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Event Review: Fri 27 Jan 2012 - Mon 30 Jan 2012
What is Rainbow Serpent Festival all about? Well, it is definitely more than a bush dooffing extravaganza, that is for sure. Being a first timer to the event, I was expecting to get down to business on the many dance floors from the get go. Instead, it was a steady progression of setting the Rainbow foundations solidly. Setting-up camp, meeting our neighbours, getting a feel for the place. With a four day festival, there is no rush to get busy, as it is all about taking your time to find yourself amongst the pool of Rainbow Serpent experiences.
There is a lot to take in on your first Rainbow unveiling. The many different Lifestyle Village tents, market stalls, international and national cuisine and various artwork on offer has you in amazement. With direct connection to the Dreamtime and Indigenous roots, there is something magical, spiritual and community gathering about this festival. But it is the people watching that is the most interesting. Rainbow Serpent houses all walks of life and you definitely feel welcome to be yourself.
Once the recce and camp set-up have been checked off your list, the next thing to do is sound out the line-up, stage orientation and get cracking. This is pretty hard to achieve when you have the Coco Poco Loco annual party flashing its pink bits in your face. This well renowned party, housed in a very sturdy marquee and laden with fine materials and carpets, almost makes you question whether you’ve shrunk and landed in I dream of genie’s magical bottle. Great music and a bar that offers a range of exotic concoctions on a donation system, mixed with enthusiastic party goers dressed in various ways of expressing pink, it is definitely hard to pull yourself away.
Having said that, with 5 stages to choose from, you are never short on finding an earthy dance floor to tickle your musical fancy. You find yourself bumping from one stage to the other without the hassle of fighting big crowds and instead, enjoying the journey, adorned with artwork that is on display in surprising ways. You can easily get lost in this wonderland, yet be not afraid because at every turn, there is something to go Wow over.
Musically speaking I would have to say my highlight was Dub FX. No, not because he is home grown but because his talent of live vocal recording and looping, mixed with soulful lyrics had me at the first beat. His musical recipe consisting of hip-hop, reggae and soulful ingredients are all of my favourite things so how could I not bop?! And let me tell you, he had a huge following in the Playground tent, filling it and spilling it forth. Another national DJ that set the scene was Nickoroll with good textured switch beats that kept the crowd tight, right until his set finished.
Other acts that caught my attention were, Secret Cinema, who revved us all with his funky techy sounds and Tsuyoshi Suzuki had to be another high, highlight with his intricate set, which also included some impressive remixes in their trance forms. Tsuyoshi definitely held the crowd with just the right amount of intensity.
DJ Koze did not disappoint with a well formulated set. Minimal tech sounds were abundant amongst periodical beat increases, just to get the crowd going.
If you need a break from the music and dancing there are plenty of things to do apart from having a break in your tent. Take a stroll down Lifestyle Village and take your pick of activities on offer; you can zen out in the Crystal Mandala tent, learn to make a head reef, undertake a tap dance or movement class, join in on a social media, indigenous elders or environmental lecture and if you really need to kick back and take a break, relax and put your feet up in the solar cinema and watch a movie.
Rainbow Serpent Festival has so much to offer that it is difficult to know where to direct your attention. I suggest you attempt to study the line-up prior to arriving, so you can make certain you see your top acts. Also make sure you are present for the opening ceremony as it really is a special event full of culture and a great way to kick the festival off. And the rest? Well, the rest of your time will be undoubtedly filled with many ‘Alice in Wonderland’ fantastic moments.
by Kathryn Jones