A Weekend With: Review
A Weekend With (AWW) occupies an interesting part of territory in the incredibly stacked late Spring festival season in Victoria. Nestled in the weekend after Strawberry and the weekend before Hopkins Creek and Meredith respectively, AWW provides a relaxing point of difference in what can be a demanding, serotonin sapping month. After a second helping to one of Rutherglen’s famous ‘Parker Pies’ we navigated the stretch of dirt road up to the Mount Ophir Estate, a winery which ceased its production in the 50’s and now acts as a private venue space.
The point of difference which AWW offers is immediately apparent. A small camp space adjacent to the estates large buildings is plotted out to accommodate the 300 or so patrons for the weekend, around the bend the festivals main area is found. The civil maturity AWW provides as respite from the happy-go-lucky doofs of the season is expertly curated. Upon arrival on the Friday night guests are invited to come together and break bread for the communal feast which begins the weekends festivities, the price of which is included in the ticket. The deck which backs off from the buildings of the estate is populated by long tables, deck umbrellas and lazing festival punters enjoying fine food and drink. The scene is that of an Australian take on a Jane Austen carousing. Near the grounds lake the stage is set up under shade from a gum, punters are enjoying picnics around it and a free wine tasting course is being enjoyed in the pavilion. The premise of AWW is relatively simple. Marketed as a wholesome weekend away, AWW is a holiday designed by sets of curators who are responsible for the food and drink and specific wedges of the weekends discerning musical programming. A Weekend With: Boom Town Wines, Analogue Attic, Soft Centre, Sample Brewing, Daydreams, Hope Street Radio and Chèvre Wines comprised the first edition of the Weekend With Festival, and to great success - those who were seeking an elegant weekend away and a party which wouldn’t arrest their Monday morning come the start of the working week well found their ticket.
The Friday night recovery was nurtured by a live set from Matthew Hayes, a yoga session, Bloody Mary’s and pulled pork rolls. By midday, the clouds had fully parted and the sun was welcomed as punters swatted away the imperious flies to the soundtrack of one of the most popular sets from the weekend, a live set from Albrecht La’Brooy. Come Daydreams wedge of Saturday afternoon curation the sense of the evening were beginning to take shape. Claudia Jones attracted a strong crowd on the lawn, Daydreams’ set had it’s classic ‘day party feel’ and were followed by the closing act of their curation, a live set from Digital Afrika, who have been attracting glowing reviews locally in Melbourne for some time now. I expect the good reviews will endure, the vibrant percussion of the pair signalled the mood change to that of a Saturday night party had certainly begun. After sundown action moved indoors into the out of production warehouse in the wineries halls, there was tantalising excitement at the prospect of NSW tastemakers Soft Centre’s block of music programming, the one day festival out of Sydney which has attracted ardent praise for its visceral displays of dark, innovative dance music.
Truly captivating light displays were met with dark, austere waves of experimental techno - the avant-garde heads up the front were in full throttle. The scheduling had been running late throughout the day and it was near midnight when Sydney-sider Andy Garvey got in the booth with her partner for the evening, Lou Karsh. As predicted, Garvey, with a penchant for exciting left field techno followed the dark, ethereal mood which had been set. Certainly still dark and brooding, Garvey and Karsh’s set provided a more typical ‘club’ feeling, the drawn synth builds were rewarded by pads and bass kicks, the setting could be more perfect for the brand of music. Outside it was a hauntingly clear night, well lit by stars and a near-full-moon whose gibbous had just begun to wane. Indoors, in a large, concrete, once industrial hall, backed by a vanguard display of house of ‘vnholy lighting design’ and smoke, there were two silhouettes behind the booth. I’m always surprised by Andy Garvey, a small figure, hair tucked behind a cap, entirely unassuming, perhaps even shy. Right up to the point where she begins relentlessly dropping bombs on the crowd in front of her.
On the whole AWW nailed its brief. A weekend away which was more akin to a holiday than a traditional festival working week ender. The curation came together smoothly despite having so many collaborating parties involved, the vibe was consistent, the food and drink was jovially appreciated and the musical experience was intimate and astute. A welcome addition and adroit point of difference in the Victorian festival landscape.