Hot off the tail of an underwhelming New Years Eve, which included an early night and a lack of the usual deathly hangover, it’s safe to say I was a little too eager for Let Them Eat Cake on New Years Day. As I waltzed through the gates of Werribee Mansion having downed the last of my UDL’s and saying a small prayer to the gods of techno, I was greeted with the familiar sense of comfort that the last two years at Let Them Eat Cake had brought me. Each year I’ve attended this glittering affair has managed to surpass the previous, so expectations were set very high.
With the forecast set to 25 degrees with a chance of some “heckers teckers”, I started my day with a frosty gin-based cocktail and some lo-fi house in the form of Berlin-based producer and DJ, Palms Trax. His familiar sound of driving distorted bass lines, heavily filtered vocal samples and dreamy 70s synthesizers were layered with the occasional “yeww” of approval from the crowd. The London born artist, although often being identified as a lo-fi producer, has firmly planted his feet in various neighbouring genres. Distinctive nuances in his work align him with elements of disco, funk, house, soul, and techno. Palm Trax was the perfect entre for the early afternoon partygoers who huddled together between the trees of The Guillotine stage to watch the artist do his thing from inside a giant disco ball. After a few step and claps and a sweaty back, I was ready for more.
I moseyed on over to The Bastille stage to watch Âme (pronounced ‘ahm’) work their magic on the crowd who had now developed an appetite for a heavier cuisine. The German-born pair who met in a record store decades ago have become synonymous with combining key elements of early Chicago/Detroit house music with experimental synthesizers and modulators that have donned their home (Berlin) the city of techno. The pair who mostly perform and DJ separately sound like the dreamy love child of their influences, Carl Craig, Juan Atkins, Robert Hood and Underground Resistance. Weaving their distinctive originals such as ‘Rej’ and ‘Den Ratta’ into a cheeky hour and a half set, there was a hell of a lot of “bass face” in the crowd as the afternoon was beginning to peak.
Fighting my way through a sea of sparkly crop tops and some hero patrons carrying trays of beer back to a rowdy group of friends, I returned to The Guillotine stage to suss out my most highly anticipated act of the day, Mall Grab. I can confidently say that the Australian born artist was the perfect amount of sweetness to cut through a day of salty techno. Highlights of his 2-hour set were originals ‘B.F.O.D.A.A.S’ and ‘I Just Wanna’, even the sweaty patron next to me (who spilt multiple beers on me) donned Mall Grab “the MVP” of the day. Sounds legit. With a tip of the hat and a cheeky grin, the 23-year-old old prodigy thanked the crowd and left us wanting so much more.
With a swift change of flavour, Melbourne’s trophy children Kllo floated onto the stage – aptly named The Palace Of Versailles – just as the sun was beginning to set. Fresh off the plane from their international tour for their debut album Backwater, the crowd acted as the proud parents of the duo’s success, as we swayed side to side in synchronicity to the elegant vocals of one Chloe Kaul. Listening to their earlier work with ‘Take Us To The Grave’ in comparison to their latest release ‘Bolide’, it’s clear to see how their clever use of intricate percussion, layered vocal harmonies and soft sweeping synthesizers have catapulted the Melbourne born duo to international acclaim. Accidentally falling into the genre of UK garage with dreamy electronic elements, the pair was the perfect thing to prep the crowd for an evening of debauchery and rowdiness at the main stage – the final showdown.
Finding a comfortable spot at The Bastille Stage (not front left, didn’t want every man and his dog looking for their mates there) I settled in for the big finale. Jackmaster b2b with Jasper James. And what an affair it was. Jackmaster who hails from Glasgow brought fire in the form of some heavy ground shaking techno, interspersed with the occasional disco house song that you know can only be found by those who live part-time in quaint hidden record stores. How did the two arguably opposing sounds blend so beautifully together? With the help, of course, of Jasper James, his Glasgowegian brother from another mother, who holds the title of youngest person to ever play Sub Club and who spent the year hopping from city to city playing with the likes of Gerd Jansen, Craig Richards, and Seth Troxler. The closing set was enough to revive even those who were in the grips of a deathly comedown. It was equal parts the spine-tingling techno I had been hoping for, and an upbeat house/disco-infused parade that perfectly summarised the immense talent that had gathered at the Werribee Mansion that day. I’ll be on high alert for the tracklist of this set to come out, there are a few too many gems to miss.