Festival Review: Wonderland – Kitchener Park, Perth (03.12.16)

It felt like barely yesterday that we were heading through the gates at Langely Park for a memorable festival, but already it was time for the next transformed iteration of the Wonderland festival experience. Moved to the lush forest of Kitchener Park in Subiaco, it really did take on an enchanted vibe as the crowd gallivanted down the aisle of pine trees with flower wreath booths and gourmet donuts on one side and the ‘Wasteland’ DJ cavern on the other. The chilled out beer garden at the end of the line offered a peaceful refuge with even more countertop tunes keeping you in the mood before you hit the divide.

When the map was first released, I was a little concerned at how running between the two halves of the park layout would work but it was honestly seamless, not once did I hit any crowd congestion, and having the mainstage completely on its own was perfect. There were enough amenities on either side that lines weren’t an issue and it just really enhanced the relaxed spirit of the day.

Pretty happy with how our adventureland was looking it was time for the music to take over.  Three Hands One Hoof scored the opening slot of the day, and while the crowd were touch and go with the stormy skies looming over head (so much for intermittent cloud weather app), they kicked out some solid tunes with the end of their set giving off some serious Gang of Youths vibes.

There was enough time to grab a drink and experience the aromatic wonder that is someone leaving a fresh box of hot chips in the portaloo before Asta performed her usual killer set, garnering a respectable crowd as we danced to deep melodic tracks like fan faves “My Heart Is On Fire” and “I Need Answers”.  Asta’s indomitable stage presence was unquestionable as she sat close to the barrier to belt out her cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, hundreds of voices quick to sing passionately along.

Photo by Jack Lawrence
Photo by Jack Lawrence

Skegss fired things up after another intermission, mosh circles arising amongst the sizeable main stage throng like rip tides pulling you in to crash around to the catchy punk rock as frontman Benny Bograil careened across stage.  “Eat It” thundering over the open grounds.

And on the theme of eating everything it was time to satiate the mid festival munchies with some truly heavenly victuals from Top Dup Donuts, and I seriously wish I had one right now.  Going for the obvious choice of the maple bacon donut, I think it’s deliciousness is pretty self-explanatory with the whole maple and bacon aspect of it.

The indie pop rock stylings of The Jungle Giants really turned things up a notch as triple stacked punters and people standing on shoulders erupted everywhere, the festival was bringing out the acrobats as we jammed to every ear worm from “Mr Polite” to “Every Kind Of Way” with Cesira Aitken and Sam Hales throwing out a flurry of guitar hooks.

Some rain tried to dampen things but was quickly chased away by an ethereally kaleidoscopic set from Japanese Wallpaper as he gathered a full four piece on stage.  Sporting the bass and synths duties, vocals were passed onto Eilish Gilligan for “Forces” and “Breathe In” and just left the day feeling pretty magical as it closed out the last of the sunlight hours.  To top it all I hear a pretty sweet slinky jump rope sesh had conquered some punters.

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Taking the time during the intermission to run over to the Silent Disco tent, the main stage wasn’t the only place to party.  We took the time to do the usual channel surfing as the likes of EMAS and Labsix curated peoples wildest karoke desires with the whole tent bursting out to T Swizzle while others went heavy with smashing dub basslines.  The Silent Disco was clearly a drawcard once again as the line for entry spanned out but it was worth it for those vibes stirring inside.

Clearly keen for Round Two, Dune Rats made their sophomore return to Wonderland, the heaving crowd more than ready to return to the earlier mayhem pace with “Red Light Green Light” going off as much as possible.  A cake ran out on stage mid set for frontman and birthday boy Danny Beusa before newie “Scott Green” did the rounds and, finally, as the crowd went totally mad, “Bullshit” was unleashed.

Hayden James replenished our electronic levels with some absolutely deluxe tunes, the front rows were once again swaying with girls on shoulders and the energy James was putting out on stage was seriously infectious.  The beat was hypnotic as the festival grooved along with no sign of fatigue, surrendering to the choruses of “Just a Lover” and “Something About You”.

Photo by Jack Lawrence
Photo by Jack Lawrence

The stage was cleared and the frame setup that had been lurking side of stage all day wheeled out as our final captains for the evening suited up. Flight Facilities strapped us in for take off with Surahn Sidhu and Michaela Baranov on deck for vocal duties, bringing the festival to new heights as they held the crowd in awe. Baranov particularly shone as she executed “Crave You” and the hauntingly perfect “Claire De Lune”. The confetti canons signalling the end of the set felt far too early, and as some punters continued to shower in the confetti piles long after the acts had left it was clear there were a few still trying to cling to that euphoric feeling.

Although there were a few stumbles around gates open Wonderland truly outdid itself this year, I can’t point out anything that would have made the experience better. The crowds were gorgeous, the artists dedicated to giving us a good time, and Kitchener Park was an ace location.  It’s a festival that gives you the time to explore all of it’s offerings, with no risk of FOMO, and keeps evolving the formula that has worked so well.

Header image by Jack Lawrence.