Every good festival begins with an epic road trip and on Friday afternoon, a convoy of camper vans and stations wagons snaked their way south of Perth to the sleepy eco-village of Fairbridge – home of the inaugural Disconnect Festival. Complete with two main venues and a smattering of smaller stages, tents, a secret garden, even a swimming pool – the layout was small but spot on. Throw some streamers through the trees, scatter a herd of plastic pink flamingos throughout the grounds (not to mention the real life peacocks strutting their stuff about the place), string up a shit load of fairy lights, add a touch of bunting and bravo Disconnect, you’ve got yourself one hell of an Insta-worthy set up.
As more and more tents sprouted up throughout the afternoon, Methyl Ethyl kicked off the festivities for the early revellers on the Darling View Amphitheatre. By the time Pond took to the stage a little later in the day with their frantic riffs and psychedelic set, the crowd had fleshed out, the Dark and Stormy’s were flowing and the party had well and truly begun.
To escape the late afternoon heat, a quick trip to the village Chapel was in order to catch the sweet folk rock sounds of Bedouin Sea. As the sun set through the stained glass windows, it was hard not to be just a little bit impressed by it all, especially with the killer four part harmonies delivered by All Our Exes Live In Texas. Not to mention their “Hawaiian nose guitar” antics and cheeky homage to the Backstreet Boys – heavenly indeed.
Back at the Amphitheatre, Neon Indian brought the funk and got the dance floor started before Meg Mac delivered a set, getting the camp song sing-alongs started with Roll Up Your Sleeves.
The thing about a three-day festival is that all too often everybody just goes that little bit too hard on the first night and thanks to Optimo’s hour and a half long DJ set, things got suitably out of control seriously quickly.
As The Jungle Giants jumped on stage launching into the impossibly catchy Skin To Bone, people were cutting some serious shapes all over the place. From crowd surfing to stage diving, these guys held nothing back and expected nothing less from the punters in return. All in all, day one of Disconnect saw everyone get seriously unplugged.
Not going to lie, it was a slow start to Saturday. But what better way to lift one’s sprit than with the WAAPA Gospel Choir. Amen (insert praise hands emoji here). From a few Sister Act numbers through to some old-school Gospel gems, these guys well and truly raised the rafters.
Felicity Groom and City Calm Down eased everyone into day two on the main stage, while back in the Chapel Angus Dawson dropped a delightfully ethereal cover of MGMT’s Time to Pretend.
But if we’re being honest, it was King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard that really took things to the next-level, setting the party back on course. The psychedelic seven- piece from Melbourne cut loose. With hectic tracks like Cellophane and Trapdoor getting an early run, there was no stopping the frantic pace.
Swedish slashies experimental fusion/afrobeat/acid rockers Goat picked up the vibe right where King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard left off. It’s hard to describe what happened on stage for the next hour. Chaotic doesn’t even begin to cut it. These masked voodoo rockers inspired everyone to let their freak flag fly to some seriously funky tribal-trance tracks with Run To Your Mama a standout highlight. Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any crazier, the King Gizzard boys came back on for a fourteen man experimental rock jam because why the hell not?!
After refuelling and rugging up as the sun set on night two, Tkay Miadza wasted no time getting everybody to stomp their feet like a Brontosaurus. Talk about stage presence, her energy was infectious and had the crowd getting low in no time. Uh Huh, Switch Lanes and new track Ghost went off before she wrapped things up with M.O.B.
Under the captaincy of Flight Facilities day two came to a close with a ripping set featuring the mesmerising Owl Eyes. After a bumpy take off due to a brief power outage it was seriously smooth travelling through With You, Don’t Go, Two Bodies and Why Do You Feel? A cheeky cover of Major Lazer’s Get Free took things to new heights, as did Sunshine. Crave You, Heart Attack and Foreign Language continued to cruise at an impressive altitude before the set descended into a cover of Spiller’s Groovejet before coming home with Lady by Mojo.
If Saturday was off to a slow start Sunday began at a somewhat glacial pace. Lilt soothed some sore heads with their low-key electronic soul at the Amptitheatre before local rapper Mathas brought the beat back with a welcome touch of Aussie Hip Hop.
Meanwhile in The Secret Garden, the majority of dusty punters were hair-of-the- dogging-it with a Bloody Mary or two, kicking back to some low-key DJ sets and getting their festival jenga on. DJ Rovy Rush even managed to lure people out from their armchairs in the shade and onto the dance floor – no mean feat for relatively early on day three…
Tired Lion took things up a notch, waking everybody up with their high-intensity vibes. Let’s just say at one point, drummer Ethan Darnell was standing on his drum kit in his underpants and leave it at that.
For a Sunday afternoon Chapel session, Edde threw down some sweet blues and roots while Julia Holter enchanted the swelling crowd creeping in for a spot in the dying sun for Father John Misty. After a very big weekend, Father John Misty’s laid-back folk rock was exactly what the doctor ordered to see out the final day. The natural storyteller powered through I Love You, Honey Bear, Only Son Of The Ladies’ Man and When You’re Smiling And Astride Me, lulling the hillside into a peaceful respite before wrapping things up with Bored in the USA and Nothing Good Ever Happens At The Goddam Thirsty Crow.
Stepping in for Chet Faker who pulled out at the eleventh hour, Touch Sensitive had a big task to rally the troops for a final fling on the dance floor. While Father John Misty’s bittersweet dirges may have sent some off to sleep, the small crew remaining comprised of those reluctant to let the magic of Disconnect to end so soon, gave it absolutely everything they had left. From behind his bass and booth, Di Francesco was only too happy to oblige signing off on the third and final day flawlessly.
Happy to call it, Disconnect more than lived up to its tagline of “what a festival should be”. Thanks for three days of sweet tunes, good company, arts, craft, comedy and the real clincher – no mobile service. Now back to reality…