Wonderland 2016: A Woodland Escape

Six years since its inauguration into the festival world of the WA music scene, it’s safe to say that Wonderland has lost none of the magic that has resulted in it being hailed as one of the most exciting up and coming festivals in Australia. Straying from the blueprint of larger festivals such as Stereosonic and Future, models that have proved unsustainable in the current festival climate, Wonderland continues to perfectly capture a breezy, boutique vibe while still delivering an impressive line-up of musical talent.

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Set in the larger venue of the Kitchener Park, the festival boasted 2 stages and a bustling silent disco, and enough bars and toilets to ensure you don’t spend half a set waiting in line – something that I’ve come to find is no mean feat for a festival.

With the forecasted rain largely holding off, and the rays of sunshine peering through the Woodland surroundings, the infectiously relaxed vibe of the festival immediately hit you walking in, with market stalls and food trucks filling your line of sight and the Wasteland stage directly in front. This stage highlighted some of the up and coming Perth-based DJs and producers, and after witnessing the Father DJs laying down some hot Hip-Hop and Trap sounds, exploring the main stage area was next on the agenda.

Admittedly not having heard of them previously, Skegss played an enjoyable rock-heavy set for the growing crowd – even more impressive due to their self-admission that they only fully learned the tracks they were performing the day prior.

Next up were indie rock stars The Jungle Giants, whose feel-good upbeat songs got the crowd feeling fine in no time. Playing a set littered with tracks from their latest release Speakerzoid, the Brisbane band had heads bopping and good vibes flowing. Japanese Wallpaper kept up this mood only through a more chilled means, with the intermittent drizzles of rain seemingly fitting perfectly with their spacey electronic sound and stirring melodies.

Gracing the Wonderland stage for the second time in as many years, Dune Rats then proceeded to lift the tempo again with their nonchalant beach rock style as night time fell upon the festival, with the flashing lights of surrounding rides providing a backdrop for the main stage area. Following an energetic live set which involved a poll of the audience as to which substances they were enjoying, Australian house DJ Hayden James hit the stage to the rupture of the crowd. As people scurried through the crowd faster than a Black Friday store opening to get as close to the action as possible, Hayden James launched into a festival-stealing set which included his own hits (“Something About You”, “Permission To Love”) as well as some remixes to other massive dance tracks such as Duke Dumont’s “Ocean Drive”. His personal spin on Rufus’ “Innerbloom” saw a flock of people lifted onto shoulders dancing carelessly – a standout moment from a standout set.

The final act on the festival’s register came in the form of Flight Facilties. For anyone who hasn’t seen a live performance from this Australian electronic duo I could not recommend it enough. While most festival’s prefer to save the most upbeat act for last, anyone who attended Groovin The Moo 2015 can attest to Flight Facilities’ ability to switch down the tempo of a festival and progressively rebuild it to close out the day in awesome fashion. Given this, there were no complaints from me with Flight Facilities closing out proceedings and they gladly obliged with an incredible live performance. In a slightly more upbeat set than usual, the trademarks of their regular acts were all there: incredible live vocals, shimmering dance numbers and teasingly slow build ups which immediately redeem themselves upon the beat dropping in. Playing all the well-known hits from their debut 2014 release Down to Earth such as stellar renditions of “Crave You” and “2 Bodies”, the recent addition of gifted vocalist Michela Baranov – who has been touring the world with the duo this year – on a number of songs added a further dimension to their live show.

Wonderland continues to embody a festival which gives the people what they want: a friendly, community vibe which isn’t centred around Jetts flagbearers in stringlets, no major clashes between well known acts, and a relaxed, carefree ambience that has been missing from festivals in recent years.

If this year is anything to go by, Wonderland is a festival that will only grow in coming years and is one to mark into your 2017 calendars.