Party In The Paddock – FINALE!
February 6 – 8 2020
White Hills, Lutruwita TAS
I fear I may date myself quite catastrophically in saying so, but… I pretty much never go to festivals for the music. To be honest, I’m at that age where I don’t know like 93% of the bands playing, and I’m starting to reach the point where I honestly don’t actually give a shit about it, either. Festivals are a young man’s game.
Except when they’re not.
This year’s Party In The Paddock – the final year for the production – really took me aback. Going into it, I knew a few of the acts playing (Hermitude, Briggs, Sneaky Sound System, Dune Rats, The Chats, and a handful of others), but I expected when I arrived, I’d be surrounded exclusively by teenage hedonists in the middle of a valley field. I was kind of shocked when I saw that, while yes, the demographic did skew youthful – there was much more of a presence of folks my age roaming around and in the mix as well. In fact, there was at least one attendee in their mid-70s, so that theory about it being for the youth kind of goes a bit off the rails.
Party In The Paddock itself has been one of the more special festivals, owing in no small part to its location. Hosted at White Hills, nestled in a valley at the foothills of lutruwita (Tasmania)’s imposing Ben Lomond plateau, the festival site is one of those special places that carries a special vibe – an immediate emotional richness that washes over you when you arrive on site. Fitting, then, that to even enter the main festival grounds, revelers walk through an area known as Vibestown.
Vibestown is a pretty rad place. Its mission is simple: no bad vibes. It’s designed to be inclusive, non-judgmental, and generally just a home for people to feel good. After watching literally hundreds of punters take in a dance class while bleary-eyed on the Saturday and absolutely love it, I’d say the stated mission was accomplished. It was also genuinely one of the coolest experiences I’ve seen at a live show, of which I’ve now seen several thanks to my sideline as a rock journo.
I sadly missed a lot of the stuff I wanted to see because I only got there on Saturday (well… Friday night at like 10:30 after a mad dash from my actual job… a casual 4 hour drive through the island’s midlands), but suffice it to say that everybody was in fine form for the very last PITP Saturday.
Possibly the most surreal experience of all was the March. This event traditionally took place at 4:20pm on the Saturday afternoon as a way for the attendees to express inclusivity and pride, and was never a dull time. This year easily eclipsed last year’s efforts for how varied the outfits were, and moreover, how amped the crowd was. The march concluded with a surging mass of thousands of bodies dancing with their eyes fixated on an empty stage. And not one single fuck was given. For that entire time, I did not see a single frown… you sort of get this intense contact high from so many carelessly joyous people, and it’s hard not to just let go and go with it.
I spent most of my time taking in the crowds, being asked about 1,702 times to take pictures for people. But that’s what makes an experience like PITP so cool, people want to have their photograph taken. They want people to see the effort they put into their costumes – and once the light dropped away and the night got cold, their commitment to continuing wearing them.
All in all, PITP is one of the cooler ways you can spend a weekend. It’s a shame to see it go, but I’ve no doubt that something will rise from the ashes to fill its place. It has to.
Rest in Party ~ PITP
Party In The Paddock