untitled-1

06 Dec Music, Beauty, Freedom – Paradise Music Festival 2016


Day 1 by Kassie Junkeer // Day 2 by Alex Gleeson // Photos by Jasper van Daatselaar


Paradise Music Festival returned for its fourth year with a stellar line-up and more features, venues and fun for both their loyal patrons and new additions. From an offering of espresso martinis to luxurious camping abodes, the team behind Paradise stepped up their offerings this year in line with the growth of the festival as a whole. Even the cold weather and misty-to-almost-sightless nights could do nothing to dampen the spirit that lives on in the unique Paradise crowd, who traverse Lake Mountain Alpine Resort annually for one sublime weekend in November.

Our team was there with you on the hill, watching as day turned into night, then onto clubland and the sheer fantastic mayhem that the artists and atmosphere creates. So here’s our review, reflections and right of passage to say that Paradise was, yet again, an unchallenged success in the Victorian festival hierarchy – and as usual we cannot WAIT until next year.


Day One

It’s liberating to be able to confidently say – to whichever group you’re spending time with – ‘I’m going to head to the stage now for a dance’, knowing that you will be safe and enjoy yourself following your feet. Paradise felt like a weekend of being surrounded by friends – my friends, friends of friends, or potential new friends. There were countless times where, unaware of the inherent corniness, I’d have to interrupt a friend and point out the sunset, sunrise or frosty sky that made the festival feel like the interior of an innately Australian snow globe.

Among the excitement and stress that goes into the preparation of leaving for a camping festival, it is both a necessary and solemn reality check to start the festival with a Welcome to Country. I would also like to acknowledge here that Paradise is held on land which was stolen from its traditional owners, the Taungurung people.

 

Hi-Tec Emotions started their set with such power and vitality, I felt like they blew open the expectations for the music we could expect to hear during the weekend. They widened our eyes and opened our ears. Acts that followed flowed so neatly, each bringing their own air to the stage.

Sui Zhen’s sound has evolved over the years in such a natural and exciting way. She has never compromised her musical identity, throughout its evolution. It was such a warm and delightful experience seeing her perform. So much of her came through her sound and stage presence – every audience member was feeling the energy of their music and bopping and rolling hips.

I hadn’t listened to much Julia Jacklin before Paradise, but seeing her live proved she lives up to the recent hype surrounding her music. Before we know it, she’ll be globally known and we will think, gosh we were so lucky to see her at play so beautifully on Friday night at Paradise 2016.

Gabriella Cohen’s set too was a journey through an array of different senses, which was what made the final part of it feel so magical. What started as quite a minimal and acoustic performance (with only a few people on stage) ended up bursting with people and friends jamming on stage and involving the audience.

I am so excited for the future of Fortunes.. Their set was so fresh and so smooth. Both Fortunes. and Baro, who followed, interacted dynamically with the audience. Baro, along with his new live band, had a set up which was striking and inviting. GL, despite the bare stage, wasted no space during her set. Her liveliness was absolutely contagious. Harvey Sutherland’s sound instils such a rare feeling of musical love in me and experiencing it live just amplifies that sensation.

 

Simona Castricum was the perfect act to open Clubland. Her set gave me this feeling I have occasionally (often at festivals or events that require a certain amount of prior preparation). The feeling when you realise you’ve been having heaps of fun and that is what you are supposed to be doing; you go to a festival to enjoy yourself and you become too carefree to remember that that’s the objective of the entire weekend. The space set everyone free from the cold. There were so many clothing items on the floor. I accidentally lost my jacket for the night behind a locker and nearly got stuck between a deep and tight gap between a locker and a wall trying to fish it out.

Clubland felt like a new club every time a new act started (despite hearing Jamie XX’s record played in full between sets) – the tailored visuals switched the vibe up really well. I loved Ocdantar’s visuals especially. They added a new plane to his music in such a tasteful way. Couture was an act I was eager to see because I believe it might have been the last opportunity to see them live as both members are now following other artistic pursuits. While Simon Lam is currently abroad touring with Kllo, Hamish Mitchell held the room well. Planéte’s sets never fail to inspire me. He always makes me feel especially proud to be from Melbourne – a feeling which Paradise as a festival amplifies as well.

At Paradise I had a lot of moments accepting my own fun, both alone and with friends, without seeking validation or doing things I didn’t want to do. A lot of other festivals have an undercurrent of pressure to be loud, or to be having the ‘most’ fun – and to broadcast that fact to the rest of the attendees. While I did feel free to be expressive at Paradise, there was no pressure to be anything in particular. Just an unspoken respect and acceptance between the crowd and performers alike to act however you felt like acting, dance however you felt like dancing, and embrace Paradise for its ability to make you feel free.


Day Two

The beauty of a chill-ridden fest is that you don’t awake from your slumber with the familiar rasp of horror, in a sun-filled tent which suddenly resembles a satanic sauna. No, instead you are woken up by the ramblings of tent friends, or the rustle of passers by. You’re given time to adjust, rather than having to scramble for fresh air and general respiratory release.

