REVIEW: Rain Dance Festival, a unique and enlightening experience unlike any other
After a week of prep, planning and a two-hour drive into the Perth bushland, I arrived alongside some of my favourite people to Perth’s first music, arts and lifestyle camping festival – Rain Dance Festival. Modelled after eastern Australian festivals such as Earth Frequencies and Rainbow Serpent, the crew at Pulp Glitchin’ pieced together an impressive EDM line-with a focus on psytrance and drums ‘n’ bass. This, complemented by a marketplace full of independent and passionate owners, a stunning locale and most significantly, a community unlike any other, had provided an experience never to be forgotten.
Set in a large field near the town of Boddington, there was plenty of space for our tribe to set up and form a temporary homestead. With gazebos, trestle tables and tents set up, I travelled out into the festival to explore what it had to offer. It was not long before I realised something about this event that truly set it apart from other festivals I had attended in the past; its focus. Whilst the majority of other festivals, especially in Western Australia, are almost exclusively music focused – GTM, Fall’s and even Southbound from days yonder come to mind – Rain Dance split its focus over three main areas; music, lifestyle, and community.
The music was primarily EDM with DnB and psytrance dominating the line-up, particularly once the clock passed 6 pm. With the one dedicated music stage open on the first day, I found myself enjoying a more chilled plan of attack and, along with many others it seemed, aimed to keep the first night somewhat early to ensure energy for the bigger second night. Saying that though, I did stay up to witness one of my favourite Perth DJs, T R I P L E T T provide a wild ride with her psytrance set despite an hour delay pushing her back to 2:30 in the morning.
These delays and theme of running behind schedule became a trend as in the next day, they didn’t manage to get the main stage set up properly until close to sunset and formed my primary criticism of the weekend. For next time, they might find it much more beneficial setting up the main stage on the first night, even choosing to set up the secondary stage the day after to avoid this. This wouldn’t completely solve the issue though and despite this, the organisers made the decision to keep to the set times on track throughout day two of the event and worked their way through the situation as best they could.
The daylight hours of the second day provided a blend of house and techno to keep us moving, but it was the entrancing performance by Music from the Skye at the Lifestyle Village that truly caught my attention and stole the show. Building her music up based off the energy of her audience, she utilised her various skills; creating a rhythm with her beatboxing skills, looping her guitar into it and then gracing us with some stunning and ethereal vocals over the top. Think an improvising and ever-adaptable Tash Sultana. None of her music is written down prior to her performance, and as a result she seemed to have the perfect song to soothe and captivate her audience, quickly drawing in a crowd; myself included.
As night crept in, the population of the festival swelled and the growing energy was electric. Music at the first-night stage, Earthship, evolved into Drums ‘n’ Bass and psytrance took over the now fully formed main stage, Water Temple. It became immediately clear that this was what the crowd was here for. Outfits, face paint, and fire staffs began appearing whilst the dancefloor populations leapt in numbers. In response, the organisers unleashed their light show to match and the party truly kicked off. The following hours were a mash of wiggly visuals, mung beans, and increasingly energetic dancing.
All this leading towards my most anticipated set of the night, Dank Stank, who was booked to come on at 3 am. As his bush prog took us all on a journey, the somewhat chilly temperature of 2o seemed to vanish and the now muddy ground pulsed with the movement of hundreds of stomping feet. The collective impact of the light show, main stage design and mist created a scene as visually stunning as it was pleasing auditory wise. Notably, after Dank Stank’s set finished, the dance floor population appeared to half as many people retreated to the warmth of nearby fires or their tent, myself amongst them.
Despite all my talk about the music, the lifestyle and community aspects of this festival played just as significant a role. Workshops were put on at the lifestyle village throughout and included activities such as contact dancing, eye gazing and acro-yoga. Almost all activities and performances found here were wholesome and provided a wonderful, soulful change of tone from the electronic beats found elsewhere on festival grounds. The hippie community definitely made up a significant proportion of the attendees and the values associated with them were certainly reflected at Rain Dance.
In fact, the festival was an almost exact amalgamation of the hippie beliefs; combining universal peace, love, and brotherhood with the anarchism of psychedelia – found in the music and artistic designs of the stage. These extended into the expression of oneself. Meeting a variety of people throughout my days at the festival provided a vast array of unique experiences as every individual was just that – an individual. People were more than willing to express themselves and this went a long way into creating an environment of self-expression and discovery. I certainly feel as if I have learned a great deal about myself throughout this experience; something I value more highly than any musical act witnessed.
Condensing this festival into a concise piece of writing was beyond difficult. More difficult still was translating the atmosphere and my experiences into coherent sentences. Rain Dance Festival provided experiences in excess; from the music to the workshops to the people you meet. Whilst future instalments could benefit from a rethinking of stage set-up and organisation, the crew at Pulp Glitchin’ worked through it and did not let it significantly impact the event. Ultimately, my time at Rain Dance was not only a good time but an enlightening one. It shone light on aspects of myself and provided a welcoming environment conducive to self-expression and growth. If you get the chance to venture to a festival like this in the future, don’t hesitate as it will provide an experience like no other!