Global Gathering @ Doomben Racecourse, Brisbane (29/11/08)

Waking on a Saturday morning had never been such an exciting experience. With a warm 25 degrees and the humidity going through the roof, Global Gathering was about to hit Brisbane. Being a festival that has been dominating in Europe since 2001 and now branching out to over ten countries, I was close to shaking to see what Future Entertainment could produce with such a large menu of events this summer.

Upon entering the racecourse, I quickly went exploring to find my boundaries and discover the venue and its layout. Walking past the V Volley ball area I managed to catch Brad Smede and Nick T opening the Godskitchen Stage with some funky tech while people started their day chilling on the grass as the sun blazed overhead. Already in the early stages of this festival, shirts were coming off – the beginning of summer, Global Gathering was the best way to welcome it.

At the Ministry of Sound tent, Goodwill was playing a mish mash of tech and progressive house. His mixes seemed a little off, but being a warm up set, the punters did not have a concern in the world. Towards the close of his set, Goodwill moved the cross fader and pressed play to a radio smash Sex on Fire by Kings of Leon. At the Mashed Stage, local Nick Galea was bumping out his own funking, grooving set. However, Above and Beyond were due. Trying to ignore the mud the best I could, I jumped to the barricades to witness the last five seconds of Australia’s ITM50 #4 DJ Baby Gee, noting that the crowd seemed to be at the perfect tempo for the long journey that Above & Beyond had in store. Starting with some progressive style trance, I knew that these guys had a long way to build. And thus the masters went to work, increasing the BPMs ever so slightly with every track. I recognized their first track as Andy Duguid’s Wasted. From there, they upped the anti and started to thump out the basslines to get the heart pumping on a sweaty sticky afternoon. Although the heat was becoming near unbearable, the mud seemed the the easiest way to cool down – and so I, surrounded by many others, embraced our extraordinary surroundings. As Above & Beyond smashed it, I managed to catch the last part of The Aston Shuffle. Their set proved to be a safe haven from the humidity with the air conditioning, and the sound system was brilliant as the floor filled at a amazingly fast pace.

It was at this point that a massive threatening thundercloud seemed to engulf the entire racecourse appearing with all the impact of a space ship from Independence Day. Hook N Sling was close to shelter, and as the rains overwhelmed the festival, many people came to see his set while keeping out of the storm. Hook N Sling showed his appreciation and churned out some great tech house spiced with some progressive – certainly keeping things interesting. As the heavens opened, a cheer filled the festival as rain slammed upon the entire racecourse with the wind blowing a mighty gale and crowds fled in every direction. But as fast as the rain came, it was gone leading the way for local Plan B to make his festival debut. Starting with deep progressive mixing, he built the crowd to an energetic level. Performed as though already a star, everyone in the vicinity could see the joy in his eyes. This is where Plan B was meant to be. This was also the best performance I had seen so far that day. After dancing my heart out to Plan B, I jumped across to the Ministry of Sound stage to glimpse DJ Sneak. Despite a few sound issues, Sneak looked like he was having a blast. Daft Punk’s Music Sounds Better With You had the entire crowd in a sing-a-long and his set proved to be just as top shelf as everything else on the bill.

From the Godskitchen Stage, Australia’s ITM50 #1 DJ tyDi was in the bowels of trance and really giving it to a merry crowd. Back at the Ministry of Sound tent, the sounds of The Gorillaz soundsystem were playing ACDC’s You Shook Me All Night Long. While this was confusing to me, the soundsystem was overpowered by screaming enthusiasts wanting to sing along with the words and dance forever and beyond. I realised this festival was proving itself to be of sheer brilliance, and I was very lucky to bear witness to it.

After wandering around the merchandise area which had a distinctive carnivale atmosphere while munching on a hot dog, it was back to the Ministry Tent to see the American duo Fischerspooner . They were blasting out the best electroclash and electronica that they could get their hands on. The mixes were sloppy at times but the dirty electro was coming by the dozen. With a sudden drawback of the curtain, the audience was treated to a stage set up of Kraftwerk and then just as quickly as it appeared, the curtain was teasingly drawn back. The brief visual would have made many hearts flutter with over excitement.

With a few stars twinkling in the night sky and the mud softening the ground for our feet, the progressive god Sasha did not disappoint, starting things off with a few minimalistic tunes. His builds were quite incredible, blowing people away left right and centre. With Sasha unfortunately clashing with ATB, I was forced to divide my time between the both, hurrying across the steel walkway towards the tones of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. No energy was being held back for the final thirty minutes of his set as he unleashed the best of trance at us.

Global Gathering was definitely a quality festival. It covered a large area to comfortably fit its 10,000 strong audience, had quality performances that revolved around the trance genre and whilst the rain proved to be a bit of a setback, it showed what good sports we could be in our determination to pursue fun. With such massive acts, fantastic sound systems and plenty of sitting space, it is with much anticipation I look towards Global Gathering 2009. But for now, my festival thirst was officially quenched.