Pete Tong celebrates his Wonderland success story with Pnau
Read my exclusive review of Pete Tong's Wonderland at Eden, Ibiza, featuring Pnau and Crookers, which was originally published on Clash. Or, alternatively, here it is in full below.
“It’s a risk isn’t it?’ says Pete Tong, surveying the glistening bodies below the box at his night Wonderland.
It’s stupid o’ clock on a Saturday, we’re at Eden in San Antonio (the Blackpool of Ibiza) and the revellers are chomping for one more bass-led tune. Risky would be plonking Danny Rampling behind the decks in a desperate bid to re-connect with the ‘kidz’ after his cringeworthy self-help e-book. But it’s boisterous Italian duo Crookers who are pummeling it in the headlining slot, ensuring the camera phones stay permanently in the air.
You can understand Tong’s apprehension. For all its nipple tasseled aerialists, monstrous sound system and plush new décor, Wonderland’s first home, the compact Eden, has always ranked low in the White Isle’s league of dance monoliths. Tong’s decision to move here from glitzy Pacha drew much criticism. 2008, however, looks like the year they’ve elbowed back into tourists’ clubbing timetables.
Perhaps it’s something to do with the stage that illuminates the back of the main room. It’s not for sex shows, but a testament to Wonderland’s growing open mindedness. Since summer-long indie festival Ibiza Rocks swung into town four years ago, the dance destination has struggled to adapt to punters’ growing love of guitars ’n’ electronic hybrids, but Wonderland embraces live acts, who add to the night’s growing eclecticism, and make full use of the stage that illuminates the back of the main room.
On the stage tonight we’re treated to Aussie electro-disco stalwarts Pnau. All heads turn to the rear when the trio erupts into glimmering cosmic synths. Sexually charged signature track ‘Wild Strawberries’ immediately propels the crowd with its juddery Ed Banger-y rhythms and prompts breathy falsetto from Jim Morrisson-styled front man Pete Mayes. He tugs at his shrug as if it’s the last thing stopping him and an Uffie-alike romping on a purple satin bedspread. They stomp briefly through pouty electro pop noir territory with ‘Embrace’ (sadly sans sassy guest vocalist Ladyhawke) but finish on a euphoric tilt when the unrelenting bleep rock chorus of ‘Come Together’ descends into tiresome repetitiveness.
Pnau have been churning out albums since 1999, so the story that they were recently ‘discovered’ by Elton John (of all people) in Oz is quite embarassing, but their long-standing reputation gives them enough muscle to stick steadfast in the UK’s infatuation with post-prom synth pop.
Fast-forward to Crookers’ sonic fireworks and the floor is trembling at the bass. They’ve built their reputation on remix after gut wobbling remix, exploding all over the blog-o-sphere and settling themselves messily between DJ Craze’s Miami bass bothering, Switch and Sinden’s big club fidget house, Hervé’s love affair with 2-step and the post-Daft Punk electro-chopping producers like SebastiAn.
Their Kid Cudi remix ‘Day and Night’ with its infectious vocal line gets a cheer from the dancefloor when its speaker shakin’ crunky beat jitters into yo-yoing sub-bass, while their Busy P remix calls out “Those other DJs aren’t fucking with us” to the rump bouncing mass beneath them. Slick ghettotech pumps in and out while the little ’n’ large pair, trendily dressed in Mischka tees and Nike caps, nod, arms folded, knowing that they own it. Hell, they don’t even like playing Ibiza; their set tonight is two fingers up to the island’s out-dated purist progressive house, techno and trance menu. Their hip hop-hinged belters are hotter than Beyoncé’s G-string – and if anything, that’s a safe bet to sate white isle palettes.
Pete Tong has had a varied career in the eyes of the underground yet his bold new move has done him many favours and his new Wonderland is one that will only swell with numbers and songs of praise. His booking of such forward thinking dance floor dons as Crookers shows that this old rave dog has more than a few old tricks up his sleeves than you would expect…