Words: Dylan Smith
Wise words Alice. Wise Words. Having also been to Wonderland I can attest to Alice’s claims of self-transformation. While some may fiddle with their fingers and their thumbs in the game of smash mouth semantics and claim that the Wonderland I experienced ‘wasn’t the same Wonderland’, there’s really no point in trying to debunk a subjective experience. Impossible or otherwise, Alice clearly gave no shits, so let’s begin.
December 19th, Langley Park. I’m just a stone’s throw from Perth’s river as the sun ticks past its one o’clock position. Flocks of eager Stüssy enthusiasts and their acquaintances filter through a checkpoint where they’re haphazardly searched for illicits. Beyond this threshold…Wonderland.
Upon arriving I’m met with bumper cars, gigantic spinning ride-things, and a stage. The first to step up to the auditory plate? Koi Child. For those previously acquainted, the Child’s set was a breath of fresh air for starving lungs. For those not so familiar, soon would they appreciate the swaying Perth hip-hop, with a recognisably Cat Empire sound.
Following on, an American import; LA Producer Sweater Beats. This guy knew a tune or two let me tell you. The forecast was 24° C, however the weather oracles clearly did NOT take into account the slight chance of dank Filipino/American music producers in the east-westerly area of Wonderland dropping some heeeaaattt. A personal highlight was his the decision to bust out Vincent’s (formerly XVII) remix of Alison Wonderland’s U Don’t Know… a little touch of foreshadowing I much appreciated.
With that, act one drew to a close, and just like in maths, chapter two closely followed. I call this chapter ‘Escape 2 Africa’. The Dune Rats then swept out onstage and ushered us forward. My favourite moment? Their hungover rendition of Blister in the Sun. The crowd thusly concurred.
Meanwhile, humidity dusted the cheeks of those grazing in the yards of the Teepee Village. Several bars offered to satiate a thirst driven by more than base desires for hydration, while several others offered merchandise to quench the patronages tantamount lust for vanity. Local food icons, Toastface Grillah had also taken up residence for the day.
Soon SAFIA took to the stage, steering teeth-first into an absolute thresher of a funk driven beat. Pelvises everywhere echoed with the cries of attrition; ‘I repent, allow me now to shake my hips as a sign of respect to this groovy-ass beat’.
Following SAFIA came Hot Dub Time Machine, an act to define the throwback. This set included hits from a diverse selection, including The Jackson Five, James Brown, Nirvana, and even Rage Against the Machine. Hot Dub does what he wants, he won’t do what you tell him.
As act two of three came to a close, the sun began its descent, and in its place wafted an ephemeral gift; a brilliant blue sky with smashed peach clouds. The Kite String Tangle managed to typify this organic masterpiece, accenting the profoundly transient quality of live music. A handful of new songs were played, SAFIA stepped out for a bit of a collab, and by way of Arcadia, the KST managed to slow the Earth’s orbit for about 4 minutes. It felt like walking on the moon.
Darkness now stained the sky. Those in attendance were either stood amongst the crowd, or sat comfortably around a meal; paella, pizza, gözleme…festival food is a multicultural furnace. Broods had now taken to the stage. Mid set, the Aucklanders relented Bridges to the pre-mature anticipation of the crowd, and ended with Mother & Father.
If Wonderland’s festival organisers intended to wave a giant hand in front of the crowd, gesturing towards the future of music, then they succeeded in doing so by headlining the trap/future bass goddess Alison Wonderland. And they chose one humble goddess at that. She even managed to connect with the crowd on a whole other level, relating her track U Don’t Know to her depression, and proclaiming “I swear to god it gets better”. And just as she proclaimed it gets better, it did, as Morgan and Fletcher of Slumberjack burst onstage as Naked began to play. The pantheon was complete.
Despite my best attempts at conveying the events of Wonderland, the night was ultimately ineffable. No single element held sole propensity over its success. I could argue that, to be at Wonderland one must have merely existed from 1pm till 10pm of the 19th of December 2015, and therefore we were all in attendance. But, philosophy aside, I’m glad I was physically present. If you weren’t? Don’t fret. The true Wonderland…
…but also it’s probably next year as well.