Strawberry Fields simply threw itself a big 10th birthday celebration, and for sure, it was a business success. I first attended Strawberry Fields Festival in 2013 once I was the ripe outdated age of 19. I went again to The Wildlands in 2014, 2015 and 2016 – I say this as a result of I wish to communicate on good authority and clarify what’s modified at Strawberry.
I first heard concerning the pageant from an excellent pal of mine in 2012. Psy-trance was the principle focus then, and techno was beginning to make its manner into the Australian public’s eye. I declined the invitation because the pageant appeared too daunting for me, however was lured into the 2013 version once I noticed that KiNK was taking part in. The pageant blew my thoughts and opened my eyes and ears to a brand new manner of listening to and experiencing music. I had by no means heard music on audio system that tingled each part of my physique in such a manner.
The different vital factor that I took away from the pageant was the vibe that crowds introduced in; an vital level which I’ll come again to later. The crowd was a loving bunch, a crowd who would say hello and provide you with a high-five and a hug as you stroll previous. You genuinely felt the loving presence of the viewers. They introduced an power to each set that the DJ’s and performers labored with. Not solely that, however the crowd was diversified. The psy-trance group had been the bulk group, adopted by a variety of people that engaged with the underground home and techno scene. People had been there for the music and to bop their brains out.
All in all, 2013 was a superb pageant. From there, 2014 was a significant step up, at some extent the place the pageant’s musical focus was shifting in direction of home and techno, and shifting away from psy-trance. 2015 was a really massive step past the scope of 2013, and I believe this was due to the hype surrounding the earlier years, in addition to how they marketed the pageant. 2016 introduced a really noticeable distinction in crowd demographics and music style. Psy-trance was elusive and never as soon as performed on the principle stage. I had my inkling that the pageant was turning into one thing else in 2015, however 2016 confirmed that. I had plenty of enjoyable in any respect festivals from 2013 via to 2016. An abroad journey meant that 2017 was off the books for me, however I believed I’d come again to The Wildlands after studying concerning the stellar lineup that was supplied for the 2018 version. My small crew and I set out and made the journey to Tocumwal as soon as once more. The sights on the drive north had been all too acquainted, with every passing landmark making you all of the extra excited. Upon arrival at The Wildlands, we bunked ourselves into the principle tenting subject and erected our dwelling for the weekend.
The tenting has modified at Strawberry over time. The 2013 and 2014 campsites had been kind of a free-for-all amongst the gum bushes and bushes. Understandably with a much bigger crowd, you’ll want to implement some tenting logistics. 2018, whether or not due to our arrival time or due to the pageant’s schematics, had us camp in extraordinarily dusty open fields. Despite the perfect efforts of water vans, the mud was typically overwhelming. This isn’t a jab on the pageant, and nobody can management the widespread results of a rustic in drought, however I do miss tenting among the many bushes that made the Wildlands so iconic. In any regard, it was a pleasant level of distinction.
Friday night time was what I used to be wanting ahead to probably the most. Sasha, Peter Van Hoesen, and DJ Nobu had been to offer the sonic output. I contemplated over whether or not or not the gang had been going to have the ability to palette the forthcoming music. As quickly as Sasha took management of the decks, after a wierd half-an-hour delay, he had the gang shifting in a manner that the DJ prior too wasn’t capable of do. Needless to say, Sasha performed the sundown time slot to perfection. As quickly because the solar had vanished and the sky glowed, he elevated the strain on the gang. An hour and a half isn’t lengthy sufficient for Sasha to play; I really feel like he required a minimum of three to 4 hours to essentially construct one thing particular. After a pit cease to camp, our crew got here again for Peter Van Hoesen. I hope the gang’s collective thoughts was totally blown as a result of he placed on a techno masterclass. He has a particular place in my coronary heart due to his 2015 Strawberry set, which myself and everybody in attendance will keep in mind as an absolute masterclass. The man simply is aware of how one can DJ and work a crowd. I knew what Peter was able to, and he definitely didn’t disappoint. By this stage I didn’t care what the gang was pondering, all of us simply grooved collectively.
DJ Nobu elevated the sonic strain on the gang, and gave a lesson in techno soundscapes. The music reduce out midway via the Japanese DJ’s because of generator points, a lot to the shock of each DJ Nobu and the viewers. Once issues had been again so as, Nobu continued to rock out on the decks. I really like the best way he strikes with the music. He’s so bodily concerned within the mixing course of. I had a hole feeling when the music stopped as a result of for me personally, I knew there was nothing that would prime what we had simply seen. Strawberry Fields since 2016 has taken on a wierd format, the place the music decreases in depth till the closing set of the pageant, and I hoped that Friday wouldn’t be the beginning of this downward slide.
