Lights, KLLO, action: Kubik’s homecoming was a radiant celebration of the city’s best

Lights, KLLO, action: Kubik’s homecoming was a radiant celebration of the city’s best

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Words by Leland Tan
Photos by Andrew Bibby

Celebrating its ten-year anniversary, Melbourne Music Week pulled out the big guns this year and brought back its revered multi-sensory installation and hub, Kubik.

Conceptualised by German collective Balestra Berlin and returning for the first time since its 2011 debut at Birrarung Marr, the hub found a new home within Alexandra Gardens. Energized not only by renewable energy, the LED-clad walls were also designed to respond to the beats and frequencies of the live performances within.

Opening proceedings, multi-disciplinary artist Sione Teumohenga – better known as Lonelyspeck – pulled in idle crowds from outside the Kubik circle. Well known for his diversification in sounds and projects, the Adelaide-based artist soon had loiterers hooked.

Classically trained veteran LUCIANBLOMKAMP was second, with his fluid creations further encompassing the strength and depth of multi-instrumentalists that the city is renowned for. When the dark ebbs and flows in new single ‘SD’ juxtaposed the enigmatic drum and bass-inspired ‘Endless’, even the hub found trouble keeping up with the ever-changing tempo.

Witnessing the multi-instrumentalist was nothing short of magisterial; his unstable nature more a strength than hindrance – a fact equally applicable to the third act.

Baths hails from Los Angeles, though the hellish creations he conjures sound otherworldly. It’s utter rule-bending chaos. Uprooting much of what made him a predictable operation, the playful maestro shunned most of what was expected of him and produced a set full of ironic screeches and forceful vocal intonations to tide his electronic mind-melters.

‘Miasma Sky’ was, too, met with the hellfire treatment that pushed the man’s vocal prowess towards soreness, and by expected closer ‘Animals’ and an unnamed house tech type beat, he’d announced that his voice was far from usable and left the crowd on a tangible high gay high (he urged the crowd to yell ‘gay’, and they did!).

KLLO took stage for their set, pushing into midnight. Though it was a Tuesday night, it was evident half the folks would’ve been willing to cop the extra cuppa or two in the morning for an extended set.

The Melbourne cousins cleanly walk the line between infectious electro-house beats and brooding lyrics, and Chloe Kaul’s delivery has grown smoother, making way for a pleasantly languid performance.

Matched with Simon Lam’s live proficiency on his garage pieces, their characterisation of ‘performing in a tiny cheese shop, to Kubik at Alexandra Gardens’ summed up their narrative as ever-growing champions of the city.

The build-up from slow runners ‘Candid’ and ‘Predicament’ hit as intended, while ending on ‘Virtue’ threw witnesses into hysteria – a spell-binding end fitting for a light-bending fete in the gardens.

Highlight: MMW, for 100 per cent renewable energy on its installations, offsetting carbon emissions, as well as reusable drink cups and a zero-waste policy.

Lowlight: The empty platforms on Kubik’s light towers were begging for contemporary dancers to accompany its glow.

Crowd Favourite: KLLO’s ‘Virtue’