I personally find the first moment of exit from the tent one of life’s great joys. Primarily due to the great unknown of what may be happening underneath the main gazebo of the sprawling camp site. It seems, that at 11.30 am, several of my Paradise mates have decided it’s time for Espresso Martinis. I wish I could say I had the foresight not to get involved so early, however curiosity got the better of me, and I was on board.

We sipped intermittently, with the sound of Huntly floating through the campsite. Their jilted pop has never quite grasped me, however they did provide a lovely soundtrack to that Espresso hit.

 

The moment of note to kick start the day was always going to be Alice Ivy. The bopping barista has taken to the ladder of the Australian music scene with great authority in 2016, climbing with real purpose as the year has progressed. Her set had people shifting from their best impersonations of sedated souls, to moving with a bit more purpose. There’s something quite homely about her stage presence, it all seems so unabashed and joyous. It’s pretty nice seeing a musician have fun, but maybe I’m stuck in an alternate world with that mentality.

The sun began to shine, and the consequences were felt by many. A combo of hallucinogens and sunburn trickled through the crowd, leading to some truly hilarious facial expressions. It seemed a more than adequate backdrop to the performance of Saatsuma who, although still finding a cohesive sound, held some gorgeous sweeping melodies. Harmonies are undoubtedly Saatsuma’s strength, with both Memphis Kelly and sister Maddy Kelly showcasing their vocal range on more than one occasion.

I love Terrible Truths, but as is the case with festivals, I done fucked up and missed them. I bought a Bedroom Suck hat to make up for that though. I lost it twenty minutes later. They sounded great from the campsite.

 

It wouldn’t be a day two review if we weren’t to mention the creeping sense of fatigue. Keeping with the theme of “bands growing exponentially over 12 months” how FREAKING GOOD IS RAINBOW CHAN?

There’s this real sense of urgency and confidence in her stage show. It has shades of arrogance, so much bounce, and it is just god damn infectious. The juxtaposition of the power of Rainbow Chan’s ball of energy and my second day festival fatigue was real. We grooved for the first half, atop the rock 50 metres back, however by no fault of anyone, we found ourselves back on the slant, sipping away once again.

Krakatau blew my brain to pieces at Meredith 2 years back. Never had a sleepless night and relentless sunburn brought such joy. It’s difficult to pin down their style with clarity, as it seems forever changing. Without trying to genre-fy, I feel it leans most toward jazz and free form, however the tightness of their performance is seriously mind boggling. It was a joy watching the blissfully ignorant lay eyes upon this set for the first time. So many left in awe, of what was a commanding performance. It seems to be said numerous times each year, but scarcely have I seen a band more suited to the setting, not to mention set time.

 

With the exploits of the day prior having officially taking their toll, I snuck away back to my camp site for a late arvo nap. Timing was poor, and I missed Miles Brown. A past writer for the site had it pinned as ‘set of the festival’, and I do love a good Theremin.

Luckily, I was shaken awake somewhere in the early stages of friendships. I’ve always been a little ashamed of my inability to feel the same way about friendships as so many of my colleagues. It’s not that I’ve ever disliked them, they just haven’t really connected with me yet (wankerism #32). The last half of their set at Paradise was glorious. It was theatrical, it was heavy, it was near impossible to dance to. It felt abrasive, but not for the sake of being abrasive, and Nic Brown has unabashed stone-faced charisma. ‘When Feel Like Killing, I Murder’, with a little interlude monologue. Frighteningly powerful.

 

Being the band that, in many ways, sold me the ticket, I couldn’t help but feel a flurry of nerves as I waited for Gold Class to arrive. Would they disappoint me a la Chilli Peppers at BDO ’13, or would they triumph in the manner of Dizzee Rascal circa BDO ’10? Only time would tell.

Although they haven’t expressly vocalised it, I feel that strength of live performances must be a significant category in Paradise’s booking process. To one who had never seen Gold Class perform live, they were perhaps unusually placed on the lineup, in their rock-centric manner. However, Adam Curley’s mean, disaffected presence on-stage coupled with Evan Purdey and Jon Shub storming about the stage makes for a serious live show, one that is so gloriously separate to the remainder of the fest. Curley’s style does lean towards the glory days of post-punk, without seeming overly derivative, and ‘Life As A Gun‘ is a steamer of a live track.

With mulled wine and consistent shit talking on the menu for the remainder of the night, I found myself surrounded by shivering bodies at the makeshift bar. It’s quite a redeeming feature of Paradise, to note that there is no demographic here. Perhaps it’s different at 5am in clubland, but right now I feel as though all worlds of musical musings have collected under one tent, to talk trash about very little. I hear conversations of Modern Family, Thirsty Merc, and a list of things that should be brought back in 2017. I learnt that planking is ready for a triumphant return, and strangely felt completely at home.

 


Ripe Music
sarahchavphotos@gmail.com

Australia's best new music.