Maitreya Festival @ Regional Victoria (06-09/03/09)

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Setting off towards the outback on a cool and overcast Friday morning, our internal anticipation was overflowing. Waving the concrete, traffic and people goodbye, we drove out of Melbourne and into fresh air. The rolling green hills towards New South Wales are beautiful, contrasting starkly with the fire ravaged areas of northern Victoria. The burnt savanna seems surreal, like we are privy to another planet. Heading towards the border with the wind in our hair, where the birds chirp high and the Murray flows free, our fantastic mood could not be shaken. With a four day psychedelic music extravaganza upon us we were anxious to get through the gates of the Maitreya Festival, a hop skip and a jump south of the Murray River.

Upon entering, after a good hour confused and lost, we were stoked to arrive to the venue, a bushy plateau of trees and sun-scorched earth. The friendly elderly hippie who greeted us ensured our warm inner glow was shining bright. Doing a lap around the campsite there was not too many party-goers as yet, probably because of the remote location and the late notice of directions. Nevertheless, we found a small alcove under a tree and that was to be our home for the next four days of fun, sun and debauchery. Meeting and greeting the neighbours was fun, and injected enough energy into us to set up our tents before sunset. What a glorious site, shards of light cascaded brilliantly through the leaves of the enormous Eucalyptus trees.

Making our way to the market area, there are plenty of stalls for sustenance, teepees for healing and meditation, and three main dance floors delicately and incredibly setup. Upon wandering, there were actually a few smaller setups that looked deserted, but would make for great entertainment later in the weekend. The Rocket Stage had an assortment of artists, including a 6 piece Latin Funk band. The Peace Pad Stage had lasers galore and a bouncy vibe, with full-on psytrance being blasted early on including a memorable set from Orpheus. Despite a few early technical difficulties, the organizers had everything under control and more people seemed to be appearing randomly out of the bushes. Friday night was a relaxed start to the weekend, with the music stopping at 2am to let all us Melbournites recuperate from the long drive. The vibe was still upbeat through the night, with drum circles and rogue stereo systems encouraging people to meet each other and amp up for the weekend of progressive that was upon us.

Being a predominantly progressive trance festival, I enjoyed the different tempo and vibe that Maitreya is fully unique in providing. I’ve never been to a festival with so much openness and happy vibes from people than Maitreya, probably speaking to half the crowd over the course of the weekend. At 2pm Saturday afternoon the official opening ceremony commenced, with marching bands of hippies playing drums and burning incense. After this the music started, and weren’t we thankful. It was a magnificent 30 degree plus day, and we frolicked with glee most of the day having water fights and listening to some great tunes. At around 7pm Deutronium came onto the biggest and most extravagantly set up stage at the festival, Maitreya stage. At this point the tempo was increasing and the energy building, Saturday night was ready to rock. Cruising over to the Peace Pad stage at around 10pm to check out the other artists, Elad was dropping some nice groovy tracks. Walking into the main tent in the centre of the festival there was an audio-visual and canvas’ setup, where I had an interesting chat with Morgan Lonsdale who showed me his video diary of his trip around Australia fully scored with his music, a great place to momentarily escape the chaos.

At 11:30pm the headliners started to come on, with Pleiadians pumping out an awesome set, taking us on a psychedelic journey through to Sunday morning. Now the dancefloor was getting hectic, with people coming and going, and adjusting to the darkness. I then ducked back to camp to maintain some composure before the sunrise and the monster Sunday morning lineup that was to come. With a beer in hand and a smile on my dial, I’m back at the Maitreya stage for Eat Static whose stage presence is always felt. Playing some weird trippy sounds to pumping progressive, his unpredictability had me shocked, in a good way. One of the great things about Maitreya was the long sets that the artists were organized to play, with many playing more than 2 to 3 hours. Then at around 8am Gaudium hits the decks, a personal favourite of mine and never having played in Australia before, I was stoked to see him. Playing some tracks from his album ‘So Called Life’, his driving melodic style was an explosion to the eardrums. Freq was next and built up the pace of the prog as the sun gave us all energy to keep pushing through. Getting our prog on with Symphonix was unbelievable, and my favourite set for the weekend. The way they pushed the envelope of sounds and kept the beat coming harder and stronger was intense. Playing a few songs from their recent album ‘The Wild Life’ was one of the highlights for me, completely mindblowing! Needing a well deserved break, I retreated for the shade and comfort of the trees for a few hours to recharge the batteries and take the opportunity to get to know some of the neighbours.

At 2pm Sunday a Melbourne local Sun Control Species graced us with his rhythm. Always coming up with new mixes his set flowed perfectly into another headliner and personal favourite, Antix. The progressive at this stage was coming so hard and fast that my mouth was becoming dry and my eyes were watering, good times. Taking a breather at the Peace Pad stage, the mood is serene and the people friendly. People are doing healing workshops at the teepees and generally fully enjoying the music, the weather and the people.

On Monday the music started at 8am with Input Output on Maitreya stage, with a great early start to the day. Grabbing some food from the stalls and enjoying a chai; its important to keep those energy levels to the max. The set from Shadow fx vs Tetrameth was tip top, two more Melbourne locals with a really psychedelic edge and shine to the basslines that really resonated with you. The afternoon started with one of the men I came to see, Neelix. A late addition to the lineup, his set was cruisey and bouncy, perfect for the fourth day of the festival. Dropping tracks from his recent album ‘Your Under Control’, his mixes were supreme. Then managing to catch a few tracks of True Lies, whose more housey inspired progressive was a perfect winding down set to the festival.

Maitreya Festival 2009 was one of the best festivals I have been to, due to the small nature of crowd and the incredibly friendly vibe. Also, the awesome prog had something to do with it! With rumours of the festival being cancelled up to the day before the start of the festival, perhaps some partygoers were discouraged from coming due to the unpredictability of the event and the long journey. But for those who did make the journey, it will live in our memories for a long time as a festival like no other. The mission of Maitreya is the Eternal Divine Path, and all who came walked that path and loved every minute of it.

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twisted_elegance said on the 7th Apr, 2009

great review!! truly was an amazing weekend!