Okay. Wait one minute. Nobody explained to me just how epic and transformative Subsonic could be. Maybe they had tried, but obviously my mind wasn’t capable of grasping it. I had to experience it to truly understand. Taking place over 3 days, nestled amongst the drop dead gorgeous Australiana of Monkerai, Subsonic is a melding of music, landscape, design, and a community.
Even from the drive in, down winding dirt roads, I could see why people hold this place in such high regard. Rolling green hills, enormous gumtrees, gorgeous lakes, and meandering rivers create the backdrop that makes this feel like a pilgrimage. For many it is, with this being the ninth reincarnation of the festival. It has grown considerably in size and I’m told professionalism, but the ethos of the festival remains the same – a celebration of music, nature, the human spirit.
With over 150 artists on the line up, split over 3 days and 5 stages, revellers camp out in grounds that range from next to the main stage entrance, down by the river, and even 15-20 minute walks up in the hills. As daunting as that sounds, seeing all these names on the line up, you quickly learn the ropes, understand that the 5 stages are all fairly close by, none are enormous, and that you can make your own adventure, wander off and catch an act you like, chill by the water, or eat some of the delicious fares on offer, and know that your friends are never far away. 4 days of camping, sunbaking, , going swimming in the river to get rid of the previous days sins, eating delicious food mixed with knowing that you will be dancing until sunrise, makes for an incredible experience.
The River Stage, nestled under trees, close by the water had a gravitational pull for myself all weekend. You reach it via a short path downhill, and boy can it be tough to get back up that hill. With a small wooden stage nestling in between some Funktion-One stacks, some of the big internationals and very talented locals hosted the best music and vibes over the weekend. Friday night was Fred P, A Love From Outer Space (AKA Andrew Weatherall and Sean Johnston). Saturday was a DnB, Garage, Dub, and jungle takeover, with the line up curated by 4 Sydney crews featuring Seba, Versa, and Vivek. Sunday was all techno, with one of my sets of the weekend coming from Kate Doherty, spanning decades and some serious genres, she absolutely killed it. Sunday night was spent seeing Boris close out the stage and the festival.
The other 4 stages ranged from the non stop Pizza Lab (60 odd hours straight of music) normally with some hard hitting techno at night and some more chilled minimal beats during the day. Paradiso stage hosted plenty of talent, the highlights being Oscar Mike vs Gilsun on the Sunday evening throwing out some serious garage and techno, and Pearson Sound closing out the stage. Other artists that I saw whom killed it included Robbie Lowe, Ryan Elliot, Opiou, Mr G, and Made in Paris.
Whilst I could write endlessly about the diverse array of local and international talents, and the 3 days of high quality music that I experienced, I have a word limit, so I need to address what truly makes this festival special, the people and community involved. This is a pilgrimage for many people. It is the one chance the local alternative and underground music scene to meet and express themselves, to share their passion with each other and the wider musical community. Seeing old friends whom haven’t crossed paths for a year meet, hug and catch up always brought a smile to my face. Being welcomed and treated like a long time friend by virtual strangers happened countless times. Not only is the close knit artistic community welcoming, all of the festival goers are. This was the first time I had experienced a festival with proper good vibes, with everyone being open minded, loving, welcoming, and friendly. I didn’t experience or hear of any anti-social behaviour . I saw police speaking like friends with party goers. This is surely what every festival must aspire to be like, a true celebration of music, art, and people.
author: Anthony Glanville