Henry Johnstone, Sydney - Australia - on 5/4/12
We continue our Clubbing In Australia series, this time round stopping off in The Sunshine State's capital: Brisbane. Party promoters and DJs Rikki Newton and Adam Swain give us the lowdown on their famous Subtrakt events as well as filling us in on the state of Brisbane clubbing, whilst journalist and former Brisbanite Kris Swales shares his thoughts on the scene. We also put a spotlight on up and coming house and disco producer Luke Foskey. Combine all that with a special guide to some of Brisbane's best restaurants, bars and clubs, and you have all the info you'll need for a weekend of clubbing debauhery in the valley.
Rikki Newton & Adam Swain of Subtrakt Events
How and when did you start promoting parties in Brisbane? Myself and another mate, Jamie Smith, began running parties back in October 2007. Initially it was all about showcasing the local talent but within 6 months we had booked our first international guest, Will Saul, label owner of Simple Records and Aus Music. I now run Subtrakt with good mate, Adam Swain, who has been on board now for over 3 years. So we're now in our 5th year and still going strong continuing to bring the best in underground house and techno to Brisbane.
Name some of your favourite past events that you’ve done and why? Our favourite event, and I think everyone that was there would agree, would have to be the Dixon boat party we did in Feb 2011. Perfect summers day on the Brisbane river with a fancy dress theme to which most people joined in on and Dixon showed us why he's been voted in RA's top 10 djs over the past 5 years. The guy is a master!
Others would have to be our 2nd b'day with Steve Bug, 3rd b'day with Lee Burridge and most recently Prosumer. Bug and Burridge were probably our best attended events and the two of them never dissapoint, true professionals. Prosumer on the weekend was a day party in Barsoma's courtyard. Great vibe and great people listening to a cracking set by Prosumer who played mostly all vinyl and just had a everyone moving from start to finish!
What have you got coming up? Stacey Pullen next weekend, Sat 7th April and then Kevin Griffiths (Tsuba Records) on Sat 28th April. We'll be doing two parties with Kev, a boat party during the day and then a club show at Barsoma afterwards. We’re then taking a 3 month break as myself and Adam are heading o/s for the European summer.
What is the predominant or most popular genre in the city? Are there a few different genre scenes in the city? Although I'd hate to say it, I think the Dubstep craze that's going on right now is a favourite of the kids and that's what you'll tend to here playing at the bigger clubs in town. That and main room electro house. But we also have alot of different crews pushing a range of underground sounds such as the White Rhino crew run by Simon Bird and Richard Buck who do everything from Techno to electronica to bass music to the more analogue house sounds. You have Kana that do their ever growing outdoor techno parties, Auditree who focus more on the house and techno sounds like us. You have Happy Endings that host a wide variety of acts but also push the indie/disco sounds when it comes to club events. There's also drum n bass parties going on from time to time and the pretty popular Addicts and Breaks n Enter parties that focus on breaks and dubstep. So as you can see there's plenty of variety in Brisbane.
What’s the best thing about clubbing in Brisbane? Because we have a relatively small scene in Brisbane you tend to see the same faces at most of the underground events. You find most of the promoters support each other’s events so it's a pretty tight knit clubbing community we have which makes it all that more enjoyable when you are attending an event because you’re partying with all your mates.
Worst thing? I guess the worst thing would have to be the size of the scene up here. Although it is healthy it is relatively small so it is hit and miss sometimes with the turn outs but when you do happen to have a cracking night it just makes you appreciate it even more. Another negative is the ridulous licensing laws we have up here, especially the 3am lockout. It's not unusual to finish up between 3-4am on some events because of the lack of punters left in the club which is dissapointing because you'd always like to have a heaving dancefloor at 5am, something that is quite rare in Brisbane. Obviously the bigger international guest are an excpetion to this.
What would you like to see more of in the clubbing scene in Brisbane? I'd like to see more outdoor parties because we all know we have the weather for it up here and basically just utilising more unique venues for events. There's always boat parties going on throughout the year which is great. After hours parties would be great as well although I'm not sure we have the population for it. But I guess it could work if they weren't as frequent.
Do music festivals have an impact on the club scene there? Yes, definitely. With the abundance of festivals that happen each year now I think it's definitely affected the club scene. We wouldn't dare think of putting an event on if it was the weekend of a major festival and sometimes the week before or after a major festival as it definitely affects numbers. Unless it was Dixon of course.
Best club and why? Easily Barsoma. It has a real charm about it and because it's located down a side street away from the mayhem of Fortitude Valley so you tend not to get any dickheads in the venue. The crowd is always pretty friendly. The owners have supported the underground scene from the get go and continue to do so, so when it comes to underground house and techno there really is only one venue. The club also has a great outdoor courtyard in which we've utilised many a time for day parties, usually on a Sunday. Some of my most memorable moments at Barsoma have been in their courtyard during the day.
Best local DJ and why? Would have to say Scott Walker who promotes the Auditree parties. I guess you could say he’s like the Simon Caldwell or Robbie Lowe of the Brisbane scene. Such a versatile DJ that can play anything from downtempo, to disco, to house to techno and can play anytime of the night, and is always on the money. The list of underground acts he’s supported and warmed up for is endless and he’s a regular on the festival circuit as well. He's been involved in the scene for many years now and used to run the Drop parties back in the day with good friend Magoo which were always fantastic parties. He's very supportive of the scene and is without a doubt the nicest guy you'll find in the scene as well.
