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Darude – Victory Hotel, Brisbane 15/09/16

Written by Riley Fitzgerald on September 16, 2016

Given how quickly novelty pop can recede from history, there’s few who could have anticipated was the longevity of Darude’s Sandstorm. Cutting in at the clubbier end of hard trance, the uplifting charter-topper has remained in steady circulation for something closing in on two decades. A casual fan may not know the artist, perhaps even the track’s title, but what’s certain is that recognition of its acidic lead riff is nothing short of ubiquitous. Sandstorm’s  revivification as a sonic meme spurred Darude to emerge from obscurity in 2015 with club- orientated album Moments. Presumably, he’s been touring ever since.

It would be misleading to contend that anyone was there for anything less than the single track. A brief sampling of the social media for the event attests to this. The most recurring commentary reads some like this:

“DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU DU!”

Taking to the Stage of Brisbane’s The Victory Hotel, The ‘Rude emerges soul patch intact. A sweeping euphoria quickly sets in. As with LP Moments, snatches of Sandstorm’s sonic elements permeate the set. It’s seemingly custom built to tantalise hungry one-song fans while slipping through some other musical ideas. Ultimately this might not entice punters into The Rude’s deeper discography, but as far as an energy builder it’s a masterstroke. Tinnitus-inducing volumes send ripples of energy across the venue’s cramped confines.

For a while, the atmosphere simmers as blissed-out ravers gyrate with abandon to happy hardcore and rave stompers. But then comes the chanting. The set is spasmodically interrupted by collective droning: “Sannnndstorm….Sannnndstorm…Sannnnnndstorm…Sannnnnnndstorm.” The audience embarks on a pre-emptive attempt to invoke the Rude’s inevitable endgame. “Shhhhh,” he answers in a thickly Finnish accent, then coyly smiles. Smoke machines burst, catalysing mass hysteria.

Then comes Sandstorm itself, met with a collection of hoots and hollers. Music is all about familiarity and embedded so deeply within the collective psyche of an online generation, there’s a guilty but undeniably ambrosial pleasure of hearing the track live. Filter sweeps, risers, stingers and hits provide all the vamps which could be desired, this music was after all crafted to stoke, if not invoke, the spiralling peaks of rave euphoria. The melodious accessibility and good vibrations remain the backbone of Darude’s trance sound. When his set touches this territory it finds its groove. At full volume, uplifting builds and brash maximalism cut through to the core.

The fervour of pedestrian ravers proves too infectious for others not to join in. Spectacle shifts not from the DJ or his mixscape but the crowd itself. Banging rave intensity is achieved. While this enthusiasm is in parts uninformed by the backstory of dance culture, it’s palpable regardless. Sure it’s a celebration of the cliché, but that’s part of the fun. 

After Sandstorm crests, there’s an empty feeling. The long awaited and much teased moment of gratification has all too quickly passed. It climaxes no sooner than it arrives.

Darude’s revival is effectively spun out of a single moment of pop success. Sandstorm is a guilty pleasure which refuses to die, even more than a decade on. Yet Sandstorm is a formidable track none-the-less. A late but high watermark of rave’s initial explosion, the riff-driven banger seduces with uncharacteristically distant beats. The fact this Finnish producer can pack a venue fuller than any po-faced indie artist or DJ in town is a sobering testament to the all-powerful draw of accessible music. 

Darude’s Australian tour continues tonight in Sydney. Head here for dates and details.

Gallery: Darude – Victory Hotel, Brisbane 15/09/16 / Photos: Rebecca Reid

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