Review: Inner Varnika Festiva

Victorian electronic festival Inner Varnika, held over the Easter weekend, promised dance enthusiasts a soulful and spiritual musical experience, and it delivered just that.

The starting night, Good Friday, had a rather unsettling vibe at first, with the windy weather evoking a sense of chaos and a little bit of madness amongst festival goers. The wind was quick to settle in order to make way for a bright, full moon, but the impatient dancers in the crowd did not find soulful beats to boogie to until 1.30am with Dan White from butter sessions playing live and bringing popular, happy tunes.

Saturday represented the epitome of the festival with an incredible line-up and the prospect of a lunar eclipse at night. The excitement was seen early with most doofers out and about at 10am to enjoy the soothing Velvet Underground tracks played by Glynn Hill.

The sun set in rhythm with the happy tunes of German artist Mr Ties and made way for a foggy night. An intriguing pilgrimage of doofers occurred around 10pm where people retreated to the top of the various hills to observe the unveiling of the lunar eclipse. This was a truly magic moment that I experienced with a fellow Canberran local, making us feel extra special to be in the only state of Australia to observe the full eclipse. Once the moon had put on its bloody cape the atmosphere became heavy and spiritual as the night became so dark and foggy that the stage was barely visible. Australian dance artist Moopie emphasised this impression with his deep dance beats. Melbourne based artist Edd Fisher from the trio Wax’o Paridiso described the night by simply stating “Moopie killed it, Sleep D gave an amazing live techno set and I couldn’t fault the festival because it is simply perfect”.

However, it wasn’t until the arrival of the “professor” Donato Dozzy that the musical experience reached its peak. He provided techno enthusiasts with some slow-burning beats that invited a solid and enthusiastic thump which extended itself well into the depth of the night. I was lucky to be accompanied by some adventurous friends who dared me to climb up to the very top of the hill that overlooked the festival grounds. The hike up occurred at around 4am, when the fogginess was most prominent. Once arrived at the peak of the narrow hilltop no sense of reality could be perceived apart from Dozzy’s heavy, dark beats. This dreamy atmosphere did not fail to remind me of James Turrell’s artwork “Breathing Light”, a space in which you lose perception of space and become one with the light and sound.

The third day, Easter Sunday, brought my attention to the eclectic crowd that Inner Varnika had brought together. Despite the apparent exhaustion of the revellers after the previous two nights, the mood remained light hearted and friendly. This was only emphasized by Zanzibar Chanel’s raw live set, with the grounds having been mostly cleared by Sunday night – leaving behind only the relics of an intensely memorable festival and minimal footprint.

You couldn’t fault the carefully selected artist line-up, but many felt the stage lacked visual add-ons to complement the high tech Funktion-One sound system. Overall, the festival provided an unforgettable experience where wilderness, electronic sound and the festival goers blended into one.