The 2017 Lost Picnic Festival took place on Sunday October 15th.. After having been on hiatus for the last three years, the organisers have found a new home in one of the city's impressive outdoor locations - The Domain. It was transformed into a bohemian wonderland of music, performances and food.
Sadly, the day was overcast but I wasn’t going to let that over shadow my plan to sit back on a blanket and enjoy a specially packed picnic hamper while tapping my feet along to the sounds from the stellar artist lineup. The biggest surprise to me as I approached the festival gate was just how family orientated the festival is. I would have to say that a good 50% of the crowd on the day were families, from kids in strollers to toddlers adorned on shoulders, to teens covered in glitter to grandmas getting their groove on the dance floor. The day was all about celebration of the soul, no matter what your age.
The music was what I was here for most. First on the schedule was Sydney based All Our Exes Live in Texas. Having never seen these ladies perform I was completely blown away. This unique folk playing four-piece consisting mandolin, accordion, ukulele and guitar sing tales of lost loves and heartache. There is so much chemistry both musically and their in-between song banter, you could get easily lost in both their harmonies and witty conversations. No wonder they seem to be collecting fans where ever they go.
Montaigne was up next. This woman is like a wild fire whenever she graces the stage, all ablaze and ready to drag you in by your collar. Opening up with “Glorious Heights”, the emotional intensity was already set. With her distinctive mix of indie and pop, combined with her vocal quirks (that could rival Kate Bush’s any day) and expressive hand gestures, Montaigne puts on a one heck of a show.
Sarah Blasko (who I’m secretly/not so secretly in love with) was mesmerising as usual. Opening with “I Am Ready,” her husky, haunting vocals drifted over the Domain, captivating all. I’m always in awe of the connection she creates with her audience; you could be swaying in a sea of people and still feel like she’s pinpointed on you and you alone. Fans were treated to a span of hits from across vast musical catalogue and also to a few new as yet unreleased tunes.
It was at this time of the night that I went to go brave the food and bar lines. Sadly this would have to be the low point of the festival. As food wasn’t permitted into the grounds, festival-goers had to rely on the venders. First and foremost kudos to the staff on the day, I know what its like to be in hospitality and could see the stress and worry on their faces as they had to tell frustrated and angry patrons about the long waits and lack of supplies.
The itself food was lovely. I had the hamper from Agape, but the hour plus cue to pick up pre-ordered hamper was a little disappointing. Bonus was toilet cues were short but that had to do more with the bar cues (once again an hour wait to order a beer) or worse was the Pimms pop up bar who were selling jugs, but sold out of jugs with in the first hour. Lost Picnic Festival is not the only festival to have this happen; Sydney is notorious for its food festival blunders. It's not clear why we can’t get it right. A queue is a promoter's worst nightmare, especially when disgruntled patrons take to internet and pour that energy into angry tweets and Instagram stories.
For me what helped is one the quality of the sound on the day. Even though the queue was long the wait was bearable with the fact that I could hear The Beatle Boys loud and clear. The other saving grace was the amount of traveling performers Lost Picnic had organised. With the experimental sounds of Junkyard Beats and the grooving sounds of the Blue Tongue Brass Bands, families were entertained just that tiny bit longer.
With hamper finally in hand, we made our way back towards the stage with enough time to scoff down our treats before the trampling masses over took the front area turning it into one huge dance floor. What caused this stampede? That would be Fat Freddy's Drop, and boy did they let those beats drop. With their mix of funk, R&B, soul and jazz, these maestros spontaneously create grooves right in front of your eyes. The joy radiated, reminding everyone the most important element of the day: Music.
Despite a few misgivings, I would certainly return to Lost Picnic and hopefully the festival will be back again to show that they have taken aboard the comments and criticisms and learned from those things that went wrong. I would hate for those things to overshadow the lasting images I was left with and that’s of all the happy smiling faces that were there to enjoy the day with those dearest to them.
Words by Kate Young. Photos by Josephine Ki.