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In Review: Lush Festival 2017

A muddy start to a scenic and sun-filled weekend ahead.

20 Apr 2017 / Opinion / written by Marike Watson / Pics by Brett Laing

Rain showers stained longwinded roads last weekend as the second annual Lush Festival kicked off in unanticipated muddy circumstances in Clarens.

Shoes were abandoned and slippery slopes conquered as festivalgoers struggled against the uneven terrain in an attempt to pitch a small shelter from the surrounding messy deluge. With two primary stages aligned parallel to one another, including an electronic dance area located in the centre of a small forest, Lush, unlike many attendees, was more than ready to begin.

Luckily all signs of rain had dispersed as the first acts of the evening took to their separate stages. I gravitated towards the Owl Stage often, watching as heads and bodies nodded along to the force and vibrancy of Hellcats and Black Math as cymbals were shattered and guitar riffs shredded despite the curiously icy climate. Hellcats offer their audience a bottle of Tequila to share, Alessandro Benigno’s “Drink up my lads!” challenging them to only return it once empty. A challenge willfully met.

I crawl back into my tent soon thereafter, battling the cold rather poorly as Fuzigish and Durban’s latest hard rock outfit Mouse play the final two sets of the night. I hear the crowd indulge in Fuzigish’s energy, yelling along unreservedly as they blaze through their hour on stage before Mouse’s garage-inspired tone replaces the listening foreground.

Any desire to sleep in Friday morning was unexpectedly halted by The Temper Trap’s soundcheck. A collective excitement amongst attendees now grew as the combination of Dougy Mandagi’s vocals echoing in the distance and the warmth of sunlight ensured an entertaining day ahead. Contrasting sounds withheld at each platform crafted an effect of transportation as festivalgoers now slowly meandered to and fro. Retro Dizzy’s surf-tainted melodies shipped me off to a whole different place entirely, whilst Tidal Waves’ home-grown reggae grooves reminded me that year after year, they’re consistently vibey and professional.

Competing time slots inevitably meant one would miss the latter or first half of an artist’s set that day, yet as the sun melted away and the temperature dropped festivalgoers eagerly awaited the Australian headliner’s presence upon the Willows Stage. In response to an immense reception The Temper Trap presented an exuberant and highly moving performance. Friday evening subsequently gleamed akin to the stars shining above as Mandagi’s distinctive vocals soared over bodies hustled together for warmth with songs old and new ringing across happy ears. ‘Soldier On’ especially peaked as one of the more memorable instances of their set, striking a poignant sentiment with the crowd as voices cheered in reverence.

Saturday morning arrived almost too swiftly, treating attendees to another undoubtedly scenic day as the sun glistened over the ever-present mountain ranges cradling the festival grounds. I’m tempted to visit The Woods for Mr Sakatumi’s set, yet my energy levels direct me to The Owl Stage instead. Josh Kempen’s old school rock ‘n’ roll feel is soothing amid the rival noises from afar. His temperament on stage is laidback and casual as he stares out across his surprisingly small audience before expressing a desire to meet the few huddled at the front of the platform for a quick chat after the gig. Sol Gems and Bye Beneco follow his performance with their uniquely alternative and psychedelic licks of sound that seamlessly slot into this particular stage’s cleverly curated reverb-filled bill.

By now festivalgoers were masters at battling the cold, retaining the pseudo-Coachella fashion of flower crowns and glittered cheeks as layers of coats and scarves resolvedly made the rounds. Karen Zoid, Shortstraw, and Jeremy Loops attracted the greatest reception that evening, with Loops motivating the audience to sing louder as he efficiently loops their calls into his set. The general consensus is undoubtedly one of elation as bodies danced themselves warm alongside the unceasing rhythm of Loops’ execution which is tight and well-thought-out.

Sunday sees a campsite empty itself sooner than expected as Lush remains a testament to its name, succeeding its first run with a second lap that fruitfully bred something to look forward to in what only appears as a mighty future ahead.

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