Last night, I went to see Bag Raiders play live on Oxford St in the heart of Sydney. That sentence, in itself, might not seem particularly significant but given the week this city has just had, with the closure of one of the bastions of its nightlife shutting up shop tomorrow night, the reality is that the show was no small feat. Where Brother J earlier this week eloquently opined on the gradual decline of this city’s already ailing nightlife, the fact that an electronic group which first saw fame in 2010 might last night have played a show in this town, with all the odds, licensing laws and government policy decisions stacked against them, is kind of a beautiful thing. More beautiful still, perhaps, is ‘Vapour Trails’, among the first new material we’ve heard from the locals in some time.
Watching the masses jive as one last night to the Bag Raiders lads, putting on a DJ show that outdid most of the support acts’ efforts at live performance simply by virtue of superior beat-matching and an obvious ear for a banger, was a sort of out-of-body experience. From an elevated platform, I jived too, hyper-aware of the fact that just below me was the past being played out in all its technicolour glory. Here was a group whose eponymous debut soundtracked many of my formative years in hot, sweaty clubs returned triumphant, these paleontologists of sound seemingly exhuming the fossilised good times crowd that has been so sorely missing from Sydney in the aftermath of a raft of legislation designed to keep it in the ground. Aching feet aside, I felt my age, mind you. ‘Shooting Stars‘ is a veritable dance floor classic by now.
‘Vapour Trails’, then, is something of a strange proposition. Harking back to the days of yore but firmly aimed at the clubgoers of today (or at least a clarion call to those sheltering in their homes on a Saturday night), it evokes vaguely tribal and tropical themes but is notably more restrained and demure than many of its predecessors – hopeful, perhaps. That keys riff that underpins it had me scratching my head all this week but was last night clarified for me by a friend; the influence of Dario G’s 1997 hit ‘Sunchyme‘ is undeniable. Vapour trails, for what its worth, are the lines caused by exhaust that sometimes follow a jet as it pushes across the great blue. Five years after the tracks that established their creators as icons of the scene, this track is downright pretty but is far removed from the ecstatic quality of those earlier tunes. Last night, it made a room full of kids too young to be jaded bounce. One can only hope its title is not an apt metaphor for the death knell ringing in the wake of the demise of Sydney’s after-hours social life.
Bag Raiders – Vapour Trails