Live Review: Camp Elsewhere

21 May 2013 | 2:00 pm | Ben Meyer

Its location, setting and even weather makes this festival exceptional and an unmissable addition to next year’s calendar.

“The next station is Lilydale. This service will terminate at Lilydale.”

Riding your bike 35ish kms may not be the most practical form of transport to get to a music festival but upon hearing that there was a free meal and beer on offer to all those who undertake the endeavour, your intrepid reviewer couldn't find the bicycle shorts quickly enough. So with the trusty fixie in hand, the adventure began, setting forth along the Lilydale-Warburton Rail Trail to Camp Elsewhere.

The ride itself is wonderful, with lots of friendly trail folk that include all types of dog owners, joggers and horse riders. The trail provides abundant views of spectacular bush and farmland scenery and many rickety bridge crossings that drive home the point that inner-city bicycles shouldn't really be taken out of their natural habitat. Additionally, hard lessons are learnt when nightfall inevitably comes – it turns out that five dollar K-mart headlamps aren't actually that bright. Yet, with numb feet and having survived the journey with only being called a wanker once by the passing motorists, bubbly volunteers give their greeting of, “Oh, another cyclist! We like you guys”. Unfortunately they hadn't been briefed about the free meal (and beer) for each self-propelled commuter, which prompts your by now quite tired, cold and wet reviewer to die a little inside.

Nevertheless, with the rain getting heavier, practicality kicks in and it is necessary to find the posse and set up the tent. The small size of the festival and crystal clear mobile coverage makes this task dead simple, and with the posse found, warm clothes are put on and sympathetic ears located to help deal with the loss of the free warm meal*.

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The first night sees BJ Morriszonkle successfully manage to kill the lethargy that had instilled itself within the crowd. Morriszonkle's chromatic scales, driving waltzes and just plain eclectic awesomeness make the air electric with one of the best carnival vibes going around. This vibe unfortunately is not preserved by HP Reid who doesn't make many friends by kicking everyone out from the second stage room for his soundcheck. His set demonstrates his skills at creating rather boring slow blues is best summarised by one festivalgoer who exclaims a little bit too loudly, “This is really bad, what are we doing here?”

Limbo at the later stages of the night sees everyone pull together in a friendly competition to the death and the in-between DJs ensure that the good music plays on for those who are too lazy to walk up to the second stage room. Indeed, when the main stage is eventually shut down there is no silent wedge coming in to kill the vibe.

Day two sees long sleep-ins, much mud and an opportunity for the 75 per cent of the festival that arrived after dark to check out the place in the daylight. Many a walk to the creek and a general exploratory wander for maybe a mushroom or two (because no one had honestly thought to do that yet) is the order of the afternoon. This general time does have its downsides, however, because one has the chance to realise that they had lost most of their small plastic jewels or wall plugs that serve as the moronic Elsewhere currency. Additionally, you tend to realise how hungry you are and with only one kitchen that doesn't sell snacks even when it isn't running out of food, you regret not being forward thinking enough to have bought some corn chips and hummus.

The Sugar Fed Leopards see in the evening with amazing sequins, beautiful harmonies and smooth '60s lounge music. Featuring tango dancer cameos and a fantastic high energy dance solo by an appropriately dressed lady in a leopard costume, this band are the highlight of the festival. Drop everything you are doing right now just to run out and see these guys play.

Mighty Duke & The Lords bring their calypso good vibes to the main stage. With one reveller commenting, “This music is just like being on a cruise ship!” their spot would have been better placed on the first night to fit in with the nautical theme. Special mention must be made to 11-year-old Oscar who climbs on stage to dance with his favourite band and leaves with the whole crowd chanting his name.

The Puta Madre Bros take the stage in front of the biggest crowd of the festival. High energy guitar licks and so many cymbal crashes get the crowd dancing as if they are never going to see them again. With constant explosions of glitter coming from the mosh pit, The Bros announce their last song yelling “Let's make it a long one!”

Sunday morning sees many a wet tent folded up and many a neighbour/brand new best friend hug goodbye for the last time. Kudos to the organisers who smoothed out the opening night bumps by creating a small tight-knit festival experience with a great offering of all your favourite local bands in the one place. Its location, setting and even weather makes this festival exceptional and an unmissable addition to next year's calendar.

*It should be noted that by the second day of the festival, a meal ticket did eventually make it into your reviewer's hot little hand. To the seven people who were involved in making this happen, your efforts are infinitely appreciated. I also apologise for complaining so much.