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Photos and Review by Julian Neil

Lineup includes: The Presets, Solardo, Weiss, Pleasurekraft, James Zabiela, Super Flu, Secondcity, Lovebirds, Mighty Mouse, Kora, Tina Says, A.N.D, Aarin Fraser, Boasey, Callum Duncan, Charlie Bucket, D.Coy, Darren Bouthier, Darrren Maz, Flex, Green George, James A, Jaydream, JimiJ, Jono, JStar, Leandro Monteiro, Louis Villa, Luke P, Martyn Thain, Max Landy, Miss Holding, Nik Thompson, Nuphoria, Perm, PJ Stokes, Rovy Rush, Saul Bliss, SnB, Tachee and VK.

I arrived at Araluen with a posse, a touch early, as staff prepared for the imminent crowds descending from a steady stream of buses and vehicles.

There was a brief interlude to have a good look at the venue, resplendent with 4 different & unique stages, catering to the various musical styles and vibe on offer.

‘The Concourse’ hosted the Main Stage, with plenty of room for dancing, lined with food and beverage vendors; next to the vine covered promenade (complete with Festival Ape) was a large tent full of chairs and lounges to recline in and shelter from the hot sun.

‘The Ampitheatre’ had its grassy stone steps surrounding a Prism shaped booth; ‘The Living Room’ featured a fantastic Retro TV set, while the ‘Hidden Garden’ booth was tucked away at the top of the park, covered in greenery.

The scene was set by the likes of Nuphoria and A.N.D. in The Ampitheatre, giving the new arrivals a great down tempo introduction to the day. I first heard Nuphoria perform at the Blossom Festival, heldearlier this year, as part of the Solouk collective. It was in the very early hours of the morning, clear starlit skies, warm fires and good people, enjoying the mystic and almost haunting music he produced. Highly recommended.

Because of this experience, I felt that his set was a bit too early in the day, but it did set a high benchmark for the following artists. Meanwhile, DJ Charlie Bucket kicked off the Living Room, with a soulful, funk-filled set; The tent housing the TV booth got pretty warm, thanks to the weather and the number of happy punters.

I discover the Hidden Garden a little later in the Day; VK & Perm played to an intimate garden space. I’m afraid I didn’t get to many sets in this area, I admit I had a bit of a fixation with the Amphitheater and Living Room styles, kept gravitating there.

Lovebirds, on the main stage was a definite highlight, channeling disco vibes in a con-temporary fashion. It was still very warm at this point, the crowd alternated between each stage and the numerous food and beverage outlets, which were seriously good.
I found a food truck called the Dirty Swine, manned by cheerful Kiwi’s, serving among other things, bao buns.
But these were cheeseburger bao buns, with a side of pork crackling. Needless to say, we devoured these, washed down with G&T’s and Dirty Mules.

Back in the Ampitheatre, Kora, from Canada, continues the amazing vibe set by Nuphoria and A.N.D. The amp’s steps are filled by dancing figures by this point, as the breeze picked up and bevvys were downed with enthusiasm.

Secondcity landed with a bang on the Concourse, with driving techno bass lines and sweet soaring house vocals.

Super Flu kicked up the tempo in the Ampitheatre, much to the delight of the steps massive; Mighty Mouse kept the Living Room moving with a Disco flavoured set; OMG. James Zabiela, with his mad live DJ skills, at an almost frenzied pace at times, dropping some amazing acid beats, occasionally free-styling on a midi controller, revving the crowd up again and again.

We all dance like mad. Now it’s time to hydrate. I get across to see local producer Tina Says rocking the Living Room, with her signature hard and heavy beats resonating the tent supports. This is a great set. Despite a couple of power outages during the set, she keeps the energy high, interacting with everyone, with several other respected producers joining the crowd.

A supporting track that went down an absolute treat, was Anti Up’s “Pizza”… We all chant along, thinking about food again, and maybe to drink more water. Good timing! The crowds flocked between Weiss, Saul Bliss and Max Landy, Jimi J, Pleasurekraft, and Solardo over the next two hours, each providing a solid & enjoyable experience. As Solardo wrapped up his set in the twilight, you could feel excitement build in the warm breezes around the Concourse.

As Julian Hamilton & Kim Moyes took to the stage, the audience roared in welcome. The Presets have traveled a long way since forming in the early 2000’s; I first saw them perform live at 2007’s Big Day Out, two years after their first album ‘Beams’. I played Beams A LOT.

‘Apocalypso’ was released in 2008, it blew the roof off everything. As they played tracks from these albums (‘I Go Hard, I Go Home’, ‘Talk Like That’, ‘Are You The One?’, ‘Kicking & Screaming’), the multi-instrumentalist duo moved around a minimalist stage, complete with synths, drum kit and a mesmerising light show.

There was a great low key twist in bringing in ‘This Boy’s in Love’; As the set progressed into the night, ‘Pacifica’ and ‘Hi Viz’ got a solid airing, with the oddly compelling ‘Martini’, a militant singalong (shout- along!) to ‘Ghosts’; ‘Tools Down’, and ‘Youth In Trouble’. These guys are masters of their craft.

When you thought it couldn’t get more noisy or crowded, they drop ‘My People’. Then it’s just bedlam. They provided a truly memorable end to what had been a stellar day in the sun, and I saw plenty of tired grins on faces around me as we all shuffled to buses and cars. A good night.

There’s a great Habitat playlist currently on Spotify, featuring most of the artists present on the day.

Now, I just want some pizza.

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