Australian electronic music culture has been significantly shaped by Richie McNeill’s Hardware Group. McNeill, who’s also known as DJ Richie Rich, established Hardware in Melbourne in 1991 and went on to launch events such as Apollo, Two Tribes and Stereosonic.
To celebrate three decades of parties, tours and festivals, McNeill is staging ‘Hardware 30: True Faith’ this December, with shows in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Alongside the anniversary tour – which is headlined by Richie Hawtin – McNeill is launching the book, Tales from The Dancefloor, in November. For a taster of what’s inside, McNeill highlights 10 milestones in Hardware’s history.
Richie McNeill on the Highlights of Hardware’s 30-Year History
Hardware 1 (1991)
This is where it all began. Willie, Hess and I DJing on a door placed on lockers – forget about OH&S back then – to a sellout crowd of 600 in a rowing club on the Yarra River. $15 tickets – wild.
Happy Valley 2 (1992)
DJ Abel Toro’s outdoor rave in Sydney. I drove up with Richard and Heidi John from Every Picture Tells a Story and we had a blast. Incredible music, incredible vibe and one of the best events I have ever been to. It was early days, the music was pure, the scene was sincere and the place full of vibe and love. Generational.
Cosmic Baby (1993)
Melbourne was becoming a global hotspot at this stage. The scene was growing at a fast rate and trance music was taking the world by storm. Cosmic Baby was the pioneer of melodic trance and we were one of the first countries outside of Germany he played – and one of the first countries to embrace the emotional trance sound in general.
Hardware 5 – Laurent Garnier (1994)
Laurent Garnier’s first trip to Australia and first rave of over 5000 people. He played for six hours (I gave him my set) and this is when I fell in love with his music. To me, he’s the greatest and this took Melbourne to another level.
Transatlantic with Richie Hawtin
As a one off, we held it in Shed 15 at Docklands. Is there a better technical DJ pushing the boundaries of performance and musical construction? This show was special in so many ways.
This was Australia’s first national dance festival and we managed to snag Daft Punk before they were massive, Basement Jaxx, Fluke, Speedy J, Jeff Mills etc. It lost a lot of money and was ahead of its time. It was an incredible two shows and launched into Two Tribes, Summadayze and the rest is history.
Two Tribes (1999)
Hardware and Future joined forces after a double booking of the same venue, and a year after Apollo, the travelling circus of dance music began winning countless awards and we had a truly national festival across the country paving the way for Good Vibrations, Summadayze, Park Life, V Festival and more.
Welcome 2000 (1999)
Record breaking show of 15,000+ taking us into the new millennium with an incredible lineup (Jeff Mills, CJ Boland, Honeysmack, Voitek, Jason Digby) and the best fireworks I have seen, ever.
Global Gathering and its Australian representatives tried to take us out on the same two weekends of Stereosonic. It was make or break then. We were either going to survive or be buried by the mega-promoters trying to take us down. It didn’t work out well for them.
Piknic Électronik (2019)
Nina Kraviz closing what was a huge 10,000 pax crowd on our biggest season before Covid. Perfect weather, all female lineup and incredible performances by Laura King and Kiti B2B with Chiara Kickdrum.