Party In The Paddock’s final hurrah was one for the ages.
Flying down dirt roads through the Tasmanian countryside, it was hard to believe we were heading to a festival rather than an isolated nature retreat.
For the last eight years, White Hills in Tasmania’s north has been home to the annual Party In The Paddock. What started off as a raucous 21st birthday party quickly grew into one of Australia’s most celebrated festivals, and people have been flocking from around Tasmania and beyond for the three-day revelry ever since.
But sadly, all good things come to an end, and so it goes for Party In The Paddock. The team announced that the 2020 event would wrap things up, so we decided to grab our gear and head along for the last hurrah.
After wrestling with the tent, picking up wrist bands and trying to locate friends with dodgy reception, it was time to check out the Vibestown area. It was like the calm before the storm, with only one paddock open for the eager punters who’d purchased a three-day ticket. The iconic Vibestown stage sat ready and waiting for a thrashing, with PITP alumni Dear Seattle set to really kick things off.
“We love coming down because it feels like you’re so appreciated for taking the time and effort,” vocalist Brae Fisher told us before their set. “Everyone just treats you so well and they actually care and it’s so communal.”
“You can tell it’s put on by people from Launceston who just care about music.”
The band were visibly excited about their return to the Tassie festival, and the crowd were just as happy to see them. They launched into a crowd churning rendition of ‘Maybe’ followed by other tracks from their catalogue and a cheeky cover of Missy Higgins’ ‘Special Two’. The boys toned it down for a touching tribute to Fisher’s late father with the song ‘I Keep Dreaming’, before amping up again for a massive finale.
Odette was next, providing a change of pace to the wild rock’n’roll before her. It was a fitting scene for the setting sun, with her angelic vocals echoing around the landscape as the light dipped to dark.
This sway in style was the trend for the night, with The Chats providing belters like ‘Smoko’, ‘Pub Feed’, ‘The Clap’ and ‘Identity Theft’ to a rollicking crowd, before pop queen Jack River swooped in to close the stage, sending everyone off to bed with dreams of Sugar Mountain.
Rolling out of tents and stumbling bleary-eyed for coffees and hangover food, the previous days’ revellers were easy to spot among the fresh newcomers. The second field containing the Paddock stage and circus-style Big Top stage were now open, offering a sprawling new space to dance in and explore.
It was a cruisy start, with Tassie six-piece Little Island hitting the Big Top, shortly followed by The Vanns just a stone’s throw away on the Paddock stage. With the sun beating down, everyone was scrounging for shade; people lined up along the fence line taking whatever respite they could.
Byron Bay boys Tora turned up the heat even more, followed by Mahalia who brought fire to the stage with breakup anthem ‘I Wish I Missed My Ex’. It wasn’t until late afternoon that crowds were given a cool, refreshing serve of Lime Cordiale, making their PITP debut.
“People are very enthusiastic, very wild, normally pretty drunk at our shows,” the duo told Beat before their set. “It’s a very visually active crowd.”
They weren’t wrong. As soon as the boys stepped onto the stage, the crowd was in a frenzy that lasted their entire set. ‘Robbery’, ‘Inappropriate Behaviour’ and ‘Money’ were met with screams and singalongs, while people hoisted friends onto shoulders and the mosh pit swirled.
Brisbane darling Mallrat kept the vibes high with her sugary pop-slash-hip-hop catalogue. She was joined by friend and successful soloist in his own right Tyne-James Organ, while her own personal hype woman played disc jockey on the decks.
Up next were Dune Rats, PITP regulars who played a belter of a set. Anyone who’s seen Dunies live will know they deliver some serious energy onstage, and always whip out a surprise or two. In this case, it was an appearance from Spiderbait’s Kram, who shredded with the guys before they snapped a pic for singer Danny Beugs’ mum and left the stage.
Cosmo’s Midnight ploughed through an upbeat set with Tasmanian local Asta, who lent her powerful vocals to tracks like ‘History’ and ‘Walk With Me’, before DJ duo In The Flowers closed out the mainstage with a slew of classic dance bangers.
The hidden gems of the night were in the Big Top tent, however: an Adelaide twosome by the name of Hartway. With one on the decks and the other slaying the saxophone, these guys had the partiers well and truly boogieing into the night.
The final day of the final Paddock had finally arrived. Dusty revellers pulled themselves together for one last massive day, ready to give the beloved festival a fitting send off.
The Big Top was the place to be at midday, with Hobart band Chase City delivering an electrifying set. Arguably one of the states’ best musical exports, the boys weren’t holding anything back and the hungry crowd were loving it. With a Northeast Party House vibe, the guys had bodies moving like it was the end of the night rather than the start of the day, bringing even the most hungover back to life.
These New South Whales and Press Club ramped things up on the mainstage, with back to back sets of pure energy. Press Club vocalist Natalie Foster was ever the rockstar, launching herself into the moshpit to the crowd’s delight.
All the costumes of the festival came together for the Vibestown march, a procession of colourful characters showing off their handiwork. Brides, the Avatar, Teletubbies and a giant papier mache shark wound their way through the paddocks, finishing up at the stage in time for Confidence Man.
Decked out in their own costumes, the dancing duo did not disappoint. They whipped the audience into a frenzy as they whirled, twirled and crumped onstage, with Sugar ceremoniously popping a bottle of champagne during ‘C.O.O.L Party’.
Sneaky Sound System continued on with the party vibes, playing old school classics like ‘UFO’ as well as newer releases, before Broods threw some pop into the mix. The New Zealand pair garnered singalongs for ‘Peach’ and ‘Bridges’, keeping the crowd on their toes for the impending arrival of Matt Corby.
Corby’s 10pm time slot was maybe a little odd considering the chill tone of his music, but nobody seemed to care. What he lacks in performer confidence, Corby well and truly makes up for in vocal ability, and his soulful voice carried songs from his Rainbow Valley catalogue through the paddock and surrounds.
HyperParadise boys Hermitude woke everyone from their trance with a killer set of crowd thumpers. The duo played a lot of tracks from their 2015 repertoire, but there was nothing old or dusty about them. The PITP team flooded the stage for the last song, before Festival Director Jessie Higgs bode a bittersweet farewell to the event they’d built from the ground up all those years ago.
Ninjarachi played out the mainstage, while over in the Big Top Akouo was laying down the final tracks of the night. Refusing to go to bed until the dancing was done, the final PITP crowd rallied themselves to the bitter end, sweating and swaying into the early hours of Sunday morning.
PITP is one of those rare events that creates a community which involves everyone there, from artists to organisers, punters to staff and security. What started as a birthday party still very much maintains this vibe – just with an extra few thousand people. The end of PITP will undoubtedly leave a hole in the Tasmanian music scene, but with such a vibrant, enthusiastic and talented young music community, it won’t be long ‘til something just as amazing pops up in its place.
Highlight: Hermitude’s send-off set, Hartway’s insane saxophone playing, Chase City warming up the Big Top. Too many to count, really.
Lowlight: Having to farewell the festival.
Crowd favourite: Again, too many to count, but Lime Cordiale had one of the loudest crowds.