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Review: Strawberry Fields was a perfectly curated escape hidden deep in the bush

The Australian festival nailed it yet again

  • WORDS: SCOTT CARBINES, PICTURE: DUNCOGRAPHIC
  • 5 December 2017
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Dominating one side, and featuring the likes of Daniel Avery and Tim Engelhardt, to Harvey Sutherland & Bermuda, Peggy Gou and the Rush Hour 20th anniversary showcase this year, this is where we found ourselves for most of the festival having the time of our lives (again).

For the past two years, there’s been a ‘beach’ stage set up on the banks of the river – perfectly adorned with a ‘Playa Del Murray’ sign bringing a tongue-in-cheek touch of Ibiza to the Australian bush.

This year, the orientation of the decks was shifted so the water was behind the artist, setting up a gorgeous setting for lazing back with a drink beneath the trees or with feet in the sand on the dancefloor.

Art and lighting are huge focuses of Strawberry Fields and something that sets it apart from other festivals like it. The welcoming glow that emanates from the various installations and the central village at night gives an enchanted feel that never fails to make us all fuzzy.

We clambered aboard an old school bus late on our first night and were transfixed by a 10-minute-long light and music display that, for the most part, had even the most rowdy festival-goers silent in awe.

And the Organic Audio stage was a revelation, with wooden structures strung up in the shade between a collection of painted gum trees in a hedonistic adult playground that hosted some of the best sets of Strawberry Fields 2017 (more on that below).

For us, we had the best time we’ve had at the festival since we first dived in. Something felt like it really hit it right three years into the current site. As always, we’ve brought you a selection of the best tracks that graced our ears. Check them out below, and we’ll catch you next year as Strawberry Fields celebrates its 10th anniversary.

1 INLAND KNIGHTS 'SPENT UP'

Archie Hamilton - The Beach, Friday

It’s a bit of an effort getting to Strawberry Fields no matter where you’re coming from, which, of course, is all part of what makes it so special. Nonetheless, after a solid three to four hour-long drive from Melbourne and setting up camp on Friday, we were keen for a drink and some driving beats. Archie Hamilton manned the decks at ‘Playa Del Murray’ from 4pm to 7pm and we exhaled the stress of the journey and inhaled some tech-house rollers. ‘Spent Up’ by Inland Knights caught our ear as the dancefloor eased into the first proper night of Strawberry Fields 2017.

2 UNIT 2 'Sunshine' (KiNK remix)

Optimo - Wildlands, Friday

Having just witnessed Oxia treat a hands-in-the-air crowd to his always huge ‘Domino,’ Glaswegian legends Optimo stepped up for two hours from 9pm to get the night into full swing as a Scottish flag waved front and centre among a new wave of Australian ‘doof stick’ signs. Working their way through the worldly sounds of Tanzania Soundsystem’s ‘Msichana’ and the indigenous Australian-inspired ‘Kookaburra’ by Coober Pedy University Band (Tornado Wallace and Tom Moore of Melbourne duo Otologic), new tracks from Bicep – and even Black Betty and AC/DC – the duo showed their trademark eclectic approach to their sets. We couldn’t go past the uplifting keys of KiNK’s remix of Unit 2's ‘Sunshine’ as a set highlight. Big stuff.

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