Things always seem sweeter when they don’t come easy. The Kalahari Ferrari had no intention of making our journey an easy one. Ten minutes down the road we found ourselves at a standstill, our faithful steed stubbornly refusing to leave the refuge of the emergency stopping lane. Minutes quickly turned hours but finally, our roadside Macgyvering paid off and just as the sun began to set we headed through gate 5 of the Melbourne showgrounds towards the show we left at 2pm to attend.
Returning for its third year, PURE, presented and curated by Carl Cox, Eric Powell (Bush Records) and Richie McNiell of Hardware promised to be a stand out on the year’s Techno calendar. Walking through the main entrance of the grand pavilion, countless arrays of green and red lasers dissected the darkness above the heads of the crowd that disappeared into the distance.
The huge stage, reaching almost from one side of the pavilion to the other & constructed of giant rectangular LED screens that glowed with the Pure logo. As we walk through the smoke, toward the stage, the press of the crowd soon stopped us in our tracks.
Joseoh Capriarti, who to my delight was playing Cave – Street Carnival as we approached the pavilion had begun easing it back a little. There was only 15 minutes till the big man himself was due to appear. From our current vantage point, just in front of the sound & light desk, Capriarti was invisible. The dj box, wedged between two beautifully projection mapped tetris bricks, was shrouded in darkness. The decision to move to a better vantage point before Carl began was agreed on but not before the bar for a refreshment. Ive heard its important to stay hydrated at these kinds of things.
The first of many pleasant surprises during the evening was the surprisingly affordable prices of the drinks. $9 for a Mountain Goat can seemed quite reasonable. By the time Id managed to separate the card from its compatriots in my wallet, the bartender was waiting to lip read my order. Easily the quickest bar service I’ve ever had at an event of this size.
Ice cold drink in hand we head to find ourselves a better view of the stage. Sneaking down the left-hand side we make it a lot closer to the stage just in time for Capriartis last tune. Retreating into the darkness the decks stand empty for what seems like an eternity. Nervous energy builds as engineers scurry back and forth checking the equipment.
Out of nowhere, the man appears. In true Carl Cox fashion, he greets the crowd over the microphone and drops his first tune, a classic piano house stomper. The vibe quickly gets more tech, luminous green letters 10 meters high spell out his name but even with eyes closed there is no doubt who is behind the decks.
A young crowd, half of which werent even born when Carl dropped his first tune lap up tune after tune like mothers milk. A dancefloor casualty oozes past and we decide to explore the rest of the venue. A short stroll past the bar and we stumble across the other stage. A welcome respite, the fresh air and surprisingly warm sound from the system draw us in. Leeboy & Handsdown are smashing it out to a decent size crowd considering the big man is on the inside. Cracker after cracker from these two make it difficult to leave but Carl beckons. Green tunnels of laser light greet us as we walk through the front once again. The sound is big but lacking something in the bottom end. This happens sometimes with big rooms so we scout out a sweet spot and settle in. 45 minutes in and things are beginning to get serious. I forget about taking notes for a while and allow myself to get lost in the music.
With an empty can in hand and a few beads gathering on my forehead, we head for the bar and the cool respite of the stage outside. Melbourne mainstay and all round nice guy, Matt Radovich is pulling people away from the main arena with rock solid house. ”I know your number one” repeats the sample and the building crowd agrees. A breaks driven houser grooves things up a little for the still building crowd. Oh breaks how I miss you but I digress. I really can’t speak highly enough of Matts set or him in general, he really deserves every accolade he receives.
Heading back inside, Carl is pushing a big room techno sound to a sold out crowd, leaving another generation in awe of a true pioneer of electronic music. His last tune is somewhat reminiscent of the Carl I saw back in 97. Tough as fuck with a dash of acid. My smile wont quit and he exits the stage to cheers and a sea of hands raised high.
I had never seen Marco Carola play before but in my opinion was the perfect way to round out the evening. Ive always been a fan of the harder side of electronica and Marco delivered the kind of sounds I had been expecting from the start. Driving big room tech stompers. Banger after banger. As we left the main arena for the last time I mentally pencilled PURE into my calendar for next year. My only concern, will the Kalahari Ferrari get us home?