Festival Director Goose McGrath invites us into The Pleasure Garden

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Festival Director Goose McGrath invites us into The Pleasure Garden


The Pleasure Garden festival may just be the ideal way to kick-start your summer. This vibrant event boasts a dazzling program overflowing with music, theatrical performances and art installations. The eclectic lineup of musical acts manages to embrace everything from the gypsy folk of 8 Foot Felix, to hip hop superstar Remi, and genre-splicing dub-based sonic goodness like Fat Freddy’s Drop.

In a world that seems to be rife with unnecessary division and a staggering degree of social and political tumultuousness, festivals such as The Pleasure Garden provide an opportunity for escapism, connection and rejuvenation.

 “I think the festival provides an anaesthetic in the fact that you can go and separate yourself from the world,” says Festival Director Goose McGrath. “A valuable role of any proper creative art space is that you can, on one level, anesthetise yourself and go ‘Ok, I’m going to go to another world. I am going to go into an imaginary wonderland; a place that I know is full of happiness and joy. I’m going to ignore, just for a day, what’s going on out there.’ That can help recharge your batteries.”

It is true that this process can have wide-reaching benefits. “The festival can act like a real antidote,” McGrath says. “The biggest problem we have in society – not just in Australia but globally – is a disconnection of community.

“If we can create these environments that encourage people to connect with each other on almost a child-like level, on a pure level of joy and fun, then that emotional memory is something that they will take back to their own community. If you can take something that inspires you and brings joy and happiness to your life and then take that back and spread that joy, happiness and openness, I think that creates a better connectivity for everyone.”

The musical lineup certainly seems destined to ignite this contagious sense of joy, and it’s clear that a great deal of thought has gone into the selection of musical acts.

 “We try to make sure we have a good reggae, dub and bass component as well as hip hop and electronic music,” McGrath says. “We try to make sure that we have good cultural and gender diversity. We have about 45% females on the lineup.”

Fat Freddy’s Drop are the perfect fit for a festival that fosters connection and inclusivity rather than division and fragmentation.

“Essentially, they are a dub act but they translate through all the different genres,” McGrath says. “People who listen almost exclusively to techno get Fat Freddy’s Drop. People who listen to dub like Fat Freddy’s Drop. There are people who are 45 years old and are from the Alpine regions of Victoria who love Fat Freddy’s Drop. They mix genres and styles. They have got something that can transcend age, denomination and gender. When we first started the festival they were on the top of our list of acts we wanted because we thought they best represented the environment and the vibe we are trying to create, so we are super excited to have them on this year.”

Complementing all this exciting music is a colourful selection of art and theatre. “Immersive, colour, movement and joy. That’s probably the easiest way to sum [The Pleasure Garden] up. There will be loads of roving theatrical performances,” McGrath says. “We also have participation aspects as well. The dress-up theme this year is Birds of Paradise. We have a dress-up and dance-off competition. There will also be loads of installation art. We curate that from people from all around Australia.”

Contemplating the festival’s future, McGrath says, “We are happy with our position as one of the first parties of the summer. We are going to continue to develop and curate a more immersive and creative experience for patrons over the years to come and to connect more and more with developing artists. We want to continue to develop and nurture creativity in multiple streams of art forms as the years progress.”

The future certainly looks bright in The Pleasure Garden.