Musings about a first year festival: Hot Dub Wine Machine edition
Festivals? It's a love-hate relationship for a lot people. Festivals present a unique opportunity to catch some of the best live artists in the world and have a good time. Nonetheless, one must state the obvious — people can be rude, lines can be long, and feet can get sore. These are things you can tolerate.
Yet, the Hot Dub Wine Machine tour, when compared to the genuine effervescence of "parent festival" Hot Dub Time Machine, almost appears as a purely commercially-driven endeavour. You can almost hear the financial pitch for this iteration of DJ Tom Loud's famously adored event: Put on some shows in fancy wineries, have a few guests and slap on a sizeable ticket price on for good measure. The Perth leg was the biggest, with approximately 12,500 stumbling through the gates of Houghton Estate. As a result, it often like an open-air party which left some punters with only a half-decent boomerang or 'gram.
The boutique festival was set in the stunning surrounds of the WA Swan Valley. The blue skies, rolling hills and everlasting rows of vineyards make you feel like you've rolled into Tuscany. The setting and the well curated selection of Aussie live music were the two saving graces of the festival. Miami Horror were by far the best act of the day, impressing crowds with a vibrant selection of old and new material. PNAU joined the tour to play their first live gigs in six years and did not disappoint. Meanwhile, Young Franco played a vast array of remixes. The sound mixing was fantastic, and the absence of technical difficulties was rather refreshing.
On the contrary, the patrons were certainly not fresh. You know, the people who go to Embargo every weekend and get blind-faced on overpriced drinks in plastic cups. This was fairly expected; on the long, sobering journey into the venue, I witnessed people passed out on the side of the road, urinating on the vines, and stumbling out of daddy-hired party buses straight out of the western suburbs etc. Inside the venue, people pushed, shoved, elbowed and were generally rude. Don't get me started on festival etiquette (note: the wider IN team will be preparing an in-depth opinion piece on this in due course).
Unfortunately, by the time Hot Dub Time Machine approached the stage, I was tired and fed up, but I persevered to see what the fuss was all about. Admittedly, the professional DJ puts a lot of effort into the theatrics of his stage show to ensure we forget he is simply clicking play on a playlist. He strings the tracks together quite effortlessly, with a visual backdrop, light show, confetti, giant inflatable balls and streamers. It began in 1954 with Rock Around the Clock, Bill Haley and the Comets’ pioneering rock ’n’ roll classic. It then continues into a dance, pop and rock friendly journey through the 1960s to the present day. Apparently Lulu Loud, HDTM's wife is the show's hostess and appeared on the screen to provide commentary. Occasionally there would be stock footage relevant to the period and/or the music.
Interestingly, Loud kept alluding to how we were all 90s ravers. However, none of his material from the playlist of about 100 songs could be considered 'rave'. I can also assure you, most of the patrons were infants in the 90s. The closest thing being this belter:
It appeared from the video footage that a master copy of his playlist has been put onto vinyl which is so 90s raver old-school. All jokes aside, Loud spun bangers ranging from Stevie Wonder to Queen Bey and gave punters a day to remember.
Personally, Hot Dub taught me an important lesson about festivals as well as reviewing. I cannot blame the behaviour of unruly patrons on the festival itself, nor can I punish promoters for such misfortune. There is a clear difference between an underwhelming festival and an underwhelming crowd. Unfortunately, many festivals can get a bad rap because of the obnoxious people they attract. Credit should be given when it is due.
For a festival in its absolute infancy, Hot Dub did what most established festivals fail at doing —it presented a fantastic selection of Australian artists, in a picturesque venue, with more vibes than even Vybz Kartel himself. Is that not the most important outcome?