Adelaide Fringe

Fringe Review: History of House

The History of House is a phenomenal live event that will make you wonder: If music can be this much fun, why aren’t we always dancing?

The History of House is a phenomenal live event that will make you wonder: If music can be this much fun, why aren’t we always dancing?

Presented by: Gluttony

Reviewed: 18 February, 2024

House music pioneer and DJ Frankie Knuckles once said that the Chicago-based Warehouse – birthplace of ‘house’ – was like a ‘church for people who have fallen from grace’. In 1980’s America, this was the African American and Latino communities and the LGBTQI community. Has that changed? Beyond the point. The point is that house has a religiosity to it, with empowering, feel-good vibes of love-yourself-and-love-everyone-around-you. Rising from the ashes of disco and emphasising repetitive, electronic beats, house embraced the Southern Baptist gospel voice. Think of Robin S’s Show Me Love and you’ll see the connection. There are highs and lows and ecstatic celebrations, which is why I say the pairing of one of Australia’s biggest DJs and one of the world’s greatest gospel choirs is pure Fringe gold. 

Looking a little space-aged in red t-shirt with white pants and shiny vest and wearing funky thick-rimmed glasses, Adelaide-reared Groove Terminator (Simon Lewicki) stood centre stage as he mastered the groove box at last-night’s opening of History of House, surrounded by seventeen members of the Soweto Gospel Choir. Together they were a force of pure talent and energy. 

Formed in 2002, the three-time grammy-winning Soweto Gospel Choir has travelled the world, collaborating with innovative producers and legendary singers on albums. Often donning traditional South African dress, they were casual at the Fantail in jeans and matching t-shirts with purple suns, belting out house anthems like Deeper Love and Right on Time, dancing in synch as a group with a little African free-styling from the soloists. 

Groove Terminator’s selection was wild and varied, though flowed seamlessly from the house you’d expect to disco greats to a sample of Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance with Somebody and Yothu Yindi’s Treaty, defining the music genre’s history by the attitude as much as the beat. The bouncing generation-blended crowd – quite a few on their mates’ shoulders – were constantly elated and occasionally surprised, Grove Terminator ticking their boxes. I mean, when you’re the child of a woman who set up Adelaide’s first community radio station and your first concert – age eight – was The Ramones at the Thebby, you’re going to be invested in music, right?  

The stage was lit in heavenly blues and purples, the lights like stars, sometimes a hot pink glow – it was all a little electric, a bit trippy, like a rave, and here we were, in Gluttony (such an apt name for a ‘church for people who have fallen from grace’). The venue has bleacher seats but not many bums were on them. Dancing was the go, and go you must. When will you ever get so close to the stage? Rock-up and praise the sound, this one’s a winner.

Reviewed by Heather Taylor Johnson

Photo credit: Helen Page

Venue: Fantail at Gluttony
Season: until 17 March
Duration:  90 minutes
Tickets: $35 to $58

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