Review: Strawberry Fields Festival 2016

Another Strawberry Fields festival ends for the year, leaving us with nostalgia, ever-lasting memories, muddy and stinky clothes and dirty, dirty lungs.

While each year of the festival seems to better than the last, 2016 truly exceeded expectations. For many Strawberry punters it was the best weekend of our lives but for many of the artists, the events that occurred during their sets became the most unforgettable moments of their careers yet.

Strawberry Fields 2016 featured a new initiative this year, allowing a number of patrons to purchase a car pass on the Thursday night. This meant that for those lucky ones who could get enough work off, they could arrive a day early to float around from the campsite to the tea lounge to listen to chill tunes including Ocean Alley and Chant Down Sound. These lovely early arrivals also ensured that they were able to set up the themed camps or tents for their friends to arrive the next day.

Friday afternoon really set the vibe for the rest of the festival at the Organic Audio Stage, which featured hundreds of Strawberry goers supporting their own local artists. An unforgettable moment was definitely Autosea‘s set with Mitchell Gee, Paul Lynch and Eskapet. Gee dropping Ghetto Kraviz (Regal Remix) with the enormous crowd throwing their arms up in excitement truly representing how Strawberry Fields is one of the best festivals where local Melbourne electronic DJs are as highly regarded and appreciated as huge international acts including Moodymann and Tom Trago.

Later in the evening, for those lucky ones who were able to find their way to the Grove Stage, they were able to enjoy local legends Lossless and Oscar Key Sung. These two have recently been collaborating so keep an ear and eye out for those two talents!

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Saturday morning started off super groovy with Dan Shake taking to the main stage, Wildlands at 9am. Eskys and doof sticks from all around were planted at the main stage for a long and very enjoyable day of fruity disco and groove tunes with a huge consecutive line-up of local legend Tornado Wallace, international Patrick Topping, Superflu and Sleep D. Superflu‘s set went down as a favourite for many, especially when he dropped Volkein.

Groovers were able to make their way to the beautiful landscape of the Murray River for the Beach Stage and enjoy Butter Sessions with DJ So, a very special guest all the way from Japan.

Tom Trago was a huge favourite for many with his very particular 80’s sounding synth-techno and not only did he have the crowd erupt in enjoyment, but even the security guarding the stage could not hold back from having a huge boogie. The scene of the Saloon Stage where he played was a great reflection of Aussie vibes, with lopsided saloons and sheds falling into the dirt and the decor being Aussie cork hats hanging in the trees.

Kudos also to Strawberry Fields who had an incentive of a $3 deposit for cups which meant that the beautiful Aussie outback could be kept as clean as possible.

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Stephan Bodzin wowed the crowd at the Wildlands stage with his smooth, groovy and dark techno for a set that won’t be forgotten if too much booze wasn’t consumed at that point of the night. Another memorable moment came in the form of a surprise set from DJ HMC,  the techno alias of more commonly known Late Night Tuff Guy who closed the main stage on Saturday night.

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For those who made it through the early hours of Sunday morning after Tom Trago, they were given a delightful treat. Paul Byrnes AKA Taul Paul treated the crowd with smooth acid jazz, playing an absolute piano classic, The Heart Asks Pleasure First, causing listeners to be given goosebumps.

Sunday arrived and so did the hot New South Wales sun, with the temperature hitting nearly a top of 40 degrees. As Strawberry lovers avoided cooking themselves, they danced along to one of Strawberry’s favourite repeated visitor, Moodymann. ‘If Only (Lehult)‘ by Liem was a crowd pleaser and his daughters, whose funky contributions are to fan themselves in time with Moodymann‘s beat, were really having to fan hard with the weather.

As the crowd wondered if it could possibly become any hotter, CC:Disco! took the stage. Special mention must go to CC:Disco! who has had a huge year, playing internationally at festivals including Dimensions in Croatia, and she mentioned as she came on stage that being a local to that area and playing after Moodymann would be a moment that she would never forget.

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Then came one of the most memorable moments of Strawberry Fields history: the sudden, unexpected sound of crashing thunder that struck upon everyone’s ears and the skies opened for a terrential downpour of rain, causing CC:Disco! to be covered by a tarp with the help of Move D in an attempt to continue to play for fans before all of her equipment was completely ruined and shorted. CC:Disco! said, “you guys were all there for me. Being a local and playing that set was something I’ll always treasure, I could see so many faces I know smiling back up at me! ALL MY SHIT IS RUINED/WATER LOGGED” she said, but to her, the set was everything.

The crowd stayed out in the rain and in true blue classic Aussie style, a huge eruption in unison started with the crowd singing an acapella version of ‘Hey Baby’, bellowing “Heeeey, hey baby! Ooh! Ahh!” by DJ Otzi. Not long after that, favourites Rhythm Section came on to the stage with Chaos in the CBD to save the day and the rain stopped so they created one of the most perfect moments of the festival, dropping Ruf Kutz‘s classic, ‘Sun After the Rain’ as the sun shined above us. Rhythm Section stated after the weekend that they believed the moment was heaven sent luck and will be remembered forever and ever. They definitely won’t be the only ones that forget.

Strawberry Fields Festival, you have truly outdone yourself again this year and we are counting down the days until next year.