Fittingly, our ascent to Paradise is delayed. The original plan was for our esteemed editorial team to wrap up work, jump in the car, and leg it straight to Lake Mountain Alpine Resort in time to catch festival opener RaRa. But, as we’re all writers, we have no concept of responsible time management and managed to fuck that all up. After languishing in purgatory (aka our online editor’s ’89 Mitsubishi Magna) for a few hours, we arrived in the dark, stepping out of the car to the cool mountain air and the faint sounds of Oscar Key Sung’s honey-dipped vocals floating across the resort.
The festivities were in full swing by the time we arrived, and if it weren’t the consideration of a couple of legends (you know who you are) who staked us a campsite then we probably would have spent the weekend sleeping in the car.
After hastily pitching a tent in the dark, and coming to terms with the crushing realisation that we’re probably not the natural outdoorsmen that we fancy ourselves to be, we got amongst the action.
Paradise is by no means an ordinary festival: while it has all the trappings of your standard two-days-in-a-tent Australian summer bash, it’s the details that set it apart. First, the location is beyond spectacular. The bushfires that ravaged this part of Victoria in early 2009 have made an indelible mark on the landscape, as the ghostly remains of gum trees stand sentry around the entire perimeter of the resorts.
There are signs of new life everywhere, with lush foliage and regrowth at every turn. It’s not hard to see how the minds behind the event landed on the moniker ‘Paradise’. But before this turns all neo-hippie, being on a luxury ski resort also comes with its own inherent advantages. The team behind the event have managed to wrangle access to many of the on-site facilities, meaning that there’s catering, indoor spaces, and, most importantly, clean bathroom and shower facilities.
Striking this balance between practicality and luxury is the key to Paradise, allowing revellers to get as down and dirty as they want in the twilight hours, while still having the option to reclaim their dignity come morning time.
Musically, Paradise draws heavily from its local Melbourne scene. The festival’s ethos is centred on the premise that it’s possible to bring a drawcard lineup without relying on overseas names to pad out the bill. It’s an admirable (and refreshing) approach to curating an event, as festivals increasingly rely on showstopping marquee names to draw crowds to their events.
The DIY aspect of Paradise also brings an element of community to the event that’s absent from many of the Coca-colonised larger festivals. Among the 1,400 strong crowd, it was almost impossible to wander too far without bumping into a friend, neighbour, or acquaintance.
Among the ACCLAIM team, performance standouts included the trap-steeped future beats of UV Boi, the tireless turnt-up energy that DEER brings to every set, Kirin J Callahan’s particular brand of sonic abrasiveness, Jahnne’s debut house performance, and the serotonin rush of Klo and Banoffee’s back-to-back sunset sets.
All too soon the weekend came to an end, and we were forced to give up our mountain paradise and retreat back to our regular lives. Hit the gallery for a look at the festival through our eyes, and, in the immortal words of The Drunk Mums, “Cheers as.”