Pacific By Rail; Leonie used to play a lot in Perth too, as Li’l Leonie Lionheart. None of those reference points would really help you predict what Holy Lotus end up sounding like: energised, spritely indie rock evoking your favourite post-punk moods; persistent hi-hats, thick fuzzy bass, thin, echoing keyboards and the dulcet attack of Leonie’s crystal vocals, occasionally joined by Lucy’s too. If you’d stayed to watch, and craned your head over the surging mob, you’d have seen the beautifully ad-hoc setup: scattered amps, microphones propped up not by mic stands but by easels and revolving book racks. You’d have seen the silhouette of Greg thrumming his bass amid a cloud of laser-flecked smoke machine miasma. Mostly, overall, you’d have danced and cheered throughout their mellifluous and invigorating set.
And if you’d ducked into the alleyway again you might’ve seen the police arrive and gaze on at the festivities, only to leave minutes later, imposing nothing save their brief presence. You might’ve sat in the expansive carpark cracking yarns, or you might’ve stayed and boogied to Roland’s A-grade selections, which soon make way for the juicy glitch electronics of Chrism + Fenris. C+F make hard-hitting experimental jams, informed by chiptune, techno, house and industrial sounds. Striking up a delicate balance between heavy weirdness and danceability (and with Leonie joining them on drums for one tune), the party spirit endures and continues to grow.
If you’d waited in the long queue for the bathroom and returned, you might have found yourself surprised to now be dancing alongside renowned Australian artist Richard Bell, to the strains of unexpected, unbilled performer Tomas Ford who is blasting his trademark electro trash and prowling around in an American flag tails coat. And if after that you were still on the dancefloor, you’d have found yourself awash in golden hits new and old – from Blue (the room erupts: “eyyy, must be the money!”) to Snoop Dogg and Disclosure and far beyond. And if you’d left about then, you’d have done so reluctantly, bidding farewell to good friends old and brand new; slipping under the yellow-lit roof of a Swan Taxi not so long before dawn, and wishing that tonight’s magical intersection of extreme talent, zealous energy and wholesome vibes would never ever end.