The organisers of Hot Dub Wine Machine must have been thanking the gods on Saturday. Despite Adelaide's last few weeks of weird weather, it couldn't have been a better day to lounge amongst Serafino's big gum trees and enjoy some tunes, drinks and food. What kicked off as a really great day of music among the vines was marred by a little too much booze and an unfortunate turn of events. It seems like Hot Dub Wine Machine organisers have the ingredients for a top-notch summer festival, but with a few key areas that need a bit of a tune-up.
As the gates opened at 1pm, it didn't take long for the lines at the 3 main bars to fill up. Queues were long, but service was mostly efficient. Depending on which bar you tackled, most queues managed to move fairly quickly so it didn't take too long to get your frosé or bottle of wine and be on your way. It seems some lessons were learnt from last year, where the only two bars were pushed to the pump the whole time. Although the rosé running out early did dampen the festivities as it was the best drop for the sunny day. Those who paid for VIP tickets had a queue-free bar in the early hours of the festival, but by around 4pm it had become pretty overwhelmed and while the line was shorter it seemed to take just as long as the general area. Judging from the crowd no one appeared to have any issues finding something to drink.
While Falcona DJs started things off, it was the perfect opportunity to explore a little more. Aside from the main bars, the 'Cellar Door' area had a few specialty bars offering a bit more variety. The Aperol Spritz bar was unsurprisingly dealing out a steady stream of Aperol spritz, while espresso martinis became more popular later in the day and Hains and Co brought along their nautical theme for an upmarket gin bar.
The Cellar Door was the place to chill out. Not only did it have a self-proclaimed chill out area, but there were also rugs and cushions sprawled over the ground and spots to enjoy a side of badminton, ring toss, or even some connect four. If you'd slacked off at home, you could also spruce yourself up with some fresh makeup, braids, or even the must-have item of any festival - a face full of glitter thanks to Glitter Gang. For that extra touch Adelaide Up were making sure there was barely a head left without a flower crown while Adelaide's newest hatter Blakesbys Hats had an extraordinary range of bespoke headware. Areas like this can feel a little contrived, but the vibe was just right and was a perfect fit to the sprawling green laws at Serafino. Nothing felt rushed or urgent the whole day, the key was to just take things easy and enjoy a good drop.
Local girls Germein Sisters were next on the stage. The dancing crowd was still small as many opted for their picnic spot under the shade of the towering gums, but those up front were getting into the set - a mixture of originals and covers. The sisters have an infectious charm and it's hard not to dance and feel good when you see how much they're enjoying themselves, even if you're not familiar with their music.
It was a relaxed afternoon, another DJ set was followed by the sweet sounds of Heaps Good Friends who bring their self-described 'peanut brittle pop' and 'text message lyrics'. The crowd was definitely growing around the stage, but some of the more popular spots were still under the shade. While the beers were Western Australian, it was great to see that organisers made such an effort to get local Adelaide talent up on the stage. Germein Sisters, Heaps Good Friends, Bad//Dreems and Godlands are all Adelaide natives, and even though Hot Dub Time Machine's Tom Loud is from Sydney he still calls Adelaide Hot Dub's spiritual home.
After getting peckish, there wasn't any shortage of food options. Food trucks were offering a little bit of everything, from a giant tower grilling meats and corn over at Carnivore, to vegan jackfruit burgers, and Asian burgers and dumplings at Sookie La La. There were even generous cheese platters if you were after something to go with your bottle of wine. While some dishes sold out, numbers seemed well managed and there was never a shortage of food or any queues that ran for too long. At the end of the night, it's likely quite a few turned to the yiros truck for a late-night yiros or AB.
Bad//Dreems were as high energy as always and rilled up an energetic mosh pit. They might have seemed an usual name amongst the rest of the line up with its pop and electronica sound, but it was a great burst of energy to kick off the rest of the evening.
For those who arrived when the gates opened at 1pm it was a long day, and by the time the Presets finally rolled around at 8:20 there were definitely a fair few in the crowd who were already passed it. There's only so much shade available, and with hot sun and warm water, it seemed not everyone was making it to the end of the night. After the energy of Bad//Dreems, it would have been great to head straight into the Presets and then Hot Dub, leaving Godlands and Benson an opportunity to end the night with an after party. Especially when a few of the 90s & 00s R&B hits seemed repeated throughout the day - no matter how classic they are, it did seem like a bit of a drop in tempo.
The Presets were great, as expected, but the biggest disappointment of the night came about an hour into the Hot Dub set. The popularity of Hot Dub Time Machine undeniably took off many years ago at Adelaide's Garden of Unearthly Delights during the Fringe. Starting from the 1950s DJ Tom Loud takes crowds through the best songs from the decades leading up to present day. He has a knack for capturing the feel of a time period and seamlessly bringing together the huge variety of music that crosses genres and eras. Unfortunately, despite being the main drawcard of the festival, his set ended early due to a police decision to shut the event down. Fans were understandably disappointed and it tainted what had otherwise been a pretty excellent day.
Hopefully, it's a learning curve for organisers and ends up as a mere blip on the radar rather than a having a lasting impact on the future of the event. Almost 12 hours of drinking with fairly steep food prices, insufficient and expensive cold non-alcoholic options and no 'pass outs' always had the potential to end badly. While there was free drinking water available, in the heat it's unsurprising that the frosé or chardy was a more popular choice.
While there were definitely some disappointments, Hot Dub Wine Machine was far from joining the disastrous music festivals that seem to fill the news these days. Hot Dub's Tom Loud provided a prompt and sincere apology and it was pretty clear that there wasn't much option other than finishing when they did. Even with the untimely end, the day was filled with plenty of great moments. Focussing on the best bits of the day makes it easy to keep some really great memories and stay positive that next year will see another great event with a few changes to help things run smooth till the end of the night.
The Wine Machine tour continues around Australia in 2018. For dates and venues - www.wine-machine.com National line-up announced mid-January 2018. #winemachine #bestchardyever