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The Greenwood Hotel in North a Sydney is one of my favourite venues anywhere in the world: a deconsecrated church and courtyard slap bang in the middle of the commercial hub with no local residents to complain about the noise. With the surrounding office towers providing a great backdrop and creating perfect acoustics, all that is needed is sunshine – and Sydney’s pretty good at that. It’s unlike anywhere else in the world I know – a unique venue that should be used a lot more for trance events. Of course, people who’ve been around a long time will tell you about the awesome Sounds On Sunday events that took place at the Greenwood. I went to a few of the last of these and they were all great days.

In addition to the main stage in the courtyard, inside there are three rooms for dancing. This provided ample room for pretty much all of Sydney’s local trance and progressive DJs to play, as well as the six international names on the bill.

Ben Nicky is building himself a reputation as a 140 BPM DJ with his “Headfuck” branded remixes. But today he was the first of the internationals, starting at 3pm. Why this should be seemed something of a mystery but probably had a lot to do with DJ politics. Personally, I think he should have closed the chapel rather than warmed up in the courtyard. Whatever the reasons, I think it’s all wrong that these considerations should come before putting on the best possible event.

As it was, I did enjoy the set, although naturally it was heavily influenced by the time of day and I don’t think he got above 135. Tunes such as Ummet Ozcan – The Box, Simon Patterson feat. Lucy Pullin – The One, Markus Schulz feat. Fiora – Deep In The Night, Ferry Corsten – Punk, Mark Eteson feat. Audrey Gallagher – Breathe On My Own, PPK – Resurrection, DJ Tiësto – Lethal Industry, Motorcycle – As The Rush Comes and Gareth Emery – Exposure were mixed, mashed and headfucked alongside some much more commercial tunes like Armin van Buuren – This Is What It Feels Like, Porter Robinson – Language and Zedd – Clarity. There were some great moments and although I wasn’t into the more commercial tracks he played, it was pretty much spot on for the time of day.

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Ben Nicky gave way to Chris Schweizer and some electro/EDM beats soon filled the air. The courtyard was filling up nicely but I felt it was time to explore what the other rooms had to offer. All too briefly, we caught the end of DJ Ange’s set in the Back Room before, in the Side Bar, we found Dejan playing back to back with Tonto. It was still early in the day, but these two had no issues with banging out the classics: DJ Tiësto – Flight 643, Veracocha – Carte Blanche, The Thrillseekers – Synaethesia, Gouryella – Gouryella and even mashing up DJ Shah – Who Will Find Me? with John O’Callaghan – Stresstest.

The only negative about this set was that the sound in this room was very poor, with the bass often distorting and reverberating. Speaking with the DJs afterwards, I gather there were no monitors in the booth, making mixing much more challenging for them – but I certainly wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t been told. After Dejan and Tonto, it was the turn of Big J and Zac Slade. They kept up the tempo and style perfectly even though they, too, were struggling with the problems described above.

With daylight saving having started that very day, it was still quite light well after 7pm and we ventured back outside to catch the end of Tenishia’s set, which seemed very commercial, including Dash Berlin – Waiting, Dash Berlin – Man On The Run and Armin van Buuren – This Is What It Feels Like. The crowd were certainly enjoying it, even if I find these tunes rather overplayed. As dusk was falling, the production was beginning to come into its own, with lights and lasers playing through the smoke. We had to move from the front because the smoke was flavoured with a pungent, sweet aroma, that I could only take so much of – but from a distance it helped create a great vibe with the lasers, lights and great sound system (although the sound was muddy near to the bars, it was fine once you moved closer to the stage).

Mark Sixma was the next international DJ and he played a style that I would describe as being somewhere between Anjunabeats and Coldharbour. Markus Schulz and Ferry Corsten – Loops N Tings, Push – Universal Nation, DJ Tiësto – Lethal Industry, Fisherman & Hawkins – Apache … great tunes that I really enjoyed hearing as the skies darkened. I was less wowed by tunes such as Above & Beyond – Sun & Moon, Dash Berlin – Man On The Run (one of several tunes we heard more than once!) and Above & Beyond – Thing Called Love. I imagine that extremely commercial tunes like these are needed to keep the bigger crowds at events like this involved with music that they are familiar with and its only the more seasoned regular trance aficionados who tire of hearing these tracks repeatedly. Overall I felt that Mark Sixma set the stage nicely for Andy Moor.

Andy Moor has been making great music for many years and we’ve seen him DJ at various nights and festivals over the last few years. The night that stands out for me was in Melbourne in November 2011, when he played a wonderful set that I’d mark down as one of the best from any DJ. Of course this sets a high standard that it’s not really fair to expect him to reach every time and there are always other factors that make events stand out in your memory, not all of them under the DJ’s control. But I’m a big fan of his artist album from last year – Zero Point One and hoped that he’d play a good selection of tunes from it. The courtyard was now set against a darkened sky and the great day-time sunshine-drenched setting had metamorphosed into a dramatic night-time stage in the cavernous gap between North Sydney’s office skyscrapers.

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Andy Moor’s set was a little slow to grab me but by the time he dropped Rank 1 – Airwave, Tiësto – Love Comes Again, Robert Miles – Children and John O’Callaghan – Big Sky, I was really enjoying everything about the event – the music, the venue, the production, the friends I was with. He also dropped some newer tunes like Ben Gold – Fall With Me and Omnia – The Light, but my heart sank when he played Armin van Buuren – This Is What It Feels Like (the third time I’d heard it in the day and for all I know, I may have missed it being played more than that!). And he seemed to take things down a notch in the last half hour of his set and I began to look at my watch, waiting for the final act on the main stage to commence.

That final act was Alex M.O.R.P.H., the large, bearded German DJ who always wears a trucker-style cap. We’ve seen him play quite a few times here in Sydney as well as in Europe, but the only time he’d really made an impression on me was most recently – at the Luminosity Beach Festival in Amsterdam. He started, as is the norm for him (Luminosity being the exception to prove the rule) with the Imperial March from Star Wars. I think he’s worked this to death and on this occasion it didn’t lead quickly into the kind of uptempo closing set I was expecting. In fact after 20 to 25 minutes he still seemed to be working the intro to his set and as the night was nearing a finish, I was looking for something a little faster-paced.

So we wandered into the Chapel where Krish Titan and Big J were playing back to back. They soon left the stage to VLN and although the music was good, the room wasn’t busy and we felt that it was time to call it a day – the offer of a lift to an after-party was too tempting to resist at this point. If Ben Nicky had been given this slot in the Chapel, I’m sure we would have stayed, the room would have been full and Alex M.O.R.P.H. would have had some competition for dancers.

This was a very good event – the organisation, the production, the line-up and the venue all being top-notch. Hopefully it is the first of many Genesis events at the Greenwood. My only criticism would be that with six international DJs and four rooms, perhaps it would have been possible to schedule the main acts across the two main stages – the Courtyard and the Chapel – thus providing more scope for the DJs to play to their strengths. So in assessing the event, I’d give it 8 or 9 out of 10 for line-up, organisation and production, 10 out of 10 for the venue, but only 7 for the music, which was great at times without ever reaching the standard of some of the recent events I’ve written about.

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