Live Review: Secret Garden Festival - Cobbitty (28.02.15)

A magical, wild and completely creative festival of music and art, Secret Garden Festival 2015 once again proved itself to be an event well worth experiencing. A camping festival that spans from Friday 27th to Saturday 28th February, Secret Garden is on a beautiful farm out in Cobbitty NSW, just an hour’s drive from Sydney yet well and truly removed from the city scene.

Crafted by farm raised Clare Downes seven years ago to support her chosen charity, the festival has now expanded into something truly cherished and celebrated by the thousands of attendees who turns up in their fantastical costumes, set up their tents and then go on to lap up the wondrous spectacles and music that is on offer. In addition to this, with the festivals expansion the Secret Garden crew are now able to donate to even more charities, bring in even more live acts and bring in an even bigger crowd of revelers.

While unfortunately unable to make it to the Friday festivities, I have heard strong reports about acts including the dangerously raucous Little Bastard, indie rock act Gang of Youths and rockers Spookyland. Moving on to what was a scorching Saturday, across the four stages we were spoilt for choice – having the options of seventies disco style music on the #CAMPQUEEN stage (aka on the tennis court), major bands of a wide caliber on the Garden and Birthday stages and the more experimental acts in the peaceful and hidden Fern Gully. After kicking off at 11:00am with acts including the incredible bluesgrass/country/folk six piece band The Morrisons, the day started out with great promise.

After the garage pop of Velociraptor, the most amped up and truly captivating act of the afternoon would have to have been Steve Smyth. With his soaring, soulful vocals, Steve Smyth plays vigorous rock music with glorious melody. In addition to the older and much loved “No Man’s Land” from his debut album Release, Smyth brought out newer tracks from latest albums Exits including “Shake It” and the foot stomping “Get On”. Another highlight of the afternoon would have to be Brooklyn based band Lake Street Dive, playing stunning indie soul and jazz. While the majority of the crowd were sitting back in the shade for this set, it was still clear that Rachael Price’s stunning vocals made a huge impact, as did their interesting use of trumpet and rich double bass.

Another big favourite of the festival would have to be Jack Ladder and the Dreamlanders. A five piece Sydney band, it is Jack’s deep and moving vocals and their soulful sound that brings in the listener. Playing music that brings the softer side of Nick Cave to mind, these guys brought out a repertoire of impressive tracks including the hip swinging “Barber’s Son”, and many more from their latest release Playmates. Moving over to the Garden Stage, Little May played their joyful indie pop to a huge and admiring crowd. In addition to bringing out their hits, it was perhaps their cover of the Icehouse classic “Great Southern Land” that gained the best response.

Following Sharon Van Etten’s soothing set, The Griswolds came on set as The Kisswolds, dressed up beautifully as KISS. Performing their cheerful, upbeat indie pop that brings the joyful sounds of Jinja Safari to mind, these guys had the crowd enthralled – closing with their much loved and super catchy single “Beware the Dog”. Back over at the Birthday Stage for Fishing, and it was around this time that the crowds had well and truly relaxed, running amuck and dancing across the site. Dressed as ghosts, the two piece that is Fishing played tribal edgy beats that kept the crowd dancing from start to finish.

Closing the night with more synth pop and dance acts on each stage (especially on the techno #CAMPQUEEN stage), this party went on into the early hours. A spectacular, joyful and unique event that ought to win all of the prizes for creativity