Arriving in Launceston felt like an exhale. Finally touching down interstate, I felt myself relax in every way as the stress of PCR tests, crossing borders, rising case numbers and a whole damn Greek alphabet of viral variants melted away.
And if arriving in Launceston was an exhale, Party in the Apocalypse was a breath of fresh air. The two-day festival filled my lungs with the kind of carefree bliss that has been so absent from many of our lives over the past two years.
This new, COVID-safe reimagining of the beloved Party in the Paddock held just the right amount of nostalgia and fresh entertainment value, with many of the young punters attending a music festival for the first time.
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The unavoidable uncertainty of pandemic life saw the festival go through a few changes, to its date and its lineup, but the eventual offering of 21 stellar acts from across the country was as hot as the Tasmanian sun, just with no UV damage.
Last minute addition Client Liaison, who joined the party in place of San Cisco, was an absolute highlight. Their presence was so refreshing, dressed in head-to-toe pastel outfits and emanating their signature, effortless retro cool.
The wind instrument was to their set as the QR code was to 2021, just everywhere. Their ‘Groove is in the Heart’ cover opted for a flute to play the famous riff, and clarinets – a chronically underused instrument – were prominently featured alongside the flute and saxophone.
‘Turn Up the Sound of Freedom’ could’ve been the festival’s anthem. It was perfect for the occasion. If anyone hadn’t been dancing prior, this was the song to draw them in. It felt like midnight on New Year’s Eve in the best possible way.
They’d followed another highlight, Brisbane band Cub Sport, who were mesmerising. The crowd were treated to a great – if bit short – set, that included a cover of Billie Eilish’s ‘when the party’s over’, and a new song ‘Always Got the Love’ – which slaps – before finishing in perfect, emotional style with ‘Come on Mess Me Up’. Every voice that could, joined in.
In Instagram and Twitter posts following the festival, vocalist Tim Nelson confessed how grateful he was to perform again. During the performance, that passion, that joy, was palpable. The performance was transcendent.
Each night of the festival was closed with a feast for the senses, in the form of PNAU and Lime Cordiale respectively. Both acts brought high-energy, dance-all-night vibes to the stage, which permeated throughout the crowd.
And though the nights were great, the daylight brought just as many excellent acts.
On day one, Sneaky Sound System was every bit as fun as you’d imagine. At one point, the sound for the band abruptly stopped working mid-song, and though this was not ideal, it let Connie Mitchell’s voice shine for what it really is – spectacular.
“Up the Jackies” proclaimed frontman Tyler Richardson as Luca Brasi took to the stage wearing a Jack Jumper jersey and exuding Tasmanian Pride.
The Launceston natives were unquestionably one of the most anticipated bands of the event, and they did not disappoint. Circle pits were danced in, lyrics were screamed, and everywhere you looked, a punter was dressed in a piece of their merch.
Meanwhile, Hobart five-piece bocce won their place on the lineup in an Unearthed competition for the festival, and also won over plenty of new fans with their easy-going presence and earnest vocals.
From one end of this great country to the other, Darwin-based King Stingray made quite a journey to join day two of the Apocalypse, and it was better for them. The triple j Unearthed Artist of the Year put on a show worthy of their title, and demonstrated why they’ve so quickly become a must-see Aussie act.
Ruby Fields was delightful, performing a setlist filled to the brim with new material, and finishing with everyone’s favourite ‘Dinosaurs’.
Honestly, you’d be hard pressed to find a better way to end your year than attending this festival. When not sipping Boags Red or Three Cuts gin, we were wearing masks, but it was certain that beneath each of them was a smile.
How fitting that it was called a Party in the Apocalypse, for it truly feels like the end of times. The end of times as once known, at least, and that’s not a bad thing.
We may no longer be the innocent festival goers who enjoyed hijinks in a paddock without knowing what an epidemiologist was, but we are also no longer the masses locked in our homes awaiting vaccinations and baking sourdough. There are good times ahead!
This festival celebrated that new dawn with all the grandeur it deserved. And it felt good.
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