Sydney’s newest venue The Factory isn’t as Mancunian in ambience as you might expect, given the name – there are no exposed concrete pylons or pressed-metal ceilings. Wooden floors and discreet lighting soften the edges, but the space is nevertheless cavernous, and the PA is matchingly outsized. The door staff are stamping wrists with an invisible ink that only shows under UV flashlight – an early sign that, tonight, we’re gonna party like its 1995.
But first to Triosk, who early set the timbre if not the tone for the evening: their sound is bottom-heavy, almost ludicrously so, though their mood is restrained. Ben Waples anchors the centre stage, his bass casting an ominous shadow against the wall as he rolls out notes of thunderous reverberancy. Adrian Klumpes holds down long notes on his Rhodes, adding to the thickness of the atmosphere, while Lawrence Pike spatters percussion over the top. Their thrumming set goes down well with a rapidly growing crowd.
The room is packed as Amon Tobin takes over, but at first he measures out the pace, beginning his very long set with vocal samples spun and stretched to the point of abstraction. For the first forty minutes he skillfully blends a huge variety of textures and rhythms, occasionally building up to a pounding beat and then letting it drop, very effectively, into a dubby break. And then he accelerates, decisively, laying down a second half of relentless drum n’ bass that sees two-thirds of the crowd lift off with him, and the rest scurry out onto the pavement for temporary relief. The sound is so huge that it’s overwhelming; air passengers overhead are probably wriggling in their seats. After a wild, double-barrelled finale with Kid Koala that flattens everything in its path – Slayer was in the mix there, somewhere – Tobin exits and the Montreal Kid takes over.
There’s no doubting Kid Koala’s crowd-pleasing instincts. His onstage persona is akin to that scene in Big where Tom Hanks dances over the toy store’s giant keyboard: he just wants to play. Entertainment and technical wizardry cuddle up together, and it works – you’d have to be a serious kill-joy not to get some pleasure out of his sounds. Blues harmonicas become beats; cartoon characters gabble; he drops BjÃ¶rk, Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Beastie Boys and Kayne West in a procession of greatest hits. His dexterous, three-turntable technique is shown off to full effect during “my mom’s favourite song”, ‘Moon River’, where the vocals stretch and reverse, stop and slide: it’s weightless and beautiful. A similar thing happens when he encores, ending the night on an ambiguous, melancholy note: what he spins recalls the Cocteau Twins, though it’s probably not, but either way it’s like cotton sugar in its airy, elastic texture.