Event Review: Southfest 2005, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 9th April, 2005
UK Breathes Life Back Into The Argentine Electronica Scene
A host of UK artists kicked the Buenos Aires scene back into action after an unusually quiet summer. Faithless, Mylo, Sasha & Digweed and Argentinean native, UK-resident Hernan Cattaneo blew away 25,000 fans on a humid autumn night at the port-side extravaganza.
Following the death of 193 rock fans at a local club fire in December, the Argentine club scene has taken a severe thrashing due to lax security and safety precautions. Immediately following the tragedy, all nightclubs, cinemas and event halls were closed before being visited by city officials and having their precautions reviewed. This has had a harsh impact on the industry, and practically paralyzed the dance music scene with some of the superclubs still closed four months later.
And so it was to great relief that Camel’s Southfest 2005 arrived in the Argentine capital, setting the new benchmark for outdoor dance events. As one of the most professional and well organized festivals I have ever attended here in South America, the crowd was treated to the final party of the outdoor season, which made sure that the Buenos Aires electronica scene would not close as easily as the clubs.
In a country where dinner normally starts at 10 pm, the 10-hour festival kicked off at the early hour of 6 pm with local stars F. Dellamonica, Rama and Capri providing the local warm up till the arrival of up-and-coming superstar Mylo playing to an already ¾ full arena. Having been guest DJ a week earlier on BBC Radio One’s Essential Selection, the Scotsman treated the crowd to a varied 50 minute set including his own classic “Drop The Pressure” – a belter which really set the tone for the night.
With a warmed up crowd, it was time for Argentina’s own Hernan Cattaneo to take over. You could tell that the crowd had been waiting for this one – to a huge cheer, the image of the London-resident Argentine superstar appeared on the giant video screen behind the stage, and the beat of Alex Neri’s “Housetrack (Steve Angello Remix)” swept over the masses by the shores of the Rio de la Plata. The place went off. Hernan went on to play a short but quite intense set, which only just quenched the thirst of the crowd, and left them wanting a well deserved rest. Although being quite predictable, the main problem was its short duration (just under two hours). Let’s hope he’s back soon and for longer!
By this time the place was packed to the brim, with punters guzzling their Speed energy drinks and Brahma beer, eagerly awaiting Faithless’ debut gig in Argentina. They didn’t have to wait long. With dim green lights descending upon the crowd, the silhouette of Maxi Jazz appeared on the stage to the dulcet tones of a guitar echoed throughout the port. Opening with “I Want More” one of the latest tunes from their new album “No Roots,” that oh-so-familiar voice then launched into the unforgettable classic “Insomnia,” which assured the Argentine punters that Faithless had indeed arrived. The crowd went mad.
Sister Bliss and the crowd-player Maxi Jazz took the masses through a musical rollercoaster of Faithless’ diverse talents, belting out classics such as “God Is A DJ,” new tunes such as “Miss U Less, See U More,” “Mass Destruction” and finally closing their 1½ -hour set later with the legendary “We Come One.” This was as complete and comprehensive a concert that a fan could ever wish for, and their talent and charisma really won over the crowd and the night.
Then came the legends. At a few minutes past 2 am, two of the world’s finest DJs arrived onto the stage to another great Argentine cheer. Alexander Coe and Diggers, aka Sasha & Digweed, treated Buenos Aires to a four hour marathon which reflected their diverse in musical tastes, skill and pure creativity. From hardcore techno to Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out,” the UK duo proved why they are still regarded as some of the best DJs in the world. Playing a very upbeat set for the first two hours, the crowd had little time to rest, with hardly any “lows.”
In perhaps one of the highlights of the evening, a downpour of rain arrived, soaking everyone to the bone. Just as the mood was low, people were getting cold and they’d thought that the best of the night was over, the Welsh / English team belted out the Killers’ anthem “Mr Brightside (Thin White Duke remix).” This ignited the crowd once again and the mesh of mud, rain and buzzing faces was just wicked! With that, Sasha & Digweed proved their eclectic musical taste and talent, playing a variety of tunes such as: Scissor Sisters’ “Filthy - Gorgeous (Paper Faces main mix),” Superpitcher’s “Happiness (Michael Mayer mix),” Depeche Mode’s “Behind The Wheel,” Enzo Scifo featuring Holly’s “Alive (Mara’s subterranean dub),” Chab’s “Closer To Me (Alon Halperin mix),” Moby’s “Lift Me Up (16b Blue Stream mix),” Yoshimoto’s “Du What U Du (Trentemoller Mix)” and Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love.”
With the UK having certainly made its mark throughout the night, so it was only right that the final tune played was a British classic. And it was. As the sun rose over Puerto Madero, the exhausted Buenos Aires punters danced their last to the Chemical Brother’s latest, “Believe.” Muddy shoes pummelled the ground before happy clubbers wandered home knowing that the scene was far from dead – they’d always have the UK to help them out when needed.
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