As the chartered bus bound for Hot Dub Wine Machine sits in traffic, my boyfriend and I ration out the dregs of our roadie, regretting like hell having chosen seats in front of ‘the lads’. For the second or third or nineteenth time, the guy behind me calls down to the bus driver, “Hey Neil, show us your dick”. If I were Neil, I wouldn’t disregard charging for sexual harassment.
Getting off the bus, my mind is like wine wine wine wine wine wine wine…
We move past our mates from the bus and leave them behind and in the past forever as we head into the VIP area. It’s on a hilltop with the winery restaurant, the smell of seared salmon fillets wafts in the breeze. Everyone here is chill and civilised and there are wrought iron chairs and a good view of the stage – it’s a huge relief. We grab a bottle of sparkling and get comfy.
The natural surrounds are stunning, particularly considering recent environmental disasters, which lasted up until about yesterday. Beautiful undulating hills topped with native trees. Layers of cloud, some just dark enough to be ominous but also a blessing because they block out the merciless sun. The organisers of Queensland’s inaugural Hot Dub Wine Machine have scouted out a ripper festival spot, bringing aptitude to the term ‘boutique festival’.
Perth trio Crooked Colours play in dappled light to a confused-looking crowd, most of them probably coming down from their second pinger of the afternoon. The band’s pieces are distinctive and layered; I’m reminded of the warbling vocals of Glass Animals and the calculated distortions of Flume. There’s an interesting juxtaposition between the cool of Crooked Colours and the vacillating egos of the drug-altered crowd.
Having realised that most of his audience has grown up watching the Nickelodeon classic Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Young Franco poignantly works some audio from the theme song into a track. Aptly nostalgic and on-the-ball. “Thank you so-fucking-much”, he says as he leaves the stage. What a legend. Hang on – he’s just announced he’s going to get a photo out the front of his crowd *goin mad* for Franco’s sik beatz (total Martin Garrix moment) and he’s gonna put it on his Insta with some fish-eye lens to make it look weightier than it is, like he’s playing at Pitchfork Festival in London.
Pnau are excellent. Their music was made to be played live and with the dark rural night sky as a backdrop, their electric-coloured visuals pop. I’m reminded of how many times in their enduring career their singles have continued to pierce through a sea of dance music, distinguishing Pnau as continuous inventors of wonky pop.
The theatrical count-down to Hot Dub Time Machine leaves me expecting something more hype-worthy than the primary school disco Tom Loud has to offer…
Literally consisting of 15-second excerpts of hits from the last 50 years, I can see where the time machine comes in, but where is the dub? There’s no layering or alteration to the tracks, not even an additional beat track over top. When he pauses a song and says into the silent night air “Yeahhh Brisbane”, it feels like high time we wave Ocean View Estate good-bye.
“Who’s got drugs, who wants money?” one buck calls out to the rest of the bus as we head off. The point is that the prevalence of this behaviour isn’t tied to this festival. The festival was cool; all personnel associated with the event’s running were great, the location was mint, the wine was crisp. But this culture that emerges with boozing goes beyond obnoxiousness; it’s steeped in a tendency to assert dominance and intimidate others.
I can’t review this festival and not mention this aspect of the social dynamics because honestly, it dominated the whole experience. What does this mean about the social culture that we Australians hold so dear to us and take so much pride in?