Set in the simply beautiful landscape of Lake Mountain, Paradise Music Festival completely changed my perception of what a festival experience should be. On a rather chilly Friday morning, one of my closest friends and I packed together as we readied ourselves for the weekend-long trip (mainly alcohol, I might add) into my tiny little hatchback. We were so unbelievably keen that we left early in the morning, strategically allowing us time to set-up from 11am. With festivities kicking off at 4pm, we probably should have planned and viewed set times, but oh well.

Opening the start of my Paradise experience were the chilled out, down-tempo electro sounds of Leisure Suite. With gorgeous soaring vocals from Bridgette Le and beats as lush and luxurious as their name, I have no hesitation when I say the day begun with an excellent show. Joined onstage in their new touring format by solo musician Alice Ivy, her energetic presence added an extra vocal/guitar to support the already robust and talented Le. This feature added a delightful transformation from the last time I saw Leisure Suite; giving the band even more sonic depth in a way I would love to see become a permanent addition.

Following on, Lurch & Chief blew my mind in what is possible from a quartet. Their bright, warm guitar tones contrast so very well with echo filled drums and poignant, strong bass. They also feature dual vocalists, which in my opinion, give a very unique live experience. Vocalist Hayden Summerville sang with a passion unlike any I had ever seen before – his vocals vibrating with a certain roughness – juxtaposed against the smooth, clean higher harmonies from Lili Hall. After falling in love with this unique duet, it all came to climax with their track ‘Mother/Father’. The call and response hooks were brilliant in this single, effortlessly backed up with deep, catchy bass and a drum line that had the entire mosh begging for more. This was definitely the highlight track of the entire festival, with Lurch and Chief themselves having cemented themselves in a very special place in my heart.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the venue is breathtaking and unlike any other festival in Victoria (or even possibly the world). However, there is one downside worth mentioning. Even though it is the end of November and pretty much summer already – it was literally FREEZING COLD. Like, I’m talking the kind of cold that you have to wear socks on your hands, sixteen jackets and twelve beanies. Trust me, you haven’t experienced cold like the cold where you bring your sleeping bag to the mosh.

Cutting the ice, Black Cab – which comprises of singer and programmer Andrew Coates, guitarist James Lee and drummer Wes Holland – gave it their best shot at warming up a very cold crowd. As the sun began to set, Black Cab’s blend of rock and electronics burned on, their sonic shades of Europe and America in the ’70s well-received. Featuring a strong focus on keyboards and sounds loosely inspired by 1970’s East Germany; themes of surveillance, fear, anxiety and the ever-present state security create the apparatus of this dark, industrial sound. Very heavily rooted in electronica, the outfit played a myriad of tunes that had the crowd dancing in the freezing cold temperatures.

If I had to pick my favourite overall set for the festival, there would be many tough competitors. But, the award must go to Roland Tings for his stunning tropical electro magic. His track ‘Pala’ took me on a wild voyage through time and space, and I came out the other side feeling a new man. Featuring chirpy hooks, steel drums, and sounds you would probably only hear in space; Tings combined these elements with a funky bass line to create something nothing short of epic. People around me were having the boogie of their lifetime – potentially in an effort to keep slightly warm – but even more likely as a result of the stellar tunes.

To begin day two, I was lucky enough to experience that jangly surf rock tunes of Good Morning. The boys must’ve had a rather messy evening the night before because they were very, very hangover. Still remaining tight as an overall outfit, there were plenty of chords amiss here and there but no one really cared. It was a great start to what would be a lazy sunny day, with Good Morning inviting pretty much random people from the audience to sing along with them onstage. To finish their set, the exclaimed, “oh shit, we don’t really have any more songs left and we have like 7mins left”. They decided on a cover of the Victory Blinds TV ad that plagued most our teenage years. In what was obviously put together on the spot, this ‘cover’ (if you could call it that), was nothing short of hilarious.

Perth’s Tired Lion are quintessentially a proper garage band sound that is both grungy and raw, but of course, with a twist. ‘Suck’ is a real stunner of a track and Sophie Hope’s (lead vocals) voice fits it so incredibly well. Tired Lion has real contrast between their instruments and vocals, and this was a favourite among the Paradise punters. Featuring throughout their set were fierce choruses that held a distinct 90s rock vibe. In conjunction with their powerhouse vocals, the final effect was smooth yet strong. Infectious melodies, combined with raw passion from the band didn’t go amiss as they received a very warm reception from all those that got to experience a band with a clearly a very bright future in front of them.

Akin to Meredith and Golden Plains, there was a hard to enforce, but mandatory, No Dickhead Policy. It goes without saying that some of the large festivals have struggled for years to find a solution. However, I can quite easily say that Paradise had one of the most friendly and community style crowd of any festival I have attended, or probably will attend. So, please do tell your friends about this amazing festival, but don’t tell that friend to ensure we keep the peace. Only established three years ago, I hope Paradise keeps alive their idea of good music, good people and good times for many years to come.