On Monday morning, we did the ultimate walk of shame: jungle edition. Twigs in hair, dirt in fingernails and covered in a thick layer of what can only be described as dusty film-slime, we emerged from the Victorian bush in a dazzle-daze, wondering what had just happened, wondering if it had happened at all.
It was outside a bakery in the closest town, Tocumwal, balls deep in a curry pie that it all came swarming back. The dancing, the dust, the hugs, the vibrance, the dense forests and most importantly, the music. If Strawberry Fields Festival was all a dream, then it was the most ridiculous kaleidoscope cheese dream I ever did have.
Being the 5th Anniversary of the 'Intelligent Dance Music' festival, challenges were undoubtedly on organisers to deliver a milestone event, converging the music and art spheres to deliver a weekend way beyond your average 'bush-doof'.
Toting a true bad-ass posse consisting of the most white and excitable kids Sydney has to offer, we arrived late on Friday evening, stumbling to put our tents together in the dark as we simultaneously stripped off in anticipation of surrendering to dance (I wasn't kidding about the white thing).
The festival boasted four stages, although more seemed to grow on the festival as it progressed (similarly to things to growing on my body - showering isn't part of general decorum in the Strawberry Fields). Each offered various acts contributing to a 24hour roster of styles which varied between house, electronica, experimental, cool progressive and shit which blew our minds. Featuring some of our favourite internationals inc. Tiga, Carl Craig and Microtrauma (disappointingly Nosaj Thing was a no show...), considerable love was also given to some smaller names who made some serious tracks in the dust. See below for our pick of best of the fest.
(White girl represent: Photo court. D. Hutchinson)
Quickly becoming enlightened in the Strawberry ways, we soon realised that this was not our average festival. No reception meant none of our beloved instagramming, and more to the point ostracised us as willing prisoners to the Strawberry land. At any singular point one had the choice to roll around in the dust, stomp feet as part of a 1000 strong collective, smoke sweet smoke from festival hookahs, have happy times in the tent of another, spew an expression on a 3x4 canvas, chase lasers or make out with serious hotties in a ball pit. You could also eat muesli bars by yourself in some grass, which I may have indulged in a few times.
Most importantly, the bullshit 'eat-sleep-rave-repeat' culture could not be found here. There were no roid heavy douchebags with sunglasses taped to their heads or hyperactive tweens posing for selfies. More importantly, there were no fights going down - or even any insinuations of angry or anti-social behaviour. The scariest thing that happened to me the whole weekend was being propositioned for a foursome by a guy wearing a dinosaur onsie in aforementioned ball pit. Even then, I was so chilled that I almost went for it...almost.
Disappointingly, it was found that a fair few left the festival still under the influence (read our report here). But inside the wall of trees it was more than serene, calling us to recall the big festival vs. small festival debate. This peaceful and interesting convergence of people made me question the fun-factor of larger festivals, wondering if they could satisfy the natural needs of the untameable raver. Increasingly, Strawberry Fields and other boutique music festivals such as this weekend's Subsonic and the fastly approaching Meredith are gaining serious local and national popularity. In this, one reaches a party-paradox in simultaneously wanting to share the experience with a plethora of others and wanting to keep it as a secret dreamscape experience, waiting for me and a select few other pseudo hippies in the forest forever.
Cut forward 10 hours as I deployed curry pie into my stomach and jumped in my friends dust-covered automobile as we reluctantly made the sneaky 11hour drive back to Sydney. Bones aching and ears ringing, yet genuinely hating on all we were returning to...except maybe a shower or five. Until next year, Strawberry Fields.
Stoney Road's Best of the Fest
Tiga: Left rendered speechless by his performance - then inspired to be extremely articulate a few days later, you can read about my Tiga experience here.
Moomin: Catering to the serious chiller in all of us, Moomin brought sounds as original and smooth as it's possible to be in the world of today. Perfect for scat children everywhere - and a bit of cheeky old school slow dancing.
E A V E S: Graduate from the schooling that is Triple J's Unearthed, I had to sneakily check up on this one. Perhaps a little intoxicated, I remember throwing my white girl arms up in the air with vivacity between 10-1am. Knowing Strawberry's not exactly perfect time scheduling, 10 minutes of Soundcloud sifting saw me stumble upon E A V E S with a subsequent 'Eureka!'
Tagged as an up and comer, he's worth a look fo sho.
Willow Beats: Another in the Trippy J Unearthed family, we all knew they'd rock (the way you rock 10 valium down - CHILLED), and they delivered. Happy days.
Jennifer Loveless: Poor Jen did not have the best set to work with, 10am Saturday morning. Even I had only stumbled to the festival grounds to wash the taste of canned spaghetti out of my mouth (dayum girl). She was playing to an audience about 11 heavy who were about 100% inebriated. Even so, the Toronto local was busting out some tasty beats - and I couldn't help but notice she was a total babe town.