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Live Review: SET LIST: Five Years Of Astral People

3 November 2016 | 6:41 pm | Hannah Galvin

Sydney touring & management collective Astral People have just turned five years old, so we headed along to their party to celebrate all of their hard work!

What began as a loose idea late one evening over a delicious meal in a Surry Hills pizzeria, Tom HuggettVic Edirisinghe and Leron Danilewitz have translated this collaborative thought into an institution, catering to the vibrancy of Sydney's electronic music scene, and beyond. A playground free of judgement and encouraging of innovation, ASTRAL PEOPLE is a primal figure in the world of management and touring, and will continue to be just that, with every booking, signing, show, festival and release that will add to an already expansive archive.

Celebrating their fifth year of fruition, the Sydney crew celebrated such a milestone in a way they only know best - by throwing an Astral People party. Taking over both rooms of Oxford Art Factory on Saturday, 22nd October, guests were treated to both live and DJ sets from an array of artists who are integral to the voice that has shaped the Astral People heritage.

Flooding the main stage with pools of colour splashed out from all different corners and angles, allowing focus on the refined yet luminous 'ASTRAL PEOPLE' light-box, as well as crafting what could only be described as a caged up boxing ring, beneath the blanket of vinyl in Gallery Bar (for Preacha & Cliques to literally go back to back on), the entire set-up of the venue allowed an additional sensory element. A predominantly electronic lineup, this use of artificial lighting and ambiguous staging mirrored the artistry of each respective musician creatively, and catered to each performance through an interchangeable lens.

Sydney lady, Rainbow Chan has been an Astral People family member for many years now. Juggling both her self-named project and Chunyin, the artist managed to marry the two very different characters during her set at the birthday.

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Hosting innovation through the merge, she came out with an incredibly cohesive set; whether she was singing songs of ideal boyfriend material with stage mate, Alex Ward (aka Moon Holiday), or simply jamming to some lush sample loops that rode through intensive themes with a myriad of emotive reflection to ensue.

Squeezing into the adjoining room, Gallery Bar's narrow enclosure was bursting with bodies moving and flowing to a master live mix, selected and stitched together by Andy Garvey. A vital piece of the Sydney local music scene's puzzle, the lady had beats and rhythms pouring out of the huge sound system. At times, it was super funky and tribal, where other sections concentrated on a more techno approach. Overall, the vibes were high, and maintained a jovial energy for the duration of her set.

After a swap around of playing times in the main room, Melbourne rapper, Baro, graced the stage, and was followed on by a keyboardist, bassist, drummer and guitarist for the very first time in Sydney. Did this seem so during their performance? Absolutely not.

Incredibly tight, the five members formed a combination of sound to create one incredibly cohesive and articulate body. Super engaging with the audience, they provided a plethora of different vibes, which at times felt jazzy and soulful, as well as even kind of rocky after Baro voiced, "We don't usually do this... Can I get some distortion in my mic?"

Performing songs of familiarity against insight into some new material, Baro and his live band were such a valuable and memorable asset to Astral People's fifth.

When you close your eyes and only focus on listening to a live Polographia show, it's hard to believe there's only two members making all of that sound. Comprised of Moktar Sharouny on guitar & synths, and Daniel Finn at the kit, Polographia establish a league of their own, and are a really interesting unit to watch perform.

Where an atmosphere was prematurely created visually through a stage heavily immersed in blue lighting shining through clouds of smoke, the hazy wonderland was soundtracked by elongated guitar bars and drum sequences over accompanying samples and loops. Where they of course played singles and other EP material (that saw collaborator, Winston Surfshirt jump up on stage for two tracks), there was also loads of jamming, enticing the audience with a sense of flow.

Dropping a cheeky cover on the occasion over hard hitting synth melodies, the boys carried themselves gracefully, and proved profound versatility.

The eight hour love affair that was Astral People's fifth birthday was definitely a tiresome one - purely due to the amount of euphoric dancing hustled throughout. With one more fight left in us all, it was such a pleasure saving it for The Posse, as they closed out the celebratory night.

Signing to Plastic World (co-founded by Astral People's Vic Edirisinghe) earlier 2016, the Sydney outfit brought a couple of extra members to the stage, that resulted in having two keyboards, a synth, bongos, bass, guitar and a drumkit, all crammed up on the platform, being played by incredibly talented musicians.

What felt like a sessions performance, The Posse played an extended set that drove their signature, collated funk and soul sound. Much like Polographia, the gentlemen jammed the whole way through with each buzzing instrumental, and maintained a solid atmosphere for the last ones standing at the birthday. Partly due to the fact that you can only stream their debut single online, it's always a special occasion catching a substantial listen of The Posse through their live shows, and is one I can only urge you to attend when the opportunity presents itself.

Energetic, whimsical and characteristic, the celebrations of Astral People's fifth birthday epitomised what this tiny crew does for the hearts of a large number of people. We absolutely love what you do, happy birthday!

Words by Hannah Galvin.

Photo credit: Sam Whiteside of Voena.