Nocturnal is by all accounts, is a stroke of pure genius on the part of Melbourne Museum. There is nothing more than this millennial and many others love than a cool and unique venue for live music, and it doesn’t get much better than sharing a building with the odd Pterodactyl, indigenous art from the oldest culture on earth and of course, a national treasure in Phar Lap. In the age where music lovers turn away from spending money on recorded music acquisition in favour of music experiences, it is no wonder that punters jumped at the chance to see Melbourne’s favourite party conductors, Wax’o Paradiso in the spectacular foyer of the museum.
If it wasn’t enough for audiences to get the privilege of a nighttime jaunt around the eerie Melbourne Museum after hours, Nocturnal since its inception less than a year ago has moved from strength to strength with a series of varied yet strong booking choices. However, this in my humble opinion is their best yet. After a taste for a dinosaur dance party with Total Giovanni in February, another round featuring Wax’o Paradiso, Harvey Sutherland and DJ JNETT was too good an opportunity to miss. A group of mates, as well as a large proportion of inner suburban music fans, seemed to relish in the possibility of dancing in an open space despite the feeling of impending winter outside.
Harvey Sutherland, Melbourne’s own prince of good times started the party early with his usual eclectic selection of upbeat house, nu-disco and classic disco tracks. Harvey, backed by visuals from vintage disco music videos, as per usual, fails to disappoint even in his solo DJ set capacity. By the time he finished at the civilised time of 9 pm, the crowd was heaving with people, many taking advantage of the bottles of bubbles available at the bar.
The benefit of a lineup of DJs at this iteration of Nocturnal, is the feeling flexibility to check out the other myriad of experiences that the event has to offer. Most areas of the museum are open for exploration, as a Nocturnal veteran at this point, my companion and I made sure to go and check on our favourite dinosaurs as well as a wunderkammer of gemstones, shimmering insects and tank of ghost crabs that are on display in the Science and Life section. Another favourite is the 3D immersive video room which gives you a history of the Earth’s geology. Even after my third time at Nocturnal, there is still a thrill in being able to drink while perusing the exhibits. Losing my friend, he texts “brb getting my nails done,” assuming this to be a joke, I was impressed and slightly jealous when he returned with a left hand done up with nail polish, just another surprise that this event had in store.
The drum swells and rising beats entice us back to the dancefloor as Wax‘o Paradiso jumps on the decks, causing us to miss the array of interactive exhibit activities and talks with various museum staff that were going on. The dynamic DJ collective combines disco, krautrock, house and Australian soundscapes for internationally inspired sets with an undeniably local flavour. The vast atrium of the museum seems like the perfect location for this atmospheric dance party, especially with the tree shadows of the Forest Gallery in the background. Andy Hart, Simon TK and Edd Fisher dart in and out of mixing tracks like a highly trained team, keeping the set varied and upbeat with crowd favourites such as Dan Hartman “Relight My Fire”, with hands in the hits such as Candi Staton “When You Wake Up Tomorrow.” The most impressive aspect of a Wax’o set are their incredible ear for tunes and impressive crate digging efforts. For an amateur disco fan, it’s perfect as you always walk away with a great new track to add to rotation and this time it was “Ain’t It Time” by Incognito.
Much to the surprise of some attendees of the event, the closing act of the dance party was the unassuming DJ JNETT. An institution of the Melbourne dance scene, famous for her inventive DJ sets and popular PBS program Are You Ready?, at this gig, she receives the headline status that’s she clearly deserves. Even Simon TK said side stage that he was excited to see the “best DJ in Melbourne” even though they often playing alongside each other at Wax’o Paradiso events. Their close musical relationship is evident as she takes to the stage and seamlessly mixes into Edd Fisher’s last dancefloor warmer.
DJ JNETT’s set swings effortlessly between the canon of dance music genres, showing her penchant for classic soul and disco as well as moodier deep house. The audience are treated to a later finish time than at past Nocturnal events, which gives the set plenty of room to breathe. Samples from tracks like ‘Move On Up’ (Curtis Mayfield) and ‘Time To Move On’ (Carmen), continue the vibe from Wax’o Paradiso set which keeps the crowd smiling and dancing. But in that same way their sunny set seemed to inhabit the setting well, the resonating high tempo house tracks with altered vocal lines which JNETT spins seem just as at home, with tracks like ‘Soldier (The Sunday Church Mix)’ by Aaron Carl appealing to the serious club goers. Attendees of Golden Plains Festival two weeks before were clearly present as the festival’s tradition of holding your shoe in the air during a good song was well practised throughout the set.
It was difficult to choose a highlight amongst such a masterful and varied performance but personally, anyone who is able to sneakily get serious electronic dance fans grooving to Destiny’s Child is a hero to me. Thanks for reminding me how good ‘Bills, Bills, Bills’ is, an anthem to female self-determination could not have been a better track for the incredible DJ JNETT, a world-class DJ who just so happens to be female.