Shine On Festival @ Pyrenees Ranges, Victoria (26-28/11/10)

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Shine On promises to be a new kind of bush festival. The Rainbow Crew have expanded on the novelty of having a live music tent at a dance music festival, turning it into a full-blown main stage. Attracting such major artists as Fat Freddy’s Drop, and Blue King Brown.

Arriving at Shine On late Friday afternoon, our hearts sunk a little, as we looked toward the sky. The dark, grey, and bloated storm clouds rolling across the horizon were looking rather ominous. Luckily we were quick in setting up our campsite because, as if on cue, the rain proceeded to absolutely bucket down on us.

After the weather had settled into a steady drizzle, we thought it was time to check out the festival site. Walking into the Market stage area at night, the place had the look of a carnival designed by Tim Burton himself. Projected swirly patterns stretching over the area, added to the hypnotic effect. On the stage were the Chocolate Strings. A funk / soul band, who were keeping the crowd nice and warm with their infectious grooves.

Heading over to check out the Tower stage we were absolutely gob-smacked. The Rainbow crew had set up a huge rigging, projecting geometric shapes, and pictures onto the surface. A little similar to the now famous ‘Cube’ that French DJ Ettiene De’Crecy often takes with him on tour. This, combined with a ball-tearing sound system, perfectly suited the thumping progressive house beats provided by DJ Gavin Martin. The crowd danced away in the mud, blissfully unaware to the rain pelting from above.

One of the unexpected highlights of the festival, were The Wagons. Anyone who I had spoken to who had seen them live previously said they were a must see. So at 2pm on Saturday afternoon we all headed down to the main stage. As soon as The Wagons hit the stage we were all instantly lifted by their upbeat country-infused rock, and lead singer Henry Wagon’s extremely amusing stage antics.

Next act on the agenda was Son Kite, playing at the epic Tower Stage. The dance floor (like the rest of the site) was a bit of a soupy mess by this stage. Although one would have to say that nobody seemed to care too much! The vibe was extremely loose, and everyone was stomping and shaking their ass to the crunchy, and intense progressive beats spewing out of the massive sound system. Son Kite were on fire, and clearly relishing the audience interaction. Occasionally looking up from their gear, and smiling knowingly at the crowd below.

After the intensity of the Tower Stage, it was time to come back to earth a bit, and catch some of the blissed out grooves of roots reggae act Blue King Brown. If I wasn’t a fan of the band before the Festival, I most certainly was converted by their live performance at the main stage. Sporting a ten-piece band, complete with hip-swaying backing singers, and an amazing bass player. Lead singer (and multi-instrumentalist) Natalie Pa’apa’a gave thanks to the original inhabitants of the land before proceeding to transfix the crowd with her hypnotic dance moves, and soulful, powerful, voice.

Next up on the main stage were the undisputed heavyweight champions of the dub / reggae / ska scene: Fat Freddy’s Drop. Bringing along a ray of sunshine to a wet evening. FFD are brilliant musicians, and every band member got their turn with a solo. Even lead singer Dallas ‘Joe Dukie’ Tamaira got a go. Performing an amazing accapella, building the tension until the audience was quiet with awe. Just when everyone was beginning to wonder where it would lead, it lead into a bouncy ska number that had the crowd skanking along to the rhythms.

Getting back to the campsite by myself after their performance was quite the challenge. Most of the camping grounds were in complete darkness, and quite often I was almost waist deep in water. Luckily a community-minded girl waded past with a torch on her hat, guiding me to her campsite to dry off and get out of the rain for a bit, before heading back out to help find my campsite again. The most embarrassing part was that I took us on a complete circle of the camping grounds. Eventually realising that my tent was only several meters away from her van!

The Rainbow crew had the foresight to create a bush festival that caters for the eclectic music fan. This combined with the extremely high production values, and the extremely friendly people typical of a Rainbow festival, made it rise above the weather conditions to be a truly memorable time. Here’s hoping it’ll Shine On a little bit more next year.

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