Live Review: Party In The Paddock

23 February 2016 | 3:07 pm | Rhys AndersonYaminah Willcox

"Singer Joe Thowe grabbed his mic and jumped down into the circle pit, stripping down. Naked, he joined the mosh, dick swinging and legs akimbo."

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If it wasn't on your radar before, this year's Party In the Paddock shows the boutique festival is doing everything it needs to become one of Australia's best homegrown festivals.

With all the trimmings (local food vans, boutique merchants, glitter tents, laneways of fairy lights) of bigger festivals such as Falls Festival, the outdoor two-night festival is as much a celebration of music as it is about when you fulfil your dreams beyond your expectations. Starting out as a few friends from Launceston putting on a few of their favourite acts, the festival now attracts thousands of party-goers nationwide with a bevy of incredible local and national artists.

Upon arrival it was impossible not to notice the thousands of glitter-clad festival-goers in felt hats and round sunglasses ready for a long hard day of drinking in the sun. First things first of course, and once the campsite had been set up as home for the next two days it was time to head into the main arena. Launceston two-piece Sumner kicked things off on the Main Stage and certainly brought their A-game. Melbourne-based funk/soul singer Erik Parker then took the stage with great enthusiasm before welcoming Denni to the stage.

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At around three in the afternoon, when most people were more than a few beverages in and ready to dance, the Main Stage filled up for rock-reggae band Ocean Alley, hailing from the Northern Beaches in Sydney. They worked the stage with such a strong presence and built the mood up for the rest of the evening — not a single person was standing still by the end of their set. Hockey Dad were up next, a two-piece from Wollongong. Their sweet surf-rock sounds really loosened up the crowd and there was even a spot of crowd surfing from a few extra keen guys.

"Singer James Tidswell's delivery of Dope Calypso was visceral, tearing out across the paddock as security pulls out a young girl from the frenzy of bodies slamming against the hay bale barriers."

While the Main Stage was off the a flying start, the Bakers Big Top tent had drawn a nice intimate crowd for back to back sets from The Beautiful Chains and The Embers, followed by a set from Zac Slater before the tent really heated up when the DJs took to the stage later on in the evening.

Back to the Main Stage and five-piece Brisbane boys The Belligerents had managed to keep the ever growing crowd moving. As the beverages flowed more and more freely, the dance moves became much more interesting and many news moves were born. Things only continued to heat up as Ecca Vandal took to the stage and her distinct sound had everyone up and jumping. Nothing changed when one-man show Harts did his thing and showed the people a good time with some funky soul rock. Sleepmakeswaves came from Sydney to show us a good time before their US tour kicks off next month, and a good time it was indeed. The sun had well and truly set by this stage. If you were one of the unlucky ones without a jacket, the mosh was the place to be.

Tkay Maizda had the crowd stomping their feet like a brontosaurus almost immediately, as the young Adelaide rapper delivered on her triple j hype creating a killer vibe.

Reckless and wrecked, Violent Soho's crowd was every bit as wild as is now expected from the fans of the award-winning Brisbane band. Singer James Tidswell's delivery of Dope Calypso was visceral, tearing out across the paddock as security pulls out a young girl from the frenzy of bodies slamming against the hay bale barriers.

Perhaps it was a dramatic drop in temperature, a 1am set time or waning popularity but few stayed after Violent Soho for DJ/Radio presenter Nina Las Vegas. Afterwards on the Big Top Stage the crowd swelled for up-and-coming DJ Kowl. Off to a shaky start as technical difficulties threatened to end the set only minutes in, the artist brought up local Daniel French, giving the tech ample time to fix the patching. French sat on the stage to have his long blonde dreads shaved to raise money for the Beyond Blue charity. The touching moment revived the flagging mood and helped to make Kowl's pioneering infectious electronica one of the best moments of the festival.


Maddy Jane's folk-pop and groove set was the perfect way to start the day as the early morning summer sun hit. Those eagerly sipping coffee on the hill were treated to dazzling harmonies and a brilliant Fleetwood Mac cover. At Vibes Town Village a crowd had gathered to hear Senator Peter Whish-Wilson conduct a timely discussion of the need for drug testing kits at festivals.

