On the 24th of March 2016 Ruan, Nino, Jaxxy and I made our way to the first edition of Lush Festival. The event was held at Linwood Farm (approximately 6 km outside Clarens in the Free State province).
We left Pretoria around 7:30 PM and only arrived at the venue around 11:30 PM. It was quite a mission to get a camping spot, but we were eventually all set up around 2 AM. After a quick beer in the bright moonlight, we called it a night. We didn’t see a point to waste our energy. (It was going to be a long weekend after all).
I woke up on early on Friday morning and was greeted by one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen. It was the first time that I made my way to this part of the country and I must say that I was damn impressed by the scenery. The crisp mountain air was also a bonus.
The day officially started at 11 AM. We watched Ruby Gill play an amazing chilled out set at the Barn Owl before enjoying a bit of Go Barefoot whilst enjoying our first drinks of the day. Sadly we had to help our friends set up camp, so we missed Boxer but we made it just in time to catch a bit of We Are Charlie’s set at the Willows.
The day officially started gathering pace when Monark (a band from Potchefstroom) made their way onto the stage and completely blew everyone away with an amazing set. Next up was the very entertaining Rubber Duc (a Joburg based folk rock band) and the party mood started to kick in. The Red Bull & Vodka was flowing and the crowd was dancing and singing along. I’m really amazed that this band has not played gigs in Pretoria yet, they will definitely get a party started if they do.
Next up was ISO (a band who is currently working on upcoming album). It’s been a while since I’ve seen these okes perform and I can only describe their performance as “magical”. The December Streets were up next and proved just why they’ve become one of the must see live acts in the country. They’ve come a long since I first watched them perform at the KFC Sessions in Hatfield Square in 2010.
As dusk turn to dark, Al Bairre made their way onto The Willows stage and got the crowd and had the crowd singing and dancing in no time. Next up were the kings of SA Indie, Shortstraw and they did not disappoint. The only thing missing was Crazy Jay in his bikini and tutu, but I’m sure he’ll make appearance again some day.
Jeremy Loops made his way onto the stage around 9 PM and I have to say that it was great watching him and his band perform and the vibe during his show was absolutely amazing. The final act of the day was Australian folk / reggae / rock musician Xavier Rudd. He put up a great performance, but I have to admit that I enjoyed the local acts on the day a little more, maybe it’s just because his music isn’t really my vibe.
Friday night never really ended after that. Nino and I made our way to the bar and into The Woods (where we danced and bounced a bit) and we eventually ended up pulling an all nighter with an ex Pretorian (who now lives and works in Bloem). I have to admit that it was great watching everyone wake up around us, but I would not recommend to this to anyone.
Saturday morning turned out to be a lazy one. We watched Abbey Grange, Richard Brokensha, Michael Lowman and Laurie Levine & Josie Field with one eye and only managed to really get into a party mood when Bouwer Bosch made his way onto the Willows stage at 4 PM. He played a few originals and Straatligkinders numbers (which thoroughly entertained his fan base).
As the sun started setting it was Grassy Spark’s time to get the crowd into a party mood and boy, did they do that well. Their blend of ska was just the boost that everyone needed to get amped up for the acts that were lined up for the rest of the evening. Farryll Purkiss’ set was awesome (even though it was briefly interrupted by rain) and before someone could say “Leja” it was time for Die Heuwels Fantasties.
It’s been a while since I watched these boytjies from Bellville and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed their set. It was great singing along to all the tracks from their first and second album. The Parlotones were up next and even though I’m not their biggest fan, they too did not disappoint. I just wish they would stop playing that Koos Kombuis cover (and you all know which song I’m referring to). The Afrikaans person inside me just prefers the original.
Next up was one of the highlights of the festival, Francois van Coke. From the get go one could realize that it was time no nonsense rock ‘n roll and the crowd was completely blown away. It was amazing to hear the crowd sing along to almost every song he played on stage.
The 2nd last act for Saturday night was Civil Twilight. It was the second time that I watched these Cape Town boys (who are now based in the USA) perform and I was not disappointed. I caught a bit of GoodLuck but by then my body was craving sleep (thanks to the all nighter) so I crawled into my tent around midnight.
We woke up early on Sunday morning and decided to explore Clarens. We couldn’t find a spot at the brewery so we settled for the German restaurant instead. After a quick lunch we headed back to the farm and watched a bit of Michael Lowman and Kahn’s performance before we packed up and headed home.
This was my second festival in two weeks and I have to admit that it took me the whole of Monday to recover. Lush Festival was fun. Kudos to organizers.
The venue and scenery is truly amazing. It was held at the right time of the year. It wasn’t too hot during the day and it was nippy but not Oppikoppi cold at night. The sound and lighting was amazing. The vibe was lekker. People were generally friendly and one could sense that the scenery was definitely rubbing off on them.
The food was good (although choices were slightly limited). Booze prices were not through the roof, but a bar that sells beer closer to the main stage could be an improvement for the next edition of this festival. Something else that can be improved is the toilets – the porta pottis were getting quite smelly at one stage.
Getting to and from your car to the campsite proved to be quite a mission. The trucks and bakkies transporting people to and from their cars were a great idea, but better parking arrangements and more frequent transport to and from the campsite could have improved things a bit.
This was the first Lush Festival and I think that it has potential to become a great annual event. I’m pretty sure the organizers will learn from this experience and bring us a bigger and better one next year. If they organize another one I’ll definitely make an effort to get my arse there next year. The scenery, vibe and great music is definitely worth the 370 km trip.
What did you think of Lush Festival? Leave a comment and let me know. Feedback is appreciated and welcome here.
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