A free-spirit studying psychology at the University of Sydney.
The 2019 Summer Festival Experience
A sea of green parklands bound by patches of woodlands, whimsical attire in all directions, fairy lights and technicolours, adorned with ambient progressive beats and melodies; it was an electric wonderland.
Electric Gardens was a glamorous example of high-quality entertainment production in Sydney, and attending such an event makes me truly proud to live in a city that delivers at such a standard. It was the perfect way to celebrate Sydney and Australia Day 2019.
Electric Gardens is a highly regarded music festival showcasing some of the best of the global electronic music scene. A carefully curated assortment of local and international artists brought together an eclectic summer dance party. Fans of house, techno, trance, and drum and bass united.
Little did we know, this favourite Aussie festival began in London - by two Aussie backpackers who grew a humble backyard rave (2001) into something special in London's electronic music scene. Legends! See more on the history here - it's quite the tale
Speaking of tales... Electric Gardens brought to Sydney's historic Centennial Park an array of vibrant colours and sparkling adults feeling like children again. It was indeed the scene of a modern Australian fairytale.
So, you may be wondering who you may catch spinning those fine melodies and clean beats? Here's the line-up from when we attended the festival in 2019. Artists spanned 4 major stages, plus two smaller truck stages. You'll find yourself spoilt for choice.
2019 EG Lineup - see different stages and lineup. Image from Electric Gardens event pages)
Electric Gardens Main Stage Took us festival fairies on a journey through Sydney's house and broader electronic dance scene - and beyond, with global artists making an appearance for this luxurious annual event.
Things kicked off with some chill but playful progressive house sets from Sydney residents Beth Yen who puts a Mambo flare on her tunes (catch her around at venues such as The Greenwood Hotel and Ivy Pool Club), and the euphoric and dreamy Set Mo duo. We found the lyrics in their song 'Wish You Were Here' to be rather reminiscent of our Electric Gardens experience "Feeling the colours ... losing myself here in this moment"
This then progressed into the happy and groovy Bag Raiders (Aussie legends!). We were especially enthralled when they played their beloved song Shooting Stars with live instruments.
Mainstage ft a little shade courtesy of Jose Cuervo
Following this, we got to witness some handpicked international artists for this show. First was Nick Warren from the UK, followed by the Colombian-American Erick Morillo.
Warren filled the Centennial Parklands with a subtle blend of ambient-house, creating the best of both worlds - slow flowery melodies, underpinned by a solid house beat that just makes you want to dance.
I wonder if Nick Warren is indeed from the future as it induces a feeling of driving down an interplanetary highway and watching mighty galaxies swirl in the far distance while comets fly overhead. All the while tapping my steering wheel alongside Warren's hypnotic groove.
Morillo's powerful basslines and encouraging samples got us feeling the love in the air and acceptance across the dance floor, even those at the back were keenly making their way forward to get amongst this energy and have a good boogie.
Morillo is a musician also not afraid to slow things down to facilitate a sensual moment with his listeners before building it back up in a fabulous manner to that relentless house feel we all know and love. If you see Erik Morillo on a festival bill in the future, I would definitely suggest stopping by and feeling the love.
The mainstage culminated the Electric Gardens experience with British drum & bass duo Sigma. Their euphoric melodies paired with fun, uplifting vocals and clever percussions filled the parklands. It was beautiful to dance alongside everyone in good spirits under the stars, while witnessing this pinnacle of lighting and production effects - and a few fun novelties like throwing giant balloons and pool inflatables into the crowd. What a party!
Being a huge trance fan, I was in for a treat in this neck of the woods. To the right of the mainstage (when facing it) was an enigmatic tent. We ventured into the dark to find an illuminated space with lots of groovy trance - and a giant cooling fan which was very welcome. It was paradise dancing in front of this.
The highlight here for me was MarLO - Dutch trance producer who now resides in Australia frequenting clubs like Ivy. He showcased a quality range of this genre - from euphoric trance to hard trance to psytrance. Had an absolute blast boogying down at the Quantum Arena.
Amnesia (Paul Stage Presents) - We didn't spend as much time at the latter two major stages. Nonetheless, it appeared that the minimal, tech, and tech house locals and internationals also pulled quite the crowds and set a great atmosphere for fans of this kind of EDM. Patrick Topper (number 1 on the Beatport Tech House charts) closed Amnesia.
RiO the Hangout - I quite liked the 'enchanted garden' meets Brazilian Carnivale vibes in the RiO neck of the woods. We were drawn towards this stage with vibrant purples and other bright festive colours nestled in between some towering trees that created some excellent shaded areas to chill out beneath.
Technicolour with backdrop of trees and some lovely natural shade
We hung out at this 'Hangout' for a little while come evening and were captivated by the alluring progressive deep house rhythms and grooves by Guy Mantzur from Tel Aviv. He pulled elements from tech house that made for a subtle but energetic flow.
Through the looking glass (festival gates)...
Through the magical festival gates (well, once you get past the ticket and security checks - everyone's favourite part), what else can you expect to find aside from the different musical arenas?
With this point being the peak of summer, I'd lost count of the number of sweltering hot days Sydney's been having. Today was no different with us bracing ourselves for lots of water and doing what we could to stay cooler while partying on in mid 30-degree weather.
Fortunately, the festival was prepared with free water fountains to refill, as well as several stalls around the grounds from which you can purchase bottles of water and various beverages including some tasty Smirnoff Double-Black's.
Through the gates, heading towards the festival mainstage
To our great fortune, the weather took a beautiful refreshing turn as the afternoon progressed. It grew cloudy and cool, which allowed the colourful costumes and stage production to be accentuated, the white backdrop descending the festival grounds into an enchanting, mystical air and had us feeling like we were floating around in wonderland.
Jose Cuervo brought Tequila to the party, which is always a good time. A few sun umbrellas made for a nice little chill out space, with a great view of the mainstage.
Carnival rides for those wanting a little adrenaline boost make for a great addition to the whole experience, making festival fairies truly feel young at heart. Would you dare to spin 360 degrees and face the ground from metres above on the Kamaze? My challenge... for next time.
A delicious assortment of food was catered up as well. There were classic carnival snacks that were a nostalgic yum - like 'chips on a stick' and nachos. On the other hand, there were some premium bites to eat and feel refreshed with such as a beef noodle salad and cup of watermelon which was the perfect summer thirst quencher.
It was great to see everything you would need provided at the festival. This includes lots of portaloos around the venue and first aid facilities that urge anyone feeling off in any shape or form to seek help from them.
Want a little extra? The Electric VIP Gardens
If you feel like spoiling yourself and doing the festival in a little more comfort and style, you can opt for the VIP tickets. We indulged this Australia Day with some VIP-treatment. This meant the fast-lane to getting into the festival itself; immediate entry versus the potential hour-long wait on the queue through the main entry was a very welcomed bonus!
This also meant exclusive entry to a 'private garden party' - a sizeable marquee providing a generous area of shading, complete with tables and comfortable luxurious seating. The white brought a classy elegance, and it was great to be able to sit here with drinks in hand, within close proximity to the mainstage.
On top of this, our tickets made us eligible to free water bottles, and access to an exclusive bar, food vendor and portaloos meaning we could beat the queue whenever we liked. This definitely had one over my previous festival experiences of spending much of the day in dense crowds waiting.
There are different tiers of VIP tickets - we had the 'VIP Guestlist' which entitles you to all of the above. However, there is another option that entitles you to one free item of food, and one free drink. How all out do you want to go for your EG experience? It was a wonderful, fun day out and it's highly recommended you put it on the bucket list for future years in Sydney (and other locations around the country - please refer to website).