There are few things better than the experience of getting together with people who love music, to listen to, enjoy and support music. It’s because of this that I love festivals so much, there’s just something about the electric energy of the crowds and the sheer joy of experiencing music live that keeps me coming back.
Lush this year was a polarizing experience for me as it played host to some of the best and some of the worst festival experiences I’ve ever had but to be honest, if I could go back in time, I don’t think I’d change a thing. Well, maybe the mud.
So, without further ado:
What can I say, I’m a sucker for scenery, and Clarens certainly doesn’t disappoint. For those of you who haven’t been to Lush before, just picture this: rolling green hills set in the shadows of much larger mountains. It’s a truly beautiful setting for a festival and then there’s the music.
We are so lucky to have so many unbelievably talented musicians in South Africa and Lush was a showcase for some of the best acts we have, not to mention the amazing internationals. You might be wondering what was the music like? Well, try picture this: PhFat in the woods with rain falling through the trees, rapping while strobe lights flash over a crowd that was losing its mind. Or maybe Chris Chameleon of Boo! dressed in skin-tight stripy leggings and bright red lipstick doing unimaginable things with his voice while everyone booed in delight. I’m not quite sure if you want to picture Bowling for Soup though, because I’ll be stuck with the mental images courtesy of their jokes ( which were so gross they’d make a 13 year old boy blush) for the rest of my life. Cringing at the gross jokes and resisting the urge to sprinkle holy water on stage aside, their set was a lot of fun. Hearing their hits like ‘High School Never Ends’ and ‘1985’ brought back memories of every time I’ve ever been drunk at a bar and to be completely honest, I cried when they played the Phineas and Ferb song.
We were treated to a musical spectacle which catered to our every music need. Whether it was some kak lekker vibes courtesy of Van Pletzen, or the strikingly beautiful, tug-on-your-heartstrings songs courtesy of Kyp Malone, there really was something for everyone.
Friday had festival-goers braving the rain and mud to listen to the likes of Nicpreen and The World of Birds, the always ethereal Diamond Thug and Desmond and the Tutus, whose wonderful sets were all so worth the mud, wet and tears. Dewald Wasserfall’s set was a success as it had more than a few girls literally screaming until they were hoarse.
Saturday saw the crowds out in full force as Fokofpolisiekar reminded us all that, like a damn fine whiskey, they only get better with age. Both Laura Buhren and Dave Depper’s sets were truly magical. We Are Charlie, The Lebowski, Tha Cutt and those guys that are known to make crowds deurmekaar (Bittereinder) ensured that everyone had an awesome evening and danced the cold away.
Sunday’s lineup had everyone (especially me) excited and it certainly did not disappoint, starting with amazing sets from Charlie Finch and Made For Broadway. Grassy Spark did what they do best, with an unbelievable performance and the best Easter gift ever – 3 new songs. A huge crowd gathered for Jack Parow, who’s crazy set lived up to all expectations and ensured that the festival ended on a high note.
A special mention must also go to the unconquerable human spirit (and alcohol), so strong that not even the rainiest rain or muddiest mud could stop everyone from having a good time.
Do you know what the downside to a picturesque mountain setting? Unwelcome and extreme exercise in the form of hiking. Not a professional mountain climber? Don’t run marathons in your spare time? You probably, like me, spent the majority of your festival wheezing your way up and down the hill and worrying about the state of your knees. With very few places to sit due to the muddy ground, you probably found yourself utterly exhausted. In hindsight I probably should’ve bought some active-wear and carried around a camping chair.
There are few journeys more perilous than those which involve walking downhill, on slippery, muddy ground, in the dark. Although the main stage had some of the most amazing lighting I’ve ever seen at a festival, the rest of the festival was sorely lacking in the lights needed to safely navigate the swamp-like grounds. This resulted in innumerable cases of slipping, falling and tripping on rocks, and don’t even get me started on how easy it was to lose friends.
A special mention must also go to the roving gangs of cretins who took it upon themselves to walk around general camping at 3am shouting “nou gaan ons braai”.
Due to the fact that I had forgotten the water-proof covering for our tent at home, it was only reasonable for mother nature to throw a torrential downpour our way. By the time the rain stopped and I had mustered up the courage to leave our tent, general camping had become (and would remain) something akin to Shrek’s swamp.
While some of us spent our weekend carefully squelching (oh that sound, that terrible sound) our way through muddy pits and paths, desperately trying to keep our clothes reasonably clean, others embraced their inner mudskippers to compete in some sort of mud Olympics, with each slip and slide more breathtaking than the one before.
In the end the mud took no prisoners and we all packed up our stuff, now 10kg heavier due to some particularly clingy mud, and dreaming of showers, said our goodbyes to the swamp and began the long-ish drive home. Unless of course you got your car stuck in unexpectedly deep mud and had to get towed backwards by tractor, through the middle of general camping, much to the amusement of everyone watching (like we did).
Lush this year was a celebration of music, both local and international. Not even the mud, cold and rain could take that away from us. Memories were made, clothes were destroyed and Discovery Health Insurance goals were met. All in all, it was one hell of a weekend and a big thank you must go to everyone on the Breakout team who, come rain or mud, worked tirelessly to ensure that the festival kept going no matter the weather.