The Operatives 11th Birthday at Revolt Artspace (Melbourne)

Heading into the warehouse district north of Melbourne, you really could find almost anything. Even if you know that your destination is Revolt Artspace, the venue has hosted such an eclectic mix of events that you could still be unsure of what to expect. Saturday the 6th of June saw the Operatives host their 11th birthday at Revolt. Responsible for fuelling the growth of some of Australia’s finest artists and aligning local with international talent, the Operatives have been an integral part of the Australian music scene. What better way to celebrate than with a ‘full camo gear encouraged’ battle theme? We all know that camo print had its time in the 90s and while I had it in every colour back then (which really defeats the purpose of camo!) I had to borrow my housemates’ pants for this occasion. Revolt had been decked out with military and battle style décor and impressively a number of punters had adhered to the dress code.

The night began at a very early 5pm with local beat makers headspace, Jade Zoe, Mimi, Lady Banton and Amin Payne warming up the room. The one thing unfortunate about an early and fairly long show is the crowd. Meaning that while the local talent made the most of a small audience, it was a shame there wasn’t more of a vibe for them to work with. As more people trickled in, Beat Spacek really amped the place up with his UK style mix of hi-tech sounds, grime and groove.

Finally the much anticipated first ever Melbourne set from Sheffield’s TODDLA T supported by Sunit, began around 830 and his track selection was incredible. Bringing out everything from classic UK Jungle hits to new school Trap sounds, TODDLA T was incredibly energetic. Smoking on stage is something we don’t get to see anymore, so it was a little rebellious fun to see it here especially combined with his hand dances and pogo stick-like jumping. Dizzee Rascal’s 2003 hit ‘I Luv U’ (one of my top 5 Dizzee tracks!) received a good mix, followed closely by Wiley, Wacka Flocka Flame, Kanye and then back to London with Skepta. A highlight of the debut set was the fantastic mini rebirth of old jungle tunes that really got the crowd winding and jumping, topped with Flosstradamus’ crowd starter ‘Roll Up’. Just before the end of his stage time, TODDLA T snuck in fantastic 2007 Reggae track ‘Come Around’ by Collie Buddz before having to overcome a few minor technical difficulties to bring the house back up and make way for TOKiMONSTA.

The Los Angeles producer is the first female to have released music on Brainfeeder – Flying Lotus’ record label and has some notable collaborations under her belt already. Starting low-key compared to TODDLA T, her set began with a slowed down version of Lupe Fiasco’s 2006 ‘Kick Push’ and continued with a very chilled vibe. About halfway into things, she started to amp things up a little and threw all the way back to 1995 with Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s ‘Shimmy Shimmy Ya’ followed up with Tinashe ‘2 On’ featuring TOKiMONSTA collaborator SchoolBoy Q. By now Revolt was well into the party vibe and responded well to the uplifted part of her set and well known tracks by Kendrick Lamar, Missy Elliot, Diplo and Dillon Francis and the crowd pleaser that turns everyone into a grill-wearing gangster – A$AP Ferg’s ‘Shabba’. TOKiMONSTA’s set was peppered nicely with her own remixes and releases and what felt like a very slow beginning turned out to be an exciting hour. Belgium’s LOSCO was also a lot of fu, bringing lots of bangers, JT, Basement Jaxx and some Hundson Mohawke.

Altogether, the Operatives put on a successful and very celebratory 11th birthday showing us exactly the top types of talents they are associated with and the great new music they are helping to showcase. The Operatives sure aren’t going away any time soon.

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