One of the best things about festivals is discovering bands that you know you'll have on high rotation once you get home —  Koi Child are one of those bands. The seven-piece brass and hip hop ensemble are every bit as great as that sounds. As the hip hop faded Tasmanian hardcore act Uncle Geezer gave a dedication to all the bong-smokers before launching into an energetic live set that was pure debauchery. Singer Joe Thowe grabbed his mic and jumped down into the circle pit, stripping down. Naked, he joined the mosh, dick swinging and legs akimbo. A comparatively more relaxed set by psychedelic group Lurch & Chief set the scene for bodies to sway instead of pogo. As phasing riffs blissed into the late afternoon punters took the opportunity to lay in the hammocks by the stage like tired lions in the scorching sun.

Lazer Baby had the punters on their feet and dancing to their heavy groove neo-soul project. The dynamic collaboration between drummer Sam Dowson and bass player Carlos Pashev delivered one of the most technically outstanding performances of the festival.

"It didn't stop him from sharing a joint on stage with singer Anty Horgan."

The time hit 4.20 in the afternoon; all the staff left their posts and gathered at the top of the paddock. Marching behind a frankly puzzling Norwegian flag bearer, the 420 crew descended down the natural amphitheatre to the Main Stage backed by the energetic encouragement from Perth indie-rockers Tired Lion. Ushered under the big top the march of festival goers and staff were treated to a heartfelt poem by one of the organisers, a tribute to a close friend too soon taken. There wasn't standing room left in the tent as people crowded in to pay their respects. As a final act of appreciation a band was brought up to perform their friend's favourite song, Float On by Modest Mouse. Reggae rap-rocker Zac Slater took the guitar, Jed Appleton (fresh from a UK tour) on lead vocal and rhythm guitar and festival director Jesse Higgs on harmonica. The combination of heartfelt words and indie-rock sent the crowd into a euphoric fervour; one man was seen shirtless on a friend's shoulders waving his walking frame with wild abandon.

Sunscreen and ample hydration should have been the first thing on every mind in the paddock on Saturday as the sun beat down unrelentingly on the thousands of keen festival-goers. A long hard day of recovery from the night before and preparation for the night ahead was in need by many. When The Bennies took to the stage at 5pm, there was not a still body in sight. Everyone jumped, climbed and crowd surfed until their hearts were content, or rather until security caught them. Having recently undergone surgery and under strict advice not to jump around, guitar player Jules Rozenbergs sat stationary in a chair and watched the party from a safe distance like a young J Mascis. It didn't stop him from sharing a joint on stage with singer Anty Horgan. Adelaide boys Bad//Dreems were up next, feeling fresh after being kitted out with some fresh kicks by the generous guys at Blundstone. The crowd started off small and intimate but as they got going it grew at a rapid pace. As always, the boys produced a tight set and got everyone even more up and about than before, if that was even possible. Vallis Alps were up next, followed by Melbourne band British India who had a few tricks up their sleeves. After playing the favourites, they went into an unexpected cover of Tusk by Fleetwood Mac, which then turned into an even more unexpected cover of Rage Against The Machine's Killing In The Name.

The Preatures were up next and they worked the crowd like never before; frontwoman Isabella Manfredi danced her heart out and her sweet moves sent the crowd wild. As good friends and artistic inspiration, Bad//Dreems were then invited up to share the stage, which was a beautiful moment in itself. When Spiderbait were finally up, the crowd went on and on and on. It was an ocean of people all screaming out the lyrics to Black Betty without a care in the world. Last but certainly not least, Roland Tings made himself comfortable on the Main Stage and kept the crowd moving and toasty warm.

As the party continued on into the early hours of the morning, some pushed on while others retired back to their campsites. Wherever you ended up and despite the questionable circumstances many found themselves in, it was a weekend of fun had by all who attended. With the recent departure of some of Australia's biggest festivals, Party In The Paddock is a festival on the right track, thanks to its relaxed atmosphere and impeccable artist selection. Get your diary out and start planning a trip to Tassie for next year because one thing is damn for sure, you won't want to miss it. Truly an amazingly run festival by a group of honest, hardworking and humble blokes.