words by Alex Milne

Sugar Mountain, the Summit of Music and Art hosted at the VCA in Melbourne last Saturday, was a unique festival that blended the mediums. It boasted a distinctive venue, a variety of acts and intriguing artworks.

The location and layout of Sugar Mountain was convenient and well thought out. The Dodds Street stage had a similar feel to laneway; long and narrow – the decorations were cool but it did get pretty squishy when it was packed. The Car Park stage absolutely blew you away with the enormous wall piece by artist Ash Keating. It was a fun backdrop for photos and reflected the creative vibe of the festival. The Boiler Room; with it’s 360 degree view of the DJ’s, was a unique experience.

The first act I arrived at was Roland Tings. This Triple J Unearthed artist is new to the scene but you wouldn’t have picked it from his set. By the time he finished up it didn’t feel like only 3 in the afternoon.

Exploring between acts, all about the festival could be found a variety of artworks. Portraits, paintings, photography, short films and ceramic statues enhanced the experience.

At 4.30pm I caught Alpine at the Dodds Street stage who were a nice relaxed break compared to the act before. Halfway through their set I ducked back to the Car Park stage to check out some of Le1f. Although not usually one for rap music this guy knew how to work the crowd. Back at Dodds Street stage we snuck in for the last half of Total Giovanni who really were the whole package. Not only was their music awesome, they even had matching bucket hats.

For the next few hours we found ourselves a prime spot at the edge of the stage of the Boiler Room and were reluctant to move. The set from Tim Sweeney was funky and fun but the real winner of my night was Julio Bashmore. One of my favourite DJ’s, his set was an absolute ripper. Even better was that half way through the set, a lot of people left for Hot Chip, so there was even room to move!

Although we were exhausted from the days’ activities I couldn’t resist going home via the Dodds Street stage to watch the last half hour of Hot Chip. The effects on the main stage were awesome; lights and music creating a powerful atmosphere that brought the day to a climax. What amazed me most about these guys was that even though I was right at the back, the quality and clarity of their sound was not lost at all.

Sugar Mountain is a fantastic up and coming festival. It offered a variety of entertainment across multiple genres and mediums. I struggle to think of a demographic that wouldn’t feel at home here. I will definitely be getting myself a ticket next year.

Rating: ★★★★

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