Music

Prep Yourself For Australia’s Biggest Techno Weekend With These 7 Massive Sets

Today's listening = sorted.

Days Like This Charlotte de Witte photo

If you’re passing through Sydney or Melbourne Airport this week, be on the lookout for DJs.

This weekend sees the biggest house and techno contingent in Australia since, well, this time last year. Their destination: Victoria’s marathon weekender Pitch Music & Arts Festival and the Sydney one-dayer Days Like This.

While Pitch has the giant, multi-day lineup, Days Like This shares many of its biggest stars. Those include the live acts David August, Recondite and Tourist, who’ll do their thing between the DJs — and what a cast of DJs it is, from scene titans Sven Väth, DJ Harvey and Dixon to buzzy selectors Palms Trax, Mall Grab and Avalon Emerson.

To set the stage for one heavy-duty weekend, here are seven new-ish sets from acts playing both festivals.


Mall Grab

Dance music has taken Jordon Alexander, aka Mall Grab, a long way from his hometown of Newcastle, NSW. While the DJ keeps up a superhuman tour schedule around Europe and the UK, he’s briefly back on home soil for the Pitch/Days Like This double. (We last saw him over New Year’s for a whirlwind tour.)

While he emerged as a producer with scratchy, lo-fi house, Mall Grab is flexing his techno chops in recent sets — particularly for charged-up Australian crowds. Two recent sets capture his split personality: a smoked-out mix for Jenkem Magazine, featuring Mobb Deep, Outkast and lashings of house, and the much rowdier Rinse FM session from Tokyo.


Avalon Emerson

One of the most exciting DJs on the circuit, Avalon Emerson is more in-demand than ever. Her whistle-stop trip to Australia is followed by three of techno’s dream gigs: Panorama Bar in Berlin, De School in Amsterdam and Concrete in Paris.

Such rarified bookings attest to Emerson’s talents in the booth. Combining technical smarts with an innate feel for dancefloor dynamics, her sets never follow the same script. Last August, the American in Berlin ticked off another career high with her debut Essential Mix. Building expertly through 40 tracks, it confirms her must-see status this weekend.


Daniel Avery

Daniel Avery’s sets are a favourite preoccupation of tastemakers and track ID chasers. The UK producer had a standout 2018, releasing the album Song for Alpha and touring the world with his wide-ranging DJ sets.

While he played all night long in Sydney and Melbourne last weekend, Avery’s no stranger to a condensed festival slot. He’ll likely air some of the new Song for Alpha remixes (from the likes of Four Tet, Jon Hopkins and Surgeon) alongside other distinctive techno and acid bombs.

For a signature Avery experience, dive into his recent set for New York’s Beats In Space radio show.


Charlotte de Witte

Belgian techno believer Charlotte de Witte will play deep into Saturday morning at Pitch, then fly to Sydney to close the Times Like This stage. Both slots should suit the sleek, heads-down techno that’s made her a festival draw around the world.

De Witte recorded a memorable studio mix for Resident Advisor last year, but her bracing style shines best in live recordings. This set from the eye-popping Awakenings event in Amsterdam shows what the DJ can do with a tight 90 minutes.


Four Tet

Australia has a lot of love for Kieran Hebden, and the feeling seems to be mutual. Why else would the producer casually add a midweek live show to his Sydney itinerary — with tickets just $19.80?

We’re getting Four Tet in DJ mode at this weekend’s festivities, and there’s no better primer than his 2018 Essential Mix. The two-hour set features his own gems like ‘Planet’ and ‘Lush’ alongside playful edits of Destiny’s Child and Selena Gomez, with a gripping final stretch that feels festival-ready.

Even if he doesn’t build to his remix of Bicep’s ‘Opal’, expect something similarly epic in its place.


Made In Paris

Sydney’s own Made In Paris is opening up the Days Like This stage in her hometown, which will be a whole lot sunnier than her wee hours slot at Pitch.

The DJ and producer runs the label Upon Access, while her latest productions ‘Conjure’ and ‘Warm Hearts’ appear on a new compilation from esteemed Berlin imprint Stil vor Talent.

We’re expecting to hear those tracks this weekend, while this slow-burning mix for Novelcast shows how she builds a groove.


Denis Sulta

Denis Sulta has two very different duties this weekend. At Days Like This, he’s leading in to Four Tet with an hour of power on the second stage. (Expect a tightly packed dancefloor.) Meanwhile, at Pitch, he’s following Four Tet with the final set of the whole shebang. In both settings, his party-ready sound is likely to go down a storm.

The Glaswegian producer broke out in 2015 with the evergreen house jam ‘It’s Only Real’, and he’s been on a hot streak ever since. Last year Sulta landed on the cover of Mixmag, and his ‘cover mix’ should get you appropriately riled-up. It’s a rough and tumble, sloppily mixed 51 minutes, but the tunes bump.


Jack Tregoning is a freelance writer based in New York City. He was formerly Editor of inthemix. He tweets at @JackTregoning.

Days Like This takes place in Sydney’s Victoria Park this Saturday, March 9. Pitch Music Festival runs from March 8 to 11 in Mafeking, Victoria. 

Photo via Charlotte de Witte Facebook