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FAIRBRIDGE FESTIVAL

All Our Exes Live In Texas - Photography by Tamara Szep
All Our Exes Live In Texas – Photography by Tamara Szep

Pinjarra

Friday-Sunday, April 10-12, 2015

 

Fairbridge is probably one of the only festivals in WA than can attract a crowd that ranges from 4-84 years of age. It’s the only place that you will find a man old enough to be your grandfather rattling an egg shaker next to you in a moshpit.

This blatant disregard to appeal to a certain demographic means there is a bigger sense of community than at any other festival. Bare-footed mothers pushing strollers, kids with hats out busking on the footpath, more dreadlocks than at a Bob Marley tribute concert and that real country fresh air laced with eucalyptus and incense.

One the first day we found Tranquila, the relaxation area where festival-goers could get a massage or visit the Fairbridge Labyrinth to place a rock and a candle along the path.  The Ruby Stage And Bar was like entering the Secret Garden. With low hanging willow trees and fairy lights strung up everywhere, it was as though peace and tranquility were too hard to resist.

One of the first and most impressionable acts on Friday was the crystallised serenades of the all female quartet Co-Cheól. Playing in the chapel made the four appear angelic as they used body percussion to begin their set so simplistically, yet so holistically. With wave after wave of incredible harmonies, my goosebumps were later confirmed not be a result of the cold draft, but rather the perfect harmonies, as my friend sat next to me with tears streaming down her face. Stumbling upon Baka Beyond (UK) was the best mistake of the weekend; as we watched the yodeling tribal princess Su Hart take us through a set of world music in this colourful arrangement of jungle reggae and primal sounds. The audience mirrored Hart’s feet stomping, hip rotating and hair flipping which completely defined the idea of hessian people.

Hessian people are the organic and free spirited people of our community and can all be found at Fairbridge. The people running around in the mud with no shoes on; the people dancing when no one else is; the people who will stand around and converse with strangers for hours. I had a conversation like this with a stall owner on the performance of Kallidad. Upon this strong recommendation, we braved a light drizzle at the Youthopia stage as the Sydney boys mixed metal mariachi and flamenco. Their faces adorned with skull candy face paint, the band had an incredible effect on the audience with their audibly and visually seductive performance. The melody was considerably strong even without a vocal lead.

Preceding the Spanish enthusiasts, were Perth boys Nodes with a fresh and upbeat switch from the rest of the weekend. Playing on the Youthopia stage they attracted a major posse of adoring teenage girls and head banging boys. Even when they took it down from their fast paced crowd participation song, Huffin’ N’ Puffin’, everyone was still vibing to the slow bop tune Bonus Bonus featuring the sweet and sultry Stella Donnelly.  Props go to the frontman who maintained his poetic prowess along with the great sounding cajon and acoustic guitar.

Another act worth mentioning are the surprisingly clean cut Bearded Gypsy Band with a geekishly handsome lead singer/violinist, it was the kind of boot stomping, naughty Celtic/Gypsy music that had all ages jiving. Special commendation goes to the solid female drummer, Kyrie Anderson, who created some great dynamics even on brushes. One of the closing acts National Junk Band made me ask myself questions such as: Is that a French horn violin? Is he playing a water canister? Why is that man juggling chickens? Why is there an aluminum roof on the drummer? Where did the tuba come from? And why is the lead singer eating fire?

It would not be worth writing this piece if I didn’t mention All Our Exes Live In Texas. Crammed into the corner of a chapel pew, as the church filled to its utmost capacity, the four young beautiful Sydney women made the squeeze worth it.  They had us immediately eating out of their endearing little paws as they blew us away with their impeccable four-part harmonies. Their sound was both punchy and sweet and covered in lyrics you wanted to listen to because they told the most beautiful love stories. You were reminded of Elvis’ blues and ABBA’s pop with the piano accordion and tambourine respectively while also giving it that modern folk twist that was as easy to sing along to. The cute, cheeky jokes, the bubblegum soprano, the warm and reverberating sound made this flawless quartet one of the stand-out performances for everyone this weekend.

As a whole, it was a most spiritual and enjoyed festival that saw its muddy patrons returning home with a sense of rejuvenation and a reawakening in their connection to the earth and the music.

 

MIA CAMPBELL-FOULKES   |  Photography by Tamara Szep

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