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Review: The Shine On Festival

 
Mother Nature was rather disagreeable dealing out a full hand of rain, cold, wind, and an immeasurable amount of mud in the beautiful setting of Lexton, Victoria for The Shine On Music Festival.The long rolling hills were carpeted in green grass and speckled with spectacular trees over 300 years old. About 3,200 people were through the gate on Friday November 21, ready to forge on for the weekend.
 
Many came to see the talented headliner Fat Freddy’s Drop and other bands like Sola Rosa – both from NZ. There was also a contingent of local Australian bands such as Tijuana Cartel, Mista Savona, and Fyah Walk – bands that all can be said to produce fantastic rhythm and beautiful vocal harmonies. Others were there to see the amazing lineup of electronic acts from Melbourne and all over the world such as Ill Gates, Son Kite/Minilouge, Mimosa (missed his flight), Opio and Slieker, to name a few
 
Upon arrival at the festival grounds there was positive attitude towards the weather clearing up… there was a general hope that the rain would pass and a possible sign of this was not just one rainbow but a double rainbow stretching the entire sky right before sundown. The original rainbow was so vibrant that it looked liked skittles were going to pour out of it, and we thought that just maybe, just maybe this rainbow meant sun shiny weather and clear skies; instead it was just mother nature teasing us.Shortly after the rainbow disappeared, the rain started.
 
We set up camp quickly and headed out to the Tower Stage with its innovative visualizations to see Gavin Martin and then later Simon Slieker. Hailing from Melbourne and its thriving electronic scene they both brought thick progressive music and banged out two great sets to a small but very engaged crowd. The thin crowds all weekend made it a little difficult for the DJs but Slieker did his job and had us all dancing with some pounding tribal beats.
 
We were just beginning our adventure with getting our “footing” and groove on in the mud. The Australian doof/festival is famous for stomping and connecting to the land but this weekend we needed to disconnect our selves from the mud to properly stomp.
 
After a great night in the mud orchestrated by some of Melbourne’s finest, our hearts were certainly pumping to keep us warm while we slept. Saturday morning (noon is a great morning) was again cold, but coffee and chi tea from the Holy Cow, a festival mainstay, hit the spot to warm the bones. Bass Bin Laden did the same with proper music for a good morning dance at the Market Stage.
 
As our legs began to get a little more accustomed to the mud we trudged on to the chunky bass lines put down by DOV, Ill Gates, and personal favorite Spoonbill who each delivered their own version of hip hop, psychedelic, bass-injected, eclectic, dub step into the early evening.
 
After the thumping afternoon was over and a stop off to listen to OKA and the trance infused didgeridoo, we were off to the Tower stage. DJ Emok was a great lead in to Son Kite, who proved to be mud’s worst enemy with their barrage of stomping beats. This duo of producers was uniquely set up on a second level of the stage. The stage was like a dark temple of pulsating progressive goodness sprinkled with complex live brain teasers devised by the two glowing apple computers. At times the rhythm was so fast but the bass lines so long that the sounds and vibrations were coming out of the Funktion One speakers like needles of pleasure and waves of positive energy.
 
After battling the constant cold rain all day and into the night across the entire festival I was ready for Fat Freddy’s Drop’s unique blend of dub, reggae and body moving music at the main stage. The cold rain grew colder as we waited into the late night with the band taking the stage after an hour and half delay. Spirits were still high, however, and excitement was in the air as Fat Freddy’s delivered a great set, but not one for the setting. The track selection was a little slow for the freezing bodies that so desperately needed to move to stay warm.
 
That was where Opio stole the night, and perhaps the weekend with his barrage of boom-bat-boom-bat feet attacking beats. Given his diverse take on dance music, Opio graced us with some well selected MCing and live synth. The three musicians on stage grinded it out for the masses in the mud, keeping our blood flowing and bodies warm, as the cold rain continued to fall. We were soon ready for slumber.
 
Sunday morning (9.30am, a little early, but about time for church) was slow, wonderful. Festival goers meandered about dressed fashionably yet comfortably warm, enjoying a toasty or an egg and bacon roll from a local charity food stall, relishing conversations, connections, and laughter; demonstrating why Shine On and other festivals like it provide the perfect ambience, openness, and good vibe that facilitate new friendships to form.
 
Throughout the day you could see and feel the mass exodus from the festival grounds. The mud was so deep that the organizers of Shine On, who get a pat on the back, a high five, and hug for pulling this one off, hired tractors to tow each car out, one by one. By early afternoon the crowds at both stages were sparse but happy and excited for the great music that was lined-up for the closing of Shine On. At the tower stage the hardened crowd danced deep in the mud and puddles with smiles elevated to the heavens to the likes of DJ Zombi and Pig And Dan who banged out strong deep sets. At the market stage Fyah Walk and Gangi Girl played fun up-beat groove music for the puddle lovers. Minilogue closed out the festival with a live set crossing musically boundaries and connecting deeply the psychedelic music of Pink Floyd. Their set was slow at first, but beautiful non-the-less. They ended it properly with bass that made the mud jiggle, the puddles ripple and smiles soar.
 
Looking back, there was something at Shine On for everyone and whether you were there to see Blue King Brown and the bands or Son Kite and the beats, we all pushed forward and danced to have a great weekend despite the elements. Braving the rain, cold, and mud, we all embraced the insanity of extreme elements to enjoy the groundbreaking music, delicious food, beautiful people; and got our swamp on at Shine On.
 
Peter Devine.