ARCADIA (AKA that big fire-breathing spider thing)
Arcadia was something I wasn’t prepared for at all. I mean, obviously I knew it’d be cool, it’s a goddamn 50 tonne fire-breathing mechanical spider after all. But I intentionally avoided researching the event too much. I didn’t want to go in with expectations. I wanted to be shocked, stunned, stupefied. I was.
Fresh from igniting festival-goers at the UK’s iconic music extravaganza Glastonbury, Arcadia settled in its new residence, the gorgeous Elizabeth Quay. With the river flowing on the South side and the towering backdrop of the city skyline to the North, the Arcadia Spider was enclosed, obscured from outsiders, disconnected from the rest of the world. It was its own world. A futuristic fusion of fire and lighting and laser lighting. Populated by the Arcadians, a passionate people, gathered by chance to reach a state of trance where they can release their inhibitions, relax and dance.
As the sun set the extraordinary Yallorr Keeninyarra performed a dance to unite the Arcadia spider and the sacred Wadjuk spider of Garrgatup (Kings Park) and weave a web of togetherness and mutual understanding throughout the Nations to celebrate the human spirit in the form of dance.
Yet as the sky lost its colour the Spider gained ferocity. A dynamic host of electronic artists including Black & Blunt, Boneflip, Loston and Kovaxx amped up the temperature before influential British electronic group Leftfield took to the techno heart of the spider, entering the space-age DJ booth suspended over the dance floor. As acrobats flew and flailed in the grip of the Spider, the mechanical monster disco-ed and intermittently erupted - blasting 15-metre high fireballs into the sizzling sky to the sound of Leftfield’s progressive fusion of house with dub and reggae.
But before veteran London producer Shy FX unleashed his drum and bass jungle anthems on the Arcadians, the spider slumbered as a unique and incredible show became the focus: the Lords of Lightning. Arguably the highlight of the night, two electrical wizards engaged in an epic battle, their power supplied and made possible by the Tesla coil. Wielding four million volts of electricity through their bodies, red and blue clashed in an amazing electrified duel which felt like a new sci-fi fantasy blending Harry Potter and Star Wars.
But as the crowd cheered for the miraculous performance from the Lords of Lighting, the Spider awoke from its slumber in a fiery explosion. Andre Williams’ (Shy FX) ragga-ruffneck style was ideal for the heated occasion, delivering adrenaline building drum and bass interspersed with chilled reggae beats to recover from the sensory overflow. Somehow, the Jamaican vibes contrasted fantastically with the mechanical might of the spider, as the smooth reggae undertone was perfect to allow you to take a moment and really absorb the experience.
Arcadia truly was the ultimate immersive experience. It was a psychedelic paradise, stimulating the senses with an incredible light show, engrossing beats, and whiffs of smoke following rushes of heat. But due to the 360-degree nature of the event, perhaps the best aspect was the room to dance and move around freely; to express yourself without being suffocated by constricting crowds. Rather, it fostered a spirited, loving, peaceful, zealous environment, with a benevolent sense of bewilderment in the air. Along with the huge spouts of fire - have I mentioned them yet?