2016. The Internet dubbed it one of our worst years yet. We lost Bowie and Prince, Alan Rickman and Phillip Seymore Hoffman. Brexit happened and then embarrassingly, Trump followed. It’s the year we want to cover with liquid white out in the history books, a real stinker of the 21st century. What we needed was an escape from the insanity. Some kind of riverside haven that was hidden away from all the crap. No wankers, no world calamities, no wifi. We needed some kind of paradise. And so it was done. Lost paradise, nestled in the lush underarms of Central Coast’s Glenworth Valley, was the place to shake off the shit that caked the heels of 2016 and dive tassels-and-glitter first into the new resolve and fresh beginnings that 2017 might offer.
This wasn’t just another festival - this was an escape from reality, an IOS update for the soul. The lineup was peppered with heavy hitters and featured some incredible local acts to keep an eye on in 2017. Highlights from day one included a twilight set from west oz up-and-comers Methyl Ethyl and the theatrical Montaigne with her stunning voice that resonated to the depths of the valley. Big Scary was flawless as always and impressive front man David Le'aupepe from Gang of Youths provided some heartfelt rock into the early morning on the main stage. Over at the Lost Disco Young Franco, Mo Funk and Motez picked up the beats and up on the hill under the trees was a bush doof paradise with Human Movement at the wheel late into the night.
Sunrise on day two packed some serious the heat and the baking dirt seemed to settle into every crevice of our mosh-bruised bodies. A few weary faces found their way back to the creek for rejuvenation while those looking for reinvigoration made the pilgrimage to Shambala Fields for some yoga, meditation and spiritual enlightenment. For us, revival could only be acquired by sticking faces into a plate of bacon-based food. Luckily, our paradisecatered for all forms of hangover remedies from fresh smoothies to the greasiest of kebabs. For a complete hangover recovery, a dunk in the river that snaked throughout the festival was essential. Every day, more than 300 people grabbed their half deflated mattresses and flopped into waist deep water, an activity made more rejuvenating by the drifting party beats of a riverside DJ.
The ease of every activity really stood out as this event. Upon arrival, you could set up your tent wherever you liked. For those that got in early and found the right location, undoing your tent zipper in the morning was equivocal to entry into the creek. The stages were only a short walk from any campsite and clean showers and toilets were aplenty. It was a cashless society whereby loading funds onto your waterproof wristband prevented the hassle of carrying a purse or losing your wallet. The people were nice, as if we all came with the same intention and offered this to each other with a goofy smile from ear to ear. Even the security were friendly, and offered safety with a side of hi-fives and none of the intimidation that music goers often experience at similar events.
But back to the music, which kicked into gear on Friday just as the sun started to ease it's punishing heat. Mosquito Coast played sun-soaked indie tunes on the main stage whilst The Belligerents and a DJ set from Hot Chip picked up the groove for the night. Music once again filled the valley but the focus was turned to Sticky Fingers at midnight as they played what will be one of their last sets before the band splits up next month. The Sydneysider's much adored musical fusion was supplied with sincerity. The crowd was buzzing and singing along in tune to every song.
New years eve started with an overcast sky and a light drizzle on the tent, a much welcomed reprieve from the toaster oven of days gone by. Those who indulged in the VIP Glamping area had already become accustomed to luxury with a private bar, massage, showers and a powder room among the pre-erected teepee reservation. It felt like walking through a Mongolian frontline of yurts with spacious canopies conveniently located for rest and relaxation in close proximity to the festival.
The final day of music had begun and attendees were hurtling towards the new year with as much cold beer and face glitter and possible. The indie-pop four piece Flowertruck drew a crowd in the sweltering heat of early afternoon while Luke Million got people down (and up), as daylight slipped away. Sex on Toast, Harts and Fat Freddy’s Drop were definite highlights but eyes were firmly fixed on Flight Facilities for the midnight extravaganza. Pure stoke filled the valley, resolutions were made and instantly fulfilled, and the music continued into the night as people consolidated three days of paradise, and stuck the middle finger to 2016.
From perfect weather to eclectic sounds, from the new friends made and the old friends appreciated. Lost Paradise was exactly what we needed to launch into the new year. And if 2017 is anything like the way we started it; this year is going to be an absolute cracker.