Stashed away in the mountains, boutique music festival PARADISE stole the hearts and minds of many over the last weekend of November. With a line-up overflowing with left of field artists who were more than ready to party, and scenery that you will be dreaming of for years to come, it was without a doubt that this was a weekend that couldn’t be missed.

The first hints of the festival came early on the Friday afternoon, as half constructed campsites were teased with the basslines of ALTA, pulling the first few members of the audience to down the, later notoriously painful, hills to the outdoor stage.  The two piece set the scene well bubbling away on stage, and earning the grins of the audience with ease. Tiny Little Houses followed, and with their trademark washed out indie rock they were perfectly suited to the setting of the stage, with groups of people spread out across the hill drink in hand grooving away with comfort.

A set from Broadway Sounds kept the onstage energy high, their catchy but irrelevant pop style being easy to dance along to make them a bundle of fun, revealing that they really are a perfect live act, even if the content of their music is remarkably non-existent.  It was by the end of this set that the trend for the night was set, stuck in the valley surrounding the stage, the crowd were caught up by blisteringly cold weather, unable to feel your fingers, people were huddling up, stacking on the layers, and in one impressive case dancing around with socks on their hands. It was almost too cold to function, yet the bands kept the energy high. Sets from The Infants and Jaala kept the party going, but it was Lurch and Chief who were next up to steal the show. How they managed to fit all of their six members on the smallest stage floating around is a only the first of the many miracles set by the band. The audience, now filling the better part of the space provided bustled away with ease to the soul filled pop provided and it wasn’t difficult to understand why they are rapidly becoming a household name.

As the clock closed in on striking 12, things started to get heavy on the Paradise stage, with Black Cab, a three piece who provide remarkably few live shows for fans proceeded to play out one of the most intense sets of the weekend. There was no crowd interaction through the set, rather letting their unforgiving industrial production lead the show. Now competing with the Clubland stage, it was impressive that the crowd lingered for Black Cab’s set, given the still draining cold weather, yet it is a testament to the quality of the set. Following on from that was Roland Tings, who in the worst way possible was exactly what you could have expected. The technical production behind his material was great to witness, yet much like his music the set failed to ever gain that hook to really win its way into the minds of the audience.  The Clubland stage kept the night going long into the morning, with dj sets from a wide range of artists. The setting felt almost generically club like, but was an excellent way to keep the party going, and hearing snippets of recognisable material from Catlips, Friendships and Cassius Select cut through the vibes to bring joy to those who recognised the cuts.

The Saturday started almost unforgivingly early, with Melbourne boys Neighbourhood Youth opening up the stage. The audience may have been small, but the band was perfectly committed to the performance and it was impossible to deny they are well worth watching in the future. The early afternoon was a struggle for many, no one quite having the energy to move after the night before, but the motivation to maintain the party was held by all who did make it down. Things picked up when Habits hit the stage, seemingly oblivious to the total fire ban in the region, they set the show stage alight with matching orange hair and a non-stop run of electrifying beats, all tied together by the pairing of the duets haunting vocals. It was a shame that this set in particular wasn’t given the night time treatment it really deserved.

Over the evening guests were graced by back to back sets from The Harpoons and Dorsal Fins. The pair were perfectly matched, The Harpoons had the audience positively buzzing around the hype of their set, and short of the new material they showcased, sing alongs occurred to most material. Dorsal Fins were possibly the unsung heroes of the afternoon, the eight piece were having a riot of a time on stage, with members climbing speaker stacks, and in one instance the scaffolding of the stage, creating the sense of joy that was quite simple infectious.

As the afternoon shifted into evening, Tired Lion came on stage, and it was made abundantly clear why they were they are in such high demand. Tearing through an impressive set that spun through their EP, they left no room for doubt. The performance style was simple, and they joked about not being the cool rock star type, but by the end of the set they’d had clothing thrown on stage, and an audience painted with grins. The grungier side of PARADISE was maintained when Darts came on stage, with the five piece letting off an unrelenting set. The way in which the band managed to juggle various styles dependent on vocalist, all whilst providing a tightly held together sound was impressive and one of the more fun sets to watch for the night.

Black Vanilla kicked off the start of the true late night experience, drawing in one of the biggest crowds for the weekend for what was one of the most questionable sets around. Whilst the beats provided, and on stage antics were fantastic, they were plagued by a single overwhelming issue. The lyrics, it was irksome how child like the verses were and no matter how much you were enjoying bouncing along, every time you heard a line, or in many cases realised you were singing along, you just felt ridiculous, because they simply were.  As the Paradise stage closed off to sets from Kirkis and 0.1, the Clubland had the dancefloors heaving, with sets from Deer and Null amongst others providing a series of quality mixes giving everyone present at least something to have a groove to.

It can’t be said that Paradise was without flaws, at times the mainstage was a little too loud, and sometimes set times felt a little questionable, but as a whole it was a weekend that cannot be missed. The line-up had a diversity that is hard to find these days, yet was tied together by astounding performances and a communal curiosity that allowed for the weekend to become a showcase of what we should be looking out for in the future.


By Ayden Measham-Pywell

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