new year at peats ridge

I spent the year's change-over period at the Peats Ridge Sustainable Music Festival in the Glenworth Valley north of Sydney. I won't link to their site because whoever put it together has not yet discovered the wonders of jpeg file compression and you will miss important moments in your children's lives waiting for the home page to load. Maybe image compression has carbon footprint implications that i don't know about?


The festival organisers went with a private security sub-contractor called i-Sec, and their fluoro soldiers were posted at the entrance searching cars for alcohol. After what felt less like a search and more like the aggressive gang rape of a motor vehicle, we made our way down into the valley - whisky bottle stow aways huddled, scared but safe, in the bottom of Caroline's backpack. 

We pitched our tents a good 400km from the festival itself but as a trade-off for this proximity fart we managed to snag a prime spot between some shady pines. The sun was high and its heat was punishing so this felt like the best real estate experience this Sydney-sider is ever likely to have.

Festival first day, and i think i may have copped my festival highlight within the first half hour of walking through the gates. Dan Kelly and his Dream Band are seriously friggin wonderful. Jimi Linton who fronts Ranger Spacey put me on to him with the weightiest of recommendations and now i'm hooked. He writes joyous songs that are surreptitiously intricate but outwardly effortless. And his band: also wonderful and contains a healthy number of Augie Marchers. They are at times awe-inspiring and then pant-pissingly hilarious. His falsetto dispensing bassplayer wears a business suit/poncho hybrid and is introduced as the corporate mexican, these are great men.

That night we returned to our tent to find that spiders had webbed off my tent like arachnid CSI. It was seriously fucking ridiculous. We chose the tent with less spiders on it to sleep in.

Over the next couple of days the heat made it hard to lose myself in the performances - it was seriously oppressive. I felt pathetic as a species watching thousands of my fellow homo sapiens sapiens squeeze into the narrow strips of shade cast by semi-permeable hessian fencing. Kids almost perished while they tried to figure out which of the 7 types of bin their paddle pop stick should go in. During the day, main stage acts shouted across a hundred metres of barren, radioactive land to crowds cowering under distant gumtrees. At night, the film of dust and sweat that you worked up over the course of the day protected you from the pesky relief offered by the evening breeze.

Despite the heat though, there were some moments of pure refreshing enjoyment: Hungry Kids of Hungary; Dereb the Ambassador; Deep Sea Arcade; $7 slushies; river swimming; Jonathan Boulet; Cloud Control (special mention, they were awesome in the true sense of the word); and then there was Watussi whose front man got full-frontal naked at the stroke of midnight under the flimsy but excellent pretense - a new year's resolution of absolute self-expression.

It was the first time i had been to Peats Ridge without playing - I had played twice before with Kid Confucius - and though i thought it would be nice to just be a NYE punter, i almost immediately wished i was performing. I wished this because i love playing but i think i also missed the feeling of unarguable day-long legitimacy that comes with being extraordinary for 45 minutes.


  1. Arachnid CSI. *giggle* Man, no one turns a phrase like you, or writes with such visceral, visual metaphor and simile. I don't just see what you are writing about, I feel it. This is a rare talent indeed.

  2. What she said (my understanding of language lamer and hence lack of literary quality in this comment. Nevertheless weighty sentiment stands.)