Two years ago we witnessed the inauguration of Tell No Tales - a gem of a boutique festival held at the Royal Randwick Racecourse, featuring house and techno royalty such as Ricardo Villalobos, Audion and Nastia. Fast forward to 2018 and the party has grown in to the Greenwood Hotel, bringing with it another golden selection of top-flight internationals playing across 4 stages, with talented local support.
On game day, it was WeLove front man Nick Reverse who opened the terrace - setting the stage for the first international to hit the decks, techno siren Deborah De Luca. Easing the crowd in with her stripped-down sound, De Luca was biding her time - dropping the occasional thumper like George Makraki’s ‘In My Mind’ and building up to an inevitable explosion. When the tail end of her set was besieged by a sudden downpour, the die hard ravers stuck with her for the final stretch.
We made a beeline for the Chapel, where Jermaine Jones was addressing the congregation - serving up some deep-leaning tracks before closing with M.E.M.O’s ‘Tai Tai’ and transferring duties to the wild energy of Illya. The music was bumping and spirits were high as we explored the other rooms at the venue, each with their own distinctive sound and vibe.
As the rain subsided, we circled back outside where the techno heads were going hard to the live analogue set of Agents Of Time. The talented Italian trio were one of the highlights of the previous TNT and their return to Sydney did not disappoint. They showcased their own material like ‘20 Seconds To Mars’ and worked in harmony to produce intricate layers of sound. With 5pm fast-approaching, the biggest decision of the day was before us – catch a 3 hour set by Derrick Carter or experience Laurent Garnier in the main arena??
Predictably, we decided to stick with Garnier. Watched off-stage by his long term friend and collaborator Scan X (who was set to perform a live set in the Club room later that evening), the French master’s set was a carefully curated cross-section of techno and deeper melodies. Garnier demonstrated his considerable skill repeatedly - at one point he segued Jonathan Kasper’s ‘Toona’ into his own remix of Martin Landsky’s ‘1000 miles’ before following it up with the crowd-pleasing anthem ‘Yom Thorke’ by KiNK. It was good, so good that tearing ourselves away to check out Carter took a serious effort.
With Laurent dropping ‘Glide’ by Damien Bortz as we ventured indoors, we returned to the Chapel where Carter had the audience enraptured. The Chicago don has been making the planet dance for decades and the Sydney crowd were no different, with many overcome by his funky, jackin’ house tunes like Re-Tide’s ‘Piano Lover’ and M&S classic, ‘Salsoul Nugget’. If outside was a rave, then this was a house party and Carter was the host, taking us on a groovy ride infused with his joyful attitude.
After much debating, we made the difficult decision to bid house luminary Carter farewell and head back outside for the remainder of Garnier’s set, catching him as he ushered in the sunset with Satoshiu Fumi’s ‘Hayabusa’. Few DJs are able to inspire the kind of awe and respect that he does and in the final stages of his set, he had even the most casual participant captivated.
Ending with a humble thank you over the mic, Garnier passed the baton to TNT alumni Pan Pot to bring it home. The Berlin duo’s set was a 2 hour journey of undulating techno - shaking the crowd with likes of Roel Salemink’s ‘Empresa’ and Joy Kitikonti classic ‘Joyenergizer’. Garnier is perhaps the toughest act to follow, but despite his masterclass the boys closed with style - eliciting cheers and applause from the crowd as they played out their final track.
As the revellers dispersed, some headed to the city for the after-party while others were content to call it a night. It was clear to all that Tell No Tales has made its mark as an essential offering in Sydney’s dance music calendar, with music of the highest calibre and top production across the board. See you next year, no doubt.
Were you at Tell No Tales? Share your experiences with us - comment below!