Favourite things to do in Brisbane outside of clubbing? Rikki: Over the past 2-3 years we've noticed quite a few new bars, laneway cafes and quality restaurants opening up in the city. All of which are where I like to spend my spare time. We also have any amazing art gallery, GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art), that I highly recommend to check out for anyone visiting Brisbane.
Adam: I'm known to knock back a beer or two in my spare time. Whether it be at my local bowls club or at the Bavarian beer cafe overlooking the Brisbane River in the city, you'll always find me somewhere around the city enjoying a few with mates in my spare time outside the club.
Kris Swales - Freelance Journalist
Kris Swales was a key player in the Brisbane club scene as a performer (with Silent Shadow and D-Ko), promoter and DJ throughout the first decade of the 2000s before moving to Sydney to edit (the now sadly defunct) weekly clubbing bible 3D World in April 2010. Here he shares his thoughts and experiences on Brisbane clubbing.
"Once you've been clubbing in Brisbane for a reasonable amount of time it really does become like Cheers - everybody knows your name. There's a bit of a downside to that I guess, in that it can feel like history repeating after a while, but there's a real strength to it as well, like you really are part of a club in the same way a sporting team or bikies are - thankfully without the shootings! And there's a real camaraderie among the crews, not just within genres but also intermingling of the scenes - you're as likely to see a junglist on the floor at a bass night as you are to see them spinning tech house at another venue the following week.
Brissie tends to be at least three or four rungs down the pecking order for touring acts which means we often missed out while I was living there, but on the flipside of that some of my most memorable nights out were when Bris picked up the dregs of a tour schedule outside of the weekend - Lawler's Lights Out tour in 2002 was a Sunday session that turned seriously debauched once darkness set in, when I was drumming with Silent Shadow we supported Spor & Ewun on a Thursday night at the Step Inn and I'm surprised the room didn't blow up - the energy was absolutely mental.
Hernan Cattaneo's Brissie debut in '09 was also on a Sunday at Family and he declared that his favourite set anywhere in the world in Mixmag that year, and even Orbital's 2010 show was on a Monday or Tuesday night. Like anything in life it's what you make it, and I don't think crowds in Sydney or Melbourne are necessarily having a better time just because they're more spoilt for choice."
Brisbane DJ Spotlight: Luke Foskey (AKA Youth/Young Edits)
Luke Foskey is a young up and coming DJ and producer with a penchant for all things house, pop and disco.
When did you start DJing and producing and why? I started first producing at the tender age of 13. I used to obsess over early sample heavy music such as The Avalanches, DJ Shadow and Rjd2, as well as the more abstract stuff such as Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada. I soon realised I needed turntables and a record collection and by the age of 15 had my first decks. Although it took quite a while longer to properly get the beat matching thing down.
What do you love about your home town of Brisbane? It's a beautiful city and everyone for the most part are laid back and friendly and don't mind a beer or seven.
Favourite club in Brisbane? Barsoma, no question!
What's coming up for you this year that you can tell us about? I have a white label in stores now which was a bit of a surprise; four new wave and downtempo edits. Dark deep stuff. And a slew of remixes.
Brisbane needs more... People to realise they aren't 'getting old' and come support our budding deep scene. I'm looking at you 21-24 year olds.
Brisbane needs less... Cliche pop up bars with no musical offerings, but that could probably be said for a lot of Australia!
How did that collaboration with Danny Daze come about? He contacted me about a bootleg I had up on soundcloud, we shot some emails back and forth and Million was made. Much credit to him - he is pretty much a super producer!
Favourite producer at the moment? Hard one to say, very much loving David August. In the edit side of things I'm loving Psychemagik's releases.
Favourite track at the moment? Bit late to the party but loving the Eivissa edit of More I Want by Larse.
Brisbane Bar & Restaurant Guide
The Bowery - 676 Ann St, Fortitude Valley
Cloudland Bar - 641 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley
Mana Bar (Video Game Cocktail Bar) - 420 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley
Canvas - 16 Logan Road, Woolloongabba
Bravo Bar.b.que - 455 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley
Recommended Dish: Seafood Tasting Plate, Steak.
Sake Restaurant - 45 Eagle Street, Eagle Street Pier
Recommended Dish: Pork Belly Skewers
Urbane - 181 Mary Street, Brisbane
Recommended Dish: Degustation Menu & Dessert Degustation
Bamboo Basket - 189 Grey Street, Brisbane
Recommended Dish: Xiao Long Baos (Dragon Buns) & Shanghai Noodles
Brisbane Club Guide
Barsoma - 4/22 Constance Street, Fortitude Valley
There's good reason why this club is favoured not only by the people in this feature but by Brisbane clubbers in general. A stylish venue with an outdoor courtyard that boasts the best international and local talent week in week out...what's not to like?
Family Nightclub - 8 MacLachlan Street, Fortitude Valley
If superclubs are your cup of tea, then you can't go past one of the finest in the country, that plays host to more mainstream names, which of late has been Calvin Harris, Hernan Cattaneo and Tiesto.
The Hi-Fi - 125 Boundary Street, West End Brisbane
One of the city's newer venues, The Hi-Fi doubles as a live music venue and a clubbing haunt and is soon to play host to UK bass duo Mount Kimbie when they return to the country in May.
Alhambra Lounge - 12 McLachlan Street, Fortitude Valley
From the horses' mouth: "Alhambra Lounge is one of Brisbane’s premier hubs for quality music, live & electronic, each night exploring a gamut of genres with one thing in common, music with soul."
Alloneword - 188 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley
A stylish and intimate venue that boasts an outdoor bar and a music policy that covers house, disco and funk and techno. Clever name, cool club.
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