LIVE REVIEW: Bizarre Garden Festival, 05.02.16 – 07.02.16

Essential Intentions Byron Bay
Somewhere.. not quite over the rainbow…
With 50-something DJs ~ Madscandy + She J +Flex Cop + Audun +Catz N Dogz + Cassian + Magu  + Miles Jackson + Captain Kaine + more

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I felt like I was in a scene from some surreal version of Wizard of Oz as I cruise down the road, heading west in northern New South Wales.

Green velvety rolling hills and fields of brilliant vermillion sunflowers. Up hills and down dales, over creeks and through lush leafy forests, and all the while chasing that rainbow arced ahead and over this magical vista.

Luring and beckoning. Maybe that’s where the BIZARREGARDEN FESTIVAL is. Somewhere over that rainbow. Now that would be wonderfully Bizarre.

I was so enjoying my trip down the yellow flanked road, singing to the world, I totally missed the turn-off. Internet was non-existent and directions had been kept deliberately minimal to add to the allure of the journey. The address had only been released that morning.

Down a muddy side track to a paddock with tents being ram-shackingly erected. Ah, base camp. I claim a spot on the perimeter under a large gum-tree. Good for privacy and shelter as long as those impending storms don’t wreck havoc.

Off to explore. Winding down and ‘round the oddly and colourfully decorated paths of this BIZARRE GARDEN. A clearing in the woods with chairs and couches and weird objects d’art dangling from tree-branches. Fairy-lights twinkling and mirrors lurking, catching me off my guard as I glimpse un-expectant distorted visions. Now I feel like Alice in the rabbit-hole and through the looking-glass. Trippy Bizarre.

“Hola,” a voice chirps from a hammock in the trees.

“Hola. Esta su casa?”, I automatically respond in espanol. “Yes. Welcome. Me casa es su casa.” I stay for… well it wasn’t a cup of tea exactly.

I was offered a concoction that tasted a bit like coconut water laced with some serious vodka-ish absinthy-stuff.

“Gracias,” I splutter and stagger off.

Winding further along the psycho paths to the Bizarre Stage. Greetings from the sound and stage crew still setting up.

Over and down to the Garden Stage, charmingly decorated with colourful flowers, wheel-barrows and watering cans. There were a few fellow early revellers gathering to… well, revel. I was amazed at how many folk felt the urge to stop and smell the fake-roses and water the artificial flowers in the pouring rain. The gardening crew. Amusingly Bizarre.

And so we danced.  And it rained. And so we danced. What can you do? Just immerse yourself in the mud and the malarkey and mosh.

Having a break and a munch in the food area up the hill at the top of the Bizarre Stage, there was a most bizarre “encounter.”

Enjoying my umpteenth delish fish- taco from the bow-tied “Tish Faco” crew – who’s motto is, We Don’t Faco Round out of left-field from the hill behind, a figure emerges. Not just any figure, a man, walking on his hands. He “walks” down the hill behind us and through the food area. Our mouths are agape and our minds aghast. His legs flaying in the air like some weird giant praying-mantis. The ground is so slippery many up-right mortals have ended arse-up. This freak takes the steep muddy hill down onto the dance-mud-floor in his up-side- down stride. Now that is remarkably Bizarre.

The only thing that could of topped that in the Bizarre awards would have been during the port-a-loo episode.

For whatever reason, there was a decision made to re-locate three loos from the edge of the stage to the top of the hill. It took about six men strong and true to lasso the rectangular beasts and drag them up the steep incline. I’m sure I heard muffled screams coming from the last port-a-beast. I’m convinced someone was inside, most likely in a very compromised position. What a trip that would be just as you’re sitting down to mind your own business. Being so suddenly and gracelessly up-rooted and hurled to god-knows-where. Man, that’d be some bad-arse Bizarre trip.  Of course he was too traumatised and humiliated to emerge from his panic-loo for the rest of the festival. In fact I don’t think he has ever been sighted again, sadly Bizarre..

The show must go on, so we put on our red shoes and dance the blues, our bright gum-boots and dance the trance, our bare-feet and squelch dance in the muddage. It all feels quite “normal” by now, in a Bizarre way.

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