Both making respective journeys to the rest area, cold but necessary showers remind us we’re alive. It’s Saturday now, right? Our wits snap back into focus. We’re at Jungle Love.
It’s been a big night, it’s been raining. Other campmates are gone. Comatose most likely, cloistered deeply within their tents.
As we sit recovering a man whirs by in a buggy. It’s navigating a sludgy run that leads in to the event. Trailing him are a steady trickle of spirited campers, friendly staff and volunteers. Trudging this path of mud on foot requires something closer to a loosely controlled slide than a stride. Punters slip past tents, but for the gamer amongst them, there’s also the option of one of the festivals’ complimentary cycles.
Patrons balance their B.Y.O. drinks and inflatable ring floats to the Jungle Boogie stage. Those who’ve regained consciousness are heading toward an idyllic creek-side green. Here a small armada of inflatable pool animals drift atop the slow eddies of Yabba Creek. Others lounge along the banks. Many retire from the water to raise the unicorn and pizza pool toys above their heads, dancing with a grin and a smile.
The crowd is easy-going, friendly and familiar. It’s just as simple to slide into conversation with a stranger than as a familiar face. Jungle Love is very much one of those festivals which leans back into its own vibration. It hangs together more loosely than your typical affair, but from within, more chaotic moments comes an energy that makes it swing.
Saturday day comes littered with music and art. Attendees are encouraged to contribute something of their own to the festivals ‘visual and dramatic delights’. A host of installations, worships, poetry slams and free for all jams dot the event. There’s some modest talent manning the festival’s stages too.
Hot off the release of their End This Mess EP, local favourites Jouk Mistrow kick off the Wonder stage with an early set. Kallidad follows on with a slow-moving but confident fashion. Their distinctive face paint, sitting somewhere between Kiss and Mexico’s Day of the Dead, entrances their attendant audience. These daytime acts draw some healthy crowds, but it’s at night that the festival truly comes alive.
Monster Zoku Onsomb! pushes the event to full throttle at the Jungle Boogie Stage. Geared for lunatic kicks they come flanked by a melange of ridiculously costumed dancers and other visual stimuli. They’re a band with a message but all the same, theirs is also a potent music. It whips the crowd into a frenzied mass.
As darkness sets in the greenery embraces the Jungle Love community. They become unstuck from the world outside. Lost in the moment, the reality of their external lives ceases, but that’s not to say that people aren’t connecting with one another. There’s a definite air of trust and tranquillity which runs through even the festival’s most hectic moments.
By Sunday the clouds have cleared. Tiana Khasi’s silken vocals and brassy backing ensemble grace the Wonder stage. ‘It’s my first festival,’ she admits as she slides comfortably through her set. Hobo Magic thunder out at The Seeker stage before Nice Biscuit’s floating psychedelia envelopes an enraptured audience at Wonder.
By now the festival has become a walking art gallery. Murals from local criss-cross the festival grounds. This visual aspect is reflected by the festival’s crowd. Attendees indulge their own eccentric flair with clothing, glitter or makeshift artworks designed on a whim.
From here it’s chaotic blur. Koi Child may have been sighted before catching Zong and JAMBALA at the mainstage. The by now tried-and-trusted Jungle Boogie beckons with continual lure.
As Harts close this final day many head to the notorious KUNST CLUB. Part boiler room and part S&M, it’s a sly twist on the festival’s friendlier vibrations. Others are just as comfortable to let the party slip back to campsites.
In all, it’s not hard to see why this festival is fast forging its solid reputation. Organisers and a small army of staff zero in on creativity and human connection while quietly working to diffuse the typical rigours of a large event. Close to its heart lays an environment of understanding and courtesy.
Crowds can be unruly organisms at the best of times, but Jungle seems coy to the fact that that festival goers are, at the end of the day, human beings. The devil’s in the simple details. Hitting the dirt drive on the way out of the event you can’t help but entertain the idea that The Jungle team have gotten it right. Even if there is a deer or two on the loose.
Review by Riley Fitzgerald and Becci Writes
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