RAIN DANCE FESTIVAL @ Boddington gets 8/10

Rain Dance @ Boddington
Friday August 9 – Sunday, August 11

Perth is no stranger to the concept of outdoor music festivals. And in recent past, the country’s war on festivals (most notably in NSW) has seen EDM festivals begin to fall off the radar in most states across Australia. In the wake of a declining industry, illegal festivals began popping up all over the country, and what once were seen as raves or “bush doofs” began ascending from the depths of the underground music scene and stepping out into the light rebranded as “Music, Arts & Lifestyle Festivals.”

One such event was Pulp Glitchin’s inaugural Rain Dance Festival, which took place a couple of hours outside Perth on a beautiful private property on the first weekend of August. Having experienced my fair share of illegal EDM parties in WA, my expectations were somewhat clouded by previous encounters with the local Perth “bushdoof” scene. However upon entering the festival site, I was met with slightly different scenery.

The site, near Boddington in the Peel region, was a vast open space with expanding views of the hills and fields beyond, and although there was a slight hike down to the main-stage area, the views at both sunset and sunrise were majestic.

The Friday night began almost like a warm up for people to relax into the weekend, with a side stage set up beside a market style area with hot food and comfy spaces for people to slowly ease their way into the festival spirit.

The first night brought with it a foreshadowing of what was to come, including one of the most bitter colds I think Western Australia had to offer as people huddled around fires and campsites waiting for the sun to break through and burn off the frost which covered the festival site as Saturday morning approached.

As day two got into full swing, people began to settle into the daytime vibes as event organisers began readying for what had been planned to be a much bigger second night to follow on from the previous one.

However as the afternoon wore on, it was clear the reality of throwing a local music festival and the issues that come along with it began to creep in. The main-stage set up went on until the sun had nearly begun to set, with decor and lighting being worked on as the party carried on around it. As Saturday night began, the number of people had nearly doubled, and any doubt the party would be affected by the earlier issues was all but gone from the minds of crew members and punters alike.

With headliners such as Melbourne psy-trance artist Terrafractyl, Staunch, and Cheshire amongst others slated for the rest of the festival, it seemed evident that most of the event was centered around the second night, and on into Sunday morning.

With the festival now in full swing, it was easy to see the appeal behind this when compared to your usual EDM festivals that Perth has seen come and go in the past. The sense of culture and community spirit was alive, from the home cooked hot food, to the opening ceremony which saw both an indigenous welcoming and a message to the crowd about keeping it a safe environment for everyone. It felt as though everyone in attendance was there to enjoy each other’s company, and party together like you would with your friends for one night until you part ways and likely never meet again (a strange concept to anyone).

With headliners ready to take the stage and local acts such as FunKnight putting on sets that arguably stole the show in the early hours of Saturday evening, the festival vibes were slightly dampened by the inevitable return of the cold, and a blackout across the whole festival site. Crew members scrambled into action and luckily the problem was dealt with and the party continued on.

Despite temperatures dropping to nearly zero, the cold could not scare away the fiercest of festival veterans, with the main-stage still buzzing with people at 3am as local favorites Dank Stank took the stage.

Finally, the morning brought with it a break from the bitter cold and one by one the people who had retired to the safety and warmth of their tents slowly began to appear and make their way back down to bring in the morning with the funky sounds of Cheshire. As one of the standouts of the whole festival, Cheshire delivered an impressive performance with a token live saxophone and glitchy morning vibes to warm people up.

As people slowly started to pack up and move out, the dance floor was still buzzing as Sunday morning beers were cracked and the people left still partying soaked up the warmth and took in the beauty of the site one last time.

On leaving the site and reflecting on the party that took place, at first I found myself thinking of some of the issues the crew faced in taking on a legal festival in WA, not to mention the main-stage delays and power cuts during the night. But I was also left feeling like the event delivered so much more to people than what you could ever expect from a crew of local Perth promoters who wanted to fill what they saw as a void in the WA live music scene. The event promoted the concept of community well and it made for a very enjoyable and inclusive festival experience.

It wasn’t a mainstream musical festival, but nor was it trying to be, and if anything, the issues that came with doing something for the first time almost made the event feel more special knowing that you were there to witness real growth in the underground scene. Off the back of a successful debut it will be interesting to see the plans to expand Rain Dance beyond its infancy and widen its horizons into something bigger in the coming years.