After a pair of stellar events across Sydney and Brisbane, the 2023 edition of Smirnoff Origins has come to a close, having enchanted audiences across the country, and ensuring dreams came true for a couple of rising local acts.
Anyone who is already aware of Smirnoff would be similarly across the inextricable link between eclectic flavour combinations and their enduring love and support of music. Thus, it made perfect sense earlier this year when they launched their Smirnoff Origins events.
The premise was simple, with two gigs held across February and March, and providing exactly the sort of music-lover’s dream that has been missing from the local music scene. With iconic Aussie artists dishing out headline sets by returning to some of the country’s most beloved and iconic venues which hosted these very names in their formative years, the high-profile events were also complemented by beverages from the fine folks at Smirnoff, turning them into events that will resonate for a long time to come.
One of the points of difference between the Smirnoff Origins events and any other musical celebration was their desire to shine a spotlight on up-and-coming talent, too, with a rising artist being hand-picked by the headliner of each night to serve as the support act.
Things well and truly got underway on February 2nd at Sydney’s own Club 77 when local electro icons The Presets took over the club for the night. The intimate nature of the event saw the venue feel like a tribute to the dance-music venues of the early noughties, with the very essence of the Oxford Art Factory and the Purple Sneakers nights being brought to the forefront of punter’s minds.
With about 180 patrons in attendance, the low ceilings of Club 77 saw the venue transform into something of a techno den, not too far removed from the sort of locales frequented by The Presets on their rise to success.
“I almost needed one of these moments to just, to find that opening and sort of be free into Swayfever and move into that,” he recalls. “It always will come back to where I’m from. It just makes sense to put some indigenous instrumentation and sounds throughout my music, because I feel like it just goes so naturally into house music and dance music.
“I can’t even believe that my name’s next to The Presets,” he recalls of the experience. “It’s just so strange. It literally means everything, it’s the one of the only things that gives me purpose.”
Swayfever’s audience quickly grew throughout his performance, and it didn’t take long for his singular mix of disco, techno, and dance to draw a massive crowd. With the audience awash with joy at the nostalgic sounds provided by the producer, it was impossible to be affected by the pure happiness that his far-too-short set provided for those in attendance.
Of course, it was The Presets that brought the energy to fever pitch, with their acclaimed appearance manifesting as a set full of their iconic hits from their more than two decades of music.
With the crowd filling up the small space until the early hours of the morning, The Presets played to their strengths, going so far as to drip-feed tastes of their iconic hit “My People” before eventually culminating in a ten-minute, techno-heavy celebration of what it is that has turned them into household names of the Aussie electro scene.
Of course, if you felt that the Smirnoff Origins celebration was off to a strong start, its second event was set to prove that things were only just getting started in Sydney. Taking over famed Brisbane institution The Brightside on March 9th, it was Crooked Colours that were tasked with ensuring the good vibes flowed freely on the evening.
With the venue already famed for its elevated outdoor stage and its close proximity to the neighbouring brutalist buildings, the near-dystopian atmosphere served as the perfect environment for the subversive presence of youthful energy and eager faces. This energy was matched by the outdoor setting coming alive with storeys-tall projections that were as hypnotising as they were colourful.
Like Swayflower before them, the evening’s festivities were kicked off by fellow emerging artists Gimme Gimme. A brother-and-sister duo out of Bellingen, many of those in attendance who weren’t yet across the Gimme Gimme sound would have emerged from the venue firm fans of the pair’s sickly-sweet and multi-faceted production.
Filling out the pit in no time, Esther and Will Henderson won fans over with their dazzling interplay of instruments, ranging from electric guitar, violin, bass, and trumpet, with the act recruiting a five-piece band to ensure that their set was as full and powerful as possible.
Pushing themselves to the absolute limit, their performance was well and truly beloved by the crowd, who were left screaming for an encore as the pair took their leave from the stage.
Needless to say, Crooked Colours were thereby shouldered with the hefty task of living up to the expectations placed upon them by the magnificence of the opening act, though it didn’t take any time at all for the Perth outfit to find firm fans in the crowd.
Taking to the stage as a duo, the uber-cool pairing of Liam Merrett-Park on guitar and Phil Slabber on keys was a true standout amongst everyone in attendance, with the Crooked Colours lads ensuring that they delivered a solid and powerful airing of their most beloved tracks, including the likes of “Hold On”, for which the pair gained widespread audience approval as they got up close and personal with the adoring crowd.
With the Smirnoff Origins series now coming to an end, it’s clear that with just two events, this pair of live showcases were not just beloved by everyone in attendance, but also by the artists at the centre of it all. Whether it was veteran acts getting the chance to return to the venues that once fostered them, or for emerging acts relishing the opportunity to showcase their skills before newfound fans, it was clear that it wasn’t just the audience who adored the festivities.
Though it might now be over, time will tell whether we’ll see Smirnoff Origins return bigger and better in the future. Given how popular things were in 2023, it’s fair to say the desire to do it all over again is incredibly apparent.
If you’re looking for another stellar way to ensure you’re taking part in all that the Aussie summer has to offer, make sure you’re also across the new Smirnoff Seltzer Cocktails. Featuring two new flavours, Spicy Margarita and Watermelon Margarita, they’re a bolder addition to any summer playlist.
While we’re all about having fun, please remember to drink responsibly. Smirnoff knows music, do you know your DrinkIQ?