In the dry landscape saddling the Victorian NSW border, festival goers were blessed with beautiful skies, an intermittent cool breeze, and, the godsend for humans that go bush – a freshwater beach, namely ‘Playa Del Murray’. Fulfilling her purpose so eloquently, our Murray delivered life and energy to the festival which, in it’s 9th year of operation, continues to grow from strength to strength. This year, dancing between house and techno to disco and dub – there was something for everyone at Strawberry Fields 2017.
Joining the festival from abroad was Extrawelt, Daniel Avery, Peggy Gou and Optimo to name a few. Beloved record label, Rush Hour, delighted crowds Sunday afternoon, celebrating the label’s 20th year birthday with Antal and Hunee following on from Sochi Terada’s energetic set to an ecstatic crowd. The trio closed the mainstage with a cake cutting ceremony and the euphoric crowd were aching for a slice. Local legend’s such as Mall Grab, Sampa The Great, Total Giovanni, Harvey Sutherland & Bermuda and Yothu Yindi dominated the set times throughout the festival to a welcome reception.
Following our pre-Strawberry interview , the Dreamland team caught up with CC:Disco! after her 2 hour set at The Beach Stage (AKA Playa Del Murray) “The beach stage this year is next level”. “They have had me back here every year and they have treated me really well, so I am really thankful for that”. CC:Disco! was joined by Club Coco friends Simon TK and Chico G in a ‘b3b’ disco set.
“It’s beautiful, beautiful people and you know everyone’s smiling”.
There was a declaration of freedom at Strawberry Fields this year – a topical celebration of humanities weird and wild nature that the city and society suppresses. More is more. Doof sticks were a totem of utilitarian expression and socialisation on the dancefloor. Owen Wilson – WOW.
An admirable and unique initiation of Strawberry Fields Festival are the famed ‘Earth Warriors’. Through their relentless chanting of ‘The Clean Up Song’ this small unit of servicemen generated considerable curiosity about the crowd for the importance of the ‘leave no trace’ movement.
The amped-up representation of live instrumental bands was a show stealer, even amongst the big names in techno and house “there’s not much pressure here to play house or techno” CC tells us “we’ll give you a damn relief for the techno” (CC:DISCO!).
True to it’s ‘Wildlands’ title – Strawberry fields is an adventure the moment you pass through the gates. The festival isn’t set in a clearing as with larger doofs downunder, but rather embedded within the natural overgrown gum trees of the Murray riverside. No ‘street signs, little to no campsite lighting and stage settings built to blend with the very nature surrounding it.
As the day progresses, so does the light show. Emerging from the campsites, we’re struck by beams of light shooting from behind the crowds, silhouetted by the constant movement of traffic between the markets to the stages and campsites.
Market stalls are charged with a contagious energy matching their wild and wacky fabrics and vendors work in equal bliss to the passing punters who make for the stages.
Having patiently waited all weekend, market stall Aya Superfoods promptly unleashed their psy trance tunes to full volume when the mainstage wrapped Sunday night, reminiscent of Strawberry’s early roots. One passer by said “the tunes were so good I had to come in and buy something”. Adored local quartet, The Teskey Brothers, closed the Tea Lounge with a lively set.
What a weekend. Looking forward to celebrating 10 years in the Wildlands 16-18th November 2018.
Photo Credit: Adrien Rossignol