Thanks for having us, Secret Garden!
Green thickets, blistering sun, the sounds of our natural surrounds and 2000 or so people wearing outrageous costumes as they sing and dance over two full days of live music and art. There’s not much out there that compares to the beautiful Secret Garden Festival.
Located just South-West of Sydney lies a small farm called Brownlow Hill. At the close of Summer each year, this respected land is carefully treated to a couple of thousand gentle punters, as they congregate for a weekend of live music, ridiculous art installations, fancy dress and whacky quirks that lay hidden throughout the farm for you to stumble upon.
Mysterious in more ways than one, Secret Garden homes a lot of unique qualities that really set it apart from anything else we have going. One that really sticks out is the disclosure of the lineup announcement; embargoed until the final ticket is sold. With only days to go until the festival gates were open, the inevitable “SOLD OUT” banner sparkled across the events webpage, inviting us to the knowledge that names like, Sampa The Great, Moonbase Commander, Roland Tings, Bad//Dreems, CC: Disco, Planete, Raury, World Champion, Gordi, Hayden James would be taking over the multiple stages for a memorable 2016 event.
With the addition of Matt Corby filling the “Secret Guest” spot, as well as after party-esque stages closing both nights of the festival – the Saturday being a Purple Sneakers & Friends takeover, it’s safe to say we had a damn good time. Here’s what a few of us had to say as a result of the festivities that took place at the 2016 edition of Secret Garden.
Martin Novosel (Purple Sneakers Founder / Owner / Click Presenter / PSDJs)
Performance Highlights: Raury, Sampa The Great, Gang Of Youths, CC Disco
Favourite Moment: Putting on some of our favourite local DJs on the Purple Sneakers & Friends stage… Adi Toohey & Andy Garvey (FBi Sunset), Sidechains, Le Fruit, I Oh You DJs, Good Manners. Meeting Sampa The Great & catchup hangs with Matt Corby.
Biggest Surprise: Finding out it was Tony Kingston’s birthday!!!!
Tony ‘Ponez’ Kingston (Purple Sneakers Contributor / Editorial PR)
Performance Highlights: I really enjoyed Mansionair during the early evening of the first night and thought their set time was absolutely spot on, as they were a great act to ease people into the intense party which followed. Camp Queen was without a doubt the place to be later that night. The atmosphere was electric and the stage production was world class. It’s unique in the way the DJs (killer selectors like CC:Disco & Stereogamous) were elevated well above the floor of the stage, where a bunch of drag queens were keeping the energy levels high with their incredible dance moves. It was also fun to wander off a bit to discover some hidden stages I never even knew existed. I’m not sure what it was called, but the pirate ship looking one was full of good times too.
On the Saturday, it was all about the main stage acts – Roland Tings, Raury, World Champion & Matt Corby all put on memorable performances.
Favourite Moments: This is a very difficult question as there were so many wonderful moments this year! Bumping into friends was always a pleasure, but I also really liked the mock wedding we experienced amongst some of the most beautiful bush land I’ve ever seen. Add to that list, the awesome live music on offer of course, watching people be silly in their hilarious costumes and celebrating my birthday in the company of Le Fruit, Purple Sneakers DJs & friends and you’ve got yourself a spectacular weekend!
Biggest Surprises: In terms of the artists, the biggest surprises for me were the ones in the genres I wouldn’t normally listen to, Raury and Matt Corby. Another surprise was hearing an ambient electronic DJ named Timothy Newman play an amazing all vinyl set on the Carbonation Nation stage on Saturday afternoon, while I was resting on a tarp with a bubble machine on it. If you’re a promoter looking for some underground talent, book this guy!
Also, even though the crowd at this festival is known for putting a lot of effort into dress ups, I was blown away by the costumes this year. People were dressed up in almost everything you could possibly imagine. A Barack Obama nun, Fred Flintstone, men in Scottish kilts with large fake penises hanging out, a cricket team (who even setup their own cricket match near the main stage), 20+ guys dressed in all white and a red scarf, who made their appearance into the festival on Saturday getting chased by three other large men dressed as bulls – the list is literally never ending!
Hannah Galvin (Purple Sneakers Sub-Editor / Click Presenter)
Highlight Performances: A line-up celebrating the honestly amazing talent coming straight out of our backyards (with the exception of international act, Raury), the all-Australian star studded line-up was so brilliantly strung together to shape the festival this year. With some personal favourite sets being hosted by, Bad//Dreems, Roland Tings and Sampa The Great, I was pleasantly surprised by the huge voice that came out of Montaigne‘s tiny shell. Having failed to see her live show prior, it was really wonderful to experience such raw and honest talent from this powerful local artist.
The biggest highlight though, would have to be from the one and only Matt Corby. Stepping out with his squad of fellow Ghostbusters, the full band played at full-force, serenading the audience with new tracks, ‘Monday’, ‘Belly Side Up’ and, ‘Sooth Lady Wine’, as well as strong older gems, such as crowd favourite, ‘Resolution’. What a ridiculously magic voice, bring on Telluric!
Special shoutouts are also due to the throwback intermission sets over both the Friday and Saturday at the Garden Stage. I’ve never had so much fun in between bands at a festival.
Favourite Moments: One of my favourite aspects of Secret Garden is its generous room for the weird and wonderful showcases that aren’t necessarily focused primarily on music. A favourite area of mine was Jungle Boogie, that seduced you into its green arena just steps before the archway of the main stage. Aside from a quick look at Psychotic Aquatic, the very first thing I experienced was John Conway prancing about the leafy side-stage, chanting, “I’m the Internet, how about you? / What do you look up on the Internet?” that ensued inappropriate answers from the interactive audience, as well as a reenactment of Castaway‘s heartbreaking scene of Wilson drifting away. It was definitely a journey.
Alongside that, the Mystic Cave – better known as the “Rave Cave” amongst my fellow compadres, was a mindfuck of fun; what with its bleeding light show, and bloody exotic personas gallivanting the stage beneath some seriously impressive (and physically elevated) DJs.
Finally, dancing to the absolute gems that were chosen and mixed by our very own PSDJs to wrap up one of the best weekends of the year was immensely fun for my smiling heart. A step outside of the FBi studios, it kind of felt like the Purple Sneakers radio show with a live audience, due to the brand new club music being spun with some blasts from the past, occasionally nestled in between.
Biggest Surprises: Mate, it’s Secret Garden, there are bound to be surprises. Without listing essentially everything on show, some memorable moments include Jonathan Boulet‘s very new and separated set (I knew Gubba painted a completely different direction for the guy, but could he not just perform at least one track from the self-titled album?!), the secret UV paint party above the hill of haystacks, and watching my best buddy come third in Farmer Henry Wants A Wife, after forcing her to participate despite already partaking in an extremely happy relationship.. Woops.