20 Dec A Community That Challenges and Informs – Off The Grid 2017
Words & Photos // Blake Creighton
A festival dedicated to zero emissions, zero waste and one that runs 100% on solar power, Off The Grid preaches a future of sustainability. It prompts the belief that as humans we can collectively piece together our skill sets, ideas and characteristics to create a community that challenges and informs. Plus, music.
Such topics discussed in the morning talks were; sustainability in your local community with Allison Rowe, Kate Nicolazzo, Michelle Isles and Taryn Lane, sustainability within business with Michael Alyisse, sustainability within construction with Prof. James Murray Parker, Dr. Jackson Clarke, Adam Styles and Prof. Yu Bai, and sustainability and Indigenous heritage with Linda Jackson. All of these talks where not limited to only sustainability, with each addressing critical discussions, and all of them leaving the audience well informed.
Jaala vs Man, perched behind her laptop and pieces of hardware, through droning synth, swirling ambience and field recordings, enclosed those who sprawled themselves underneath the solar panel stage design and beamed us up into space. For twenty odd minutes, whilst working challenging yet melancholy soundscapes, she had us orbiting through deep, dark space before strong screeching sounds had us pummelling back to the dusty gravel setting of the VCAA.
Dianas tenderly moved from electronic ambience to gracious indie rock. Rickety guitar, rhythmic bass, percussion and gleaming joint vocals harmoniously resonated throughout the small courtyard, accidentally interrupting the talks going on behind — the only incident of the day.
A trickle of punters waltzed through the gates as the second allocation of tickets allowed people in from 1pm to be apart of the remaining four hours of talks and ten hours of music.
Local favourites and down right gifted musicians Krakatau had the afternoon sunshine and near lush settings (all we needed was some greenery below our feet and in our peripherals) to themselves for a strong 45 minutes. Evocative saxophone, melodic synths, humble bass and teasing percussion worked the airwaves and settled the many who congregated in mere relaxation, in preparation for more dance unified music to stream out of the speakers.
Chee Shimizu’s tribal percussion fuelled the empty dance floor, building a set around left-field rhythms and sounds. The Japanese born DJ settled into his hour and a half as if it were an all day set, graciously weaving experimental tracks that created a vibrant dance floor.
Kaiit, with support from a bass, guitar, piano, percussion and three backing vocalists was entertaining to say the least. Her charisma and vocals encapsulated an atmosphere yet to be explored throughout the day. Tender Hip-Hop rhythms and sounds backed Kaiit’s phenomenal singing, before experimental house, techno and disco were to form a dance floor as the sun pierced through the solar panels above.
Melbourne’s own Toni Yotzi buckled everyone in for the next hour and fifteen minutes. She worked through dance heavy and eclectic percussive grooves, acid synth lines and intriguing melodies, all of which were, aside for a couple moments of wonkyness, mixed organically. Pacing herself and working the gathering crowd, the evening sun shimmered with our bodies and a transgression from dance floor four by four beats into eccentric disco came just in time for Sydney’s Ben Fester to see us through a sunset.
Track in track out, flowing off of Yotzi, Fester continued the rhythmic and eccentric grooves. Not conforming to any set genre and playing up to the now bustling crowd’s energy, a concoction of near flawless mixing and charisma paid respects to the last rays of sun that supplied the day’s electricity.
As the solar panels’ day of work harbouring the festival’s energy was done, so was Ben Festers, and Jay Daniel took the decks to close out the now crisp evening. Daniel is house music. And he is good house music. Just after a day of a mixed genres it was difficult to be engaged by the seamless four by four percussion and earthy bass. Welcomed by the majority however, and fuelling a riveting dance floor, Jay Daniel spurred the party on and closed Off the Grid in his own way.