TF Archives

Hardware 14

Author: Lindy Tan
Sunday, January 1, 1995

Facilities/Attractions: Jeff Mills. Enough said.

The Score: About 4000 About 4000 people packed into Shed 14 last Saturday, a mixture of old and new faces (mainly new) to witness the wizardry of Mr Mills. Old or new, who cares - but it was certainly one of the friendliest and most energetic crowds I have had the pleasure of encountering for a while.

Will E Tell's set was just as I expected. Jesus Christ, the loyalty this guy receives from his young fans is bloody remarkable; this guy has to be the DJ with the biggest following in Australia. When I was young I used to belong to the Barbie fan club. Now kids belong to the Will E fan club and I swear it would make ten times as much as my old Barbie club ever did. In predictable Will E fashion, he opened at 2am with Danny Tenaglia's "The Club," and as that deep boom of a voice spoke "Welcome to the club. I'm your DJ ..." young punters all around me whooped and hollered, jumped up and down, and swarmed like rabid dogs around the DJ booth. Topless muscle-bound men yelled "Give us something hard!" and pumped their sweaty arms up and down (eeecchh). I pushed my way past the steroid club and watched as Will E's ever-thinning butt shook as he whacked those turntables into smithereens. If you like hard music, Will E Tell gives you what you want and what you expect.

Even outside, the banging of Will E's set was inescapable. In the outside tent, the Natural One was mixing up a treat of new German trance with oldies like The Jungle Brother's "I'll House You" and FSOL's "Papua New Guinea." Because the walls of Shed 14 were so thin, the roaring blasts of Will E's set could still be heard amongst the sweet ambient strains of New Guinea as it echoed into the cloudy night sky. The result: bemused ravers outside exchanging glances and mouthing, "What the fuck-"

As it neared 3am Shed 14 was positively bursting at the seams in anticipation of Jeff Mills. Bedroom DJs flocked to the front, ready to take notes. People crowded the podium's on either side of the DJ booth. Prior to Mills' appearance, photographers were briefed explicitly on where they could and couldn't stand (apparently Mills likes to be in his own little "zone" when he plays, preferring to have a fair share of empty space around him). At 3am, Mills himself emerged. Clad in a dark blue shirt tucked into beige chino pants with a belt fastening his middle, Mills looked more like my Year 9 science teacher than a DJ. He is a man of few words; he prefers to let his music speak for itself, as it certainly did that night. Mills effortlessly created a surreal atmosphere that I can only describe as circus-like, purveying raw relentless driving sounds with an undercurrent of crafty funk, varying the bpms, varying his sounds, constantly surprising and inspiring with a mixture of new stuff from his DJ-friendly Purpose Maker label to stuff from his Axis imprint, even throwing in snippets of classics like "Automatic" and "Step to Enchantment." The crowd reaction was astounding. Mills' nimble hands flicked robot-like across the three decks to the Roland-909 at his right-hand side. The fastest DJ in the world used no formulaic build-ups, just the cream of tracks mixed in and out with precision-speed, the most moving and powerful of sounds flying impromptu from his fingers. With a wash of ambience, Mills finally gave all of us a rest to catch our breath - only to cut in with the hard-hitting gloriousness of the piano intro to "Untitled." The crowd roared, the whole place exploded. Some flapped their arms up and down - "we are not worthy!" One photographer lost his balance and accidentally knocked the rigging, receiving a brief disapproving glance from Mills himself. Oops!

After two mind-blowing hours, Jeff Mills had to depart for a flight home, cutting his set short much to everyone's dismay. After that the party still rocked on nicely