Words: Alicia How
I don’t think many people knew what to expect when they ventured from their isolated corners of Perth to the gorgeous tourist spot that is our Swan Valley for Hot Dub Wine Machine last weekend. A quick breeze over the socials before the event promised something huge for the last leg of this month long tour which took place at Houghton Winery on that sunny Saturday. Whether or not people were ready for it (I certainly had no idea) Hot Dub Time Machine brought one hell of a party (or chardy, if we’re feeding the promo hype).
As punters eased into the beautiful Saturday afternoon sun that Perth turned on for us, accessibility into this sold out festival proved to be a bit of hassle. With the winery being well off the beaten track many attendees opted for shuttle buses or lifts from cars. Most of us though had a bit of a walk with all the traffic congestion, but once we walked en masse to the entrance we were rewarded with a real treat. The Houghton Winery was dressed to the nines with the beautiful scenery as a base for the festival decorations, beautiful vine-covered archways greeted us as we entered, and our expectations of things being just that little-bit-more-fancy were definitely met.
The stage set up left some of Perth’s smaller debut festivals (Falls Downtown) looking like a tiny backyard set up compared to what Hot Dub had brought to play with. Booming sound systems and a ginormous stage adorned with Hot Dub banners brought the punters the first live set of the day, Running Touch whose crystal-y and euphoric tunes eased us into the magic that was set to ensue. This was the perfect time to indulge in many of the pleasures that the festival had on offer, beautiful house wines from Houghton alongside classic festival favourites (hipster brews of beer). Houghton Shiraz, Sauv Blanc, and Rosé were all reasonably priced and paired great with the specialist cheese boards that were also on offer either to be pre-ordered before the festival or bought on the grounds. The ironically named VIP section ‘The Goonies’ provided its own perks for the average cheap wine enthusiast like myself, however much to my disappointment I could not order a 35c cup of Coolabah ‘Soft Fruity White’ but opted rather for a specialist Houghton Frozé because like I said, this festival felt just that little-bit-more-fancy.
As the afternoon wore on and the fill in Pilerats DJs finished up their set and made way for Crooked Colours, the festival’s vibe changed dramatically. Leaving the VIP section to really soak up the vibes being thrown around we were greeted with a special band of punters who frothed for the ‘doof artists’ or seemed to have come to the festival not for the music, but for other recreations. On asking one guy I found dancing in the crowd he told me “I think I’m probably going to leave before Hot Dub even comes on, the rest of the lineup was just too good to miss.” For this crowd (myself included) Crooked Colours did not disappoint, their base EDM sound paired with live guitar riffs and live vocals made for a glorious and rich sounding set which echoed amazingly from the stage to the quickly filling festival ground. The sultry vocals paired with the bouncy baselines have often been compared with acts like Alt-J and Crystal Castles but I personally was picking up a very Jagwar Ma vibe as their songs began to feel larger than life, and definitely larger than the online medium that had confined them before they were able to play at festivals like this.
If doof is what the punters wanted, doof is what was delivered, the buzz from the crowds I met seemed to be around two heavyweights, Miami Horror and PNAU who both delivered outstanding sets for the extreme dancer in all of us. Miami Horror, whether you knew them before the festival or not became quick favourites with their classic pop-synth sound. Their track Sometimes has done the rotations around the Triple J playlist and elicited an excited reaction as the groovers danced through a stunning sunset.
With heavy, dubstep inspired sets from Tina Says on either side of the Miami Horror set, the pace and enthusiasm from patrons never waivered, fuelled by wine and good vibes the mass of people prepared themselves for the second biggest headliner PNAU. Having played a set at Villa Nightclub the night before the boys brought a level of intensity not yet reached throughout the long afternoon. Opening with their absolute banger of a track Wild Strawberries hailing from 2009 their set was almost explosive, with drops that were gut busting and mind blowing, the crowds ebbed and flowed with the EDM until of course the boys stepped it up a notch by finally playing their track Chameleon which I’m sure would be a huge highlight in every set they play around the country following its huge success on the charts last year.
The hype around Hot Dub Time Machine’s set grew to uncharted levels at this point with a giant countdown appearing on the stage as things were getting prepared for the biggest set of the night. The eruptive two-hour set followed all of Hot Dub classic features but with a whole array of new features. It was one giant party, with one form of pyrotechnics going off every 5 minutes. I honestly thought Hot Dub couldn’t pull out much more, until about twenty giant inflatable ‘HOT DUB’ branded balls were tossed into the crowd and were kicked and pushed around by the bouncing mass of people enjoying the tunes. While I felt that the two-hour set felt like a bit of an endurance trial for myself, the set brought out a massively diverse range of aged patrons who had been hiding all afternoon under the pines and were now letting loose and dancing just as hard to their favourite 70s’ and 80s’ hits. In short, Hot Dub Time Machine, whilst gimmicky and repetitive, is definitely one giant crowd pleaser.
It would impossible to do justice in a condensed word limit on just how unexpectedly huge this debut festival was, but if you ask any of the 12’500 West Aussies who attended last weekend they’ll tell you the same thing; that no one knew what to expect and although it was a fat trek, what a surreal and giant treat it was. A giant treat indeed.