Arcadia casts its web on Elizabeth Quay

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It’s not everyday that a truly unique event finds its way to little old Perth. The Arcadia Spider landed for the hot November weekend to perform three nights of theatrical, industrial, dance music madness. It is the first time the Spider has made its way down under and the ‘stage’ was set in a big way for a one of a kind original experience. Complete with cranes, claws, flame throwers, LCD screens and the coolest DJ booth I’ve ever seen suspended under the center of the giant mechanical spider, it was clear that this was a live event like no other.

I got to Elizabeth Quay in time to catch Luude dropping a heinous dubstep remix of “Californication” by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers which was honestly pretty bad but also kind of funny, this kind of obscene, not too serious style being a big part of his show. You can expect the dirtiest riddim and filthiest bass akin to the styles of Getter, Skrillex, Snails and the general LA bass scene ubiquitous with the OWSLA label. His playful DJ’ing was a good bit of fun, like when he announced that he had one more song to drop, which then happened to be none other than “Teenage Dirtbag” by Wheatus which gave everyone the gift a good little chuckle and a nostalgic boogie.

Next in the in belly of the beast was Zeke Beats, a pillar of the Perth bass-music scene and fresh off of more than noteworthy collaborations with international bass heads EPROM and Alix Perez. His sound is a visceral experience and his performance tight and technical. His elite level of sound design makes for a unique listening experience and whilst not as readily danceable as the other acts on offer it was suitably industrial and experimental for music pulsing out of a mechanical spider. Zeke combines his theatrical and almost cinematic sound design with some great turntablism for a bass set that is a cut above the rest. Hearing his super distorted bass was a whole body experience; it was great to hear the Perth local continuing to push his sound forward. 

As the sun finally gave out the Arcadia crew came into action and the spider experience had truly began. The opening ceremony saw traditional Wadjuk Nyoongar people leading the crowd in an ancient dance “Yallor Keeninyarra” which asks of the spider spirit to weave us together in strength and unity. It really was a moving moment as everyone joined in the song and dance and gave thanks to the original landowners and their beliefs that had brought us together on the night. Reaching a climax of tribal EDM the rope barriers under the spider were lowered and the crowd rushed into the center under the beast as it let out a colossal fireball into the sky.

Another local and newcomer Elk road took to the booth next and opened with his super hot single release “Hanging by a Thread” with its tropical mid tempo vibes that brought a different energy to the dance floor and a bit of respite from the wubs. After his huge like a version mash-up of Tame Impala and Flight Facilities I was interested to see how he would handle himself on a big live stage. He delivered a set fueled by deep house bangers from names such as Drezo, Malaa and Golden Features which was unexpected but completely approved by myself. It was a bit odd having his sound sandwiched between drum and bass sets, but the crowd loved the energy and the groove was good. He closed out his set with some uplifting future bass bangers as well as an awesome mash up of “Black Skinhead” by Kanye West and “Elephant” by Tame Impala.

The “Lords of Lightning” took to their battle podiums to serve as an interlude from the main spider stage; the stunning electricity battle sent the whole crowd swarming over to the side where they had set up. A high-energy drum and bass mix set the stage for the choreographed stunt show, which was a lot of fun. Once the final touches and preparations had been made it was back to the spider itself for the “Arcadia Landing Show” where the machine came to life and “scanned for life forms” before deploying its spiderlings tumbling and swinging from its arms. Crew members in the crowd were “abducted” to the shock and amazement of everyone. The machine’s assessment of humanity changed tune upon learning from its abductees and realized the true spirit of humanity, before throwing us into a manic tribal rave of freedom. It was a one of a kind experience and it really felt like a full realization of dance music and everything it entails.

Back to the decks it was time for the sounds of two Aussie lads from the east coast known together as Carmada. Their huge sounds took the party to the next level as they spun tune after tune of dubby trappy madness. Complete with their selection of 90s hip-hop, an edit of their banger “Maybe” from their debut EP it was everything you would ever want from a main stage performance out of Carmada. Their influence seemed to stem from the LA bass sound of gritty and wonky riddim however they previewed a bunch of unreleased tracks which had a much more balanced sound combining brighter synth lines and vocal hooks to complement the heavier bass.

Last but certainly not least Alison Wonderland closed out the night with her signature big room trap sound, Using producers such as KNRE, Boombox Cartel and QUIX to put craters in the ground as we all worshipped 808 gods. She counterpointed the heavy bass and horns with brighter future bass songs such as a remix of “Feel it – by GTA & What So Not,” as well as her songs “I want U” and “U don’t Know” with their respective flips by GANZ and Vincent. It was big trap sound going hard and she delivered.

Arcadia was a one of a kind experience and I don’t think that any words, photos or video could ever do it justice. From start to finish it was a smoothly executed event, the audience’s attention being led from one attraction to another. Hype was effectively built throughout the night as the stage, often manned high above the crowd by an 8 person crew, came to life. In displaying the incredible Aussie talent behind the decks, the exhibition provided a great chance for the mainstream to glance into the weird and wonderful world of EDM.