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Rifflandia Festival Day 2 in Victoria – September 14th 2012

Sometimes – few and far between – there arrive days that implore you to lose all your troubles, days that allow you to dig your feet into unmown grasses and to open your eyes underwater. September 14th was one of those days, when the rhythm of a crowd’s singular breath moves with a simple passion that holds off time, and you can dance along with the sun and the sweet breezes and the people who look like flowers and the loving gentleness of we-are-all-here-and-together. We know, we are all here for one thing. We are here to listen.

I arrived at Royal Athletic Park to catch Band of Skulls, English darlings who seemed to land hard on the stage straight from the sky. Watching them live was like wearing a helmet but not a seatbelt, swerving around every corner and bumping with every jump, singing along if you knew the words and even if you didn’t. Everything about them said: sway with me. Usually, I find outdoor venues to be an inconvenience to the music, for the lack of reverberation waters down what could otherwise be a fervent and biting resonance, but Russell Marsden and Emma Richardson certainly bypassed any deterrent the agoraphobic space may have put up [Richardson especially possesses a vivid and powerful voice, and it would have been nice to hear it more on the forefront [but hey that is just one opinion]].

The park was such a goddamn blur that I’m having trouble remembering who was next except now I remember it was Macklemore x Ryan Lewis! Or as the lusty young girls in the audience exclaimed; “MACKLEMORE!!! MARRY ME!!!! MAAARRY MEEEEEE!” The rather persistent proposals continued until the two fruitful young men swaggered onto the stage, at which point words ceased to exist and simply melted into pure primal screams. I guess Macklemore is like the hipster’s Bieber. Which I probably should’ve expected – I do listen to their music, and it’s charmingly light, perfect for white girls who think they’re black girls. It’s rather smart hip-hop, which live was punctuated by the erotic and frenzied grunts of the gay bros sweating zestfully in front of me. The drums were a little overtly heavy, which was a shame, because the thing I enjoy most in rap is the incorporation of spoken word, and whatever M x RL had to offer got somewhat lost in the exuberant zeal of the flood of hormones that I was surfing. I have never experienced such a potent composite of weed, Old Spice, and sweat in my entire life.

I ventured over to the main stage to see a bit of the Flaming Lips, for even though their music is not particularly dear to my heart, their live show promised a colourful, explosive experiment. The audience contained a hybrid of young and old alike, beaming yuppies and confused toddlers who quickly welcomed the appearance of giant balloons with an unprecedented amount of glee, such as one that can only be brought about in the older generations by severe intoxication. Unfortunately, I was only there for about ten minutes before some technical difficulty and my pressing schedule led me to say goodbye, and see you tomorrow, to the park.

After a quick divergence, I met up with the Metro Theatre, and Christopher Smith, who must be an angel of some sort. I never expected such a fragile-looking human to be so compelling and crushing. He plays beautiful, beautiful songs. There’s fragmentation when he sings to you, something inside you shatters, but by the time his voice wavers into nothing, you are whole again. It is like having four, or five dreams in a row, like waking up inside your own head for the first time, like when you break your own heart. I love music like this, tender, escapist, music that fixes you. When he dissolves into interlude, it’s like you have been sitting still for years, as the seasons pass over you, as the sky turns to fire then ice, and when you wake up you are older. You are a ship and he is the ocean, you are an airplane and he is the cloud that you fall through.

And I can think of no one better to follow that than the duo that makes up Snowblink, of which I have nothing to say but thanks. A song with them is a walk through the forest, where sunbeams shatter on your arms and legs through canopies of trembling leaves, where when the rains fall it forms constellations on your body. It’s so celestial; delicate, thoughtful touches. I remember during the middle of a show a stranger leaned into me and whispered; “He is so in love with her, am I right?” He was right. Love is rarely so charitable to us, and this couple – the sparrow’s trill of Daniela Gesundheit and the bruised tone of Dan Goldman – is a gift. There is nothing better at night than to lose yourself in a dream, especially such an amorous one. If I can ask anything of you tonight, it would be to listen to “Inner Mini-Mississippi”. Pretty please.

Anyway, now I’m off to do it all again. Rifflandia, I’m yours tonight. Please don’t be gentle.

Photos © Alix Critchley

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