By far and away, Strawberry Fields has the perfect location of all the big Australian Festivals for one easy motive. The mighty Murray River. There couldn’t be a greater approach to throw off the hangover from the earlier night time than swimming in a superbly tempered freshwater river, and paddling within the present. Having a stage positioned straight on the river solely heightens the expertise. Needless to say, the seashore stage was a crowd favorite for a day-boogie. The spotlight of Saturday night time for me was the Deep Jungle stage. The stage itself was by far probably the most putting and thoughtfully designed of all of them. Its floor and design mirrored the patterns of the large gum bushes that surrounded the stage. It sounded good too. Very good.
Some standouts from the stage had been Pearson Sound and DJ Seinfeld, however HAAi was greatest on floor for me. Her set sound stood out amongst DJs just like the stage itself stood out amongst the design of the others. Her power behind the decks complimented her set, as her energetic and rhythmic motion mirrored a sure degree of enthusiasm to the viewers. Upon cruising over to predominant stage to see Heidi, we seen that DJ Seinfeld and HAAi had management of the decks. The motive stays unknown to me nonetheless, however the two did an excellent job to cowl the set. Although the power of the music wasn’t fairly the identical as they performed on Deep Jungle, the gang had been nonetheless into it. My buddies and I actually explored the tree-covered gully near the river on Saturday night time. We noticed stay bands, dance routines and loved a stunning moonlit beer sat subsequent to the Murray River. Sounds all so romantic no? Most individuals had been on the levels, so you would actually simply loosen up and benefit from the firm of your mates with good music.
Come Sunday, the dip within the Murray was important. Days of mud and dancing had been beginning to take a toll. The predominant stage held host to all an important of songs, singing glad birthday to the pageant, nonetheless, there was yet another essential act to see: Carl Craig. Carl performed again in 2013, which was my first encounter with the Detroit lord. Having seen him once more at Let Them Eat Cake, I used to be moderately eager to see him a 3rd time. What occurred simply earlier than Carl’s set confirmed the suspicion that I held towards the gang. Allow me to elucidate. Honey Dijon, who, it needs to be stated performed an aesthetic set, was chatting with the gang after her set, hyping up the approaching Carl Craig. The crowd was simply not responding to it. The very last thing she stated was “y’all ain’t shit”. To a sure extent, I agree with what she stated. The crowd didn’t know who Carl Craig was, the legacy that he carried behind him or his talent. Carl took again the mic, awkward laughed it off, and started his pretty closing set. It began with some soulful disco classics, nearly as if educating the gang as to the roots of dance music. Half-an-hour in and he lastly let unfastened the facility of the subwoofers positioned at his ft. He had entranced the gang and had us all dancing to our coronary heart’s content material for the rest of the afternoon.
What occurred with Honey Dijon’s little quip highlighted to me simply what kind of crowd got here to the pageant this yr. Another prepare of thought can be that the microphone shouldn’t have been there within the first place, and the music ought to have simply been the main focus. This is all very subjective, and I conform to sure extents with each of them, however it was nonetheless an odd second. So, the massive query is what’s modified about Strawberry Fields? Simple reply: lots. Strawberry began life as an out-and-out “doof”. It’s became a business pageant within the bush, and is in no way a “doof” anymore. How did this occur? The pageant slowly took goal at a special crowd via selling an general totally different fashion of music. 2013 noticed the mixing of the doofers with the underground techno and home group. 2015 noticed the doofers all however vanish from the scene and usher in a youthful crowd of people that’s style was way more slanted in direction of home and disco. 2018 introduced a crowd that simply wasn’t there for the music. You might simply inform by the best way they danced and their response when acts completed units. This is once more in no way a grievance, merely an commentary. The solely grievance I carried out with me is that the stage orientation was fallacious. Main levels had two different levels both facet of it, but all of them confronted the identical path. This meant that you would hear sounds from different levels interfering with the music coming from predominant. I’m undecided if there was a motive why it needed to be this fashion, however it affected the expertise.
To sum the weekend up, I really had quite a lot of enjoyable. This was as a result of I had nice firm, in addition to a serving of high quality music and a lovely pure setting. The pageant has simply modified quite a bit, and relying on which facet of the fence you sit on, this might both be an excellent or dangerous factor. I for one don’t suppose it appeals to me the best way it used to, however that’s okay as a result of my style in music and crowd has developed quite a bit since I used to be 19. I believe that for a number of the crowd who hadn’t skilled music in that form of setting, or who hadn’t been to a bush pageant earlier than, would have had an excellent introductory lesson to high quality music, and the kind of ambiance that the Australian bush pageant is well known for.
Thanks to Strawberry Fields for having me alongside and to Full Throttle leisure for offering the oomph.