For those of you who are unfamiliar with the word ‘doof’, just imagine you’re listening to loud electronic music with a heavy bass drum kick – hear it now? Doof Doof Doof! This is exactly how the term came about in the early ‘90s, when someone knocked on their neighbour’s door in Newtown Sydney and asked, “What is all this doof doof I hear?” It went on to become a popular name for bush parties in Australia, with the first commercial doof being Earthcore, which took place for the first time back in 1983. These doofs are generally held in remote rural settings and feature DJs spinning a range of electronic music, mostly Psytrance and Techno, as well as live acts, speakers, art and healing workshops. Now that winter is upon is here in the Northern hemisphere, I suggest you pack a bag and head down under to party in the sunshine at one of the doofs listed below.
Doof #1: Earthcore
When/where it’s taking place: Pyalong, Victoria from November 24th – 28th
Why it’s special: It’s the original bush doof!
What to expect: Often described as “a festival with soul”, Earthcore is also a festival for the soul, as it’s so much more than just an awesome party. Set on 1,500 acres of pristine land, adorned with mind-bending art installations, there are several villages that focus on culture, lifestyle and entertainment, where you can experience everything from yoga and meditation, to exercise classes, to massages and alternative therapies, as well as an array of unique performances. And you’ll certainly be well-nourished too, with all the food that’s on offer at the Market Food Zone, which serves up vegetarian delights, juices, smoothies, proper coffee and Chai tea. In terms of the music, Earthcore hosts DJs from all around the world across five stages and is most well-known for catering to Techno and Psytrance fans. However, in recent years, the festival organisers have expanded their roster to include artists with more varying styles, such as Drum ‘n’ Bass, Glitch and Breaks. There really is something for everybody here.
Who to see: If you like your Techno deep, dark and driving (like me) then be sure to check Australia’s own Bass to Pain Converter on the Kinky Karnival stage. If you’re more of a Trance fan, I’d recommend seeing Bryan Kearney, John 00 Fleming and Will Atkinson and for Psytrance lovers, well, virtually every artist on the main stage will probably be to your taste!
Bass To Pain Converter on the main stage at last year’s Earthcore Festival
Doof #2: Strawberry Fields
When/where it’s taking place: Tocumwal, New South Wales from November 17th – 20th
Why it’s special: It’s one of the more original and forward-thinking doofs. The selection of artists is on point and the atmosphere of this festival is something else.
What to expect: Just a few hours outside of Melbourne, you’ll find the small, dusty fruit-picking region of Tocumwal, where Strawberry Fields has been held annually for the past seven years. It’s a place where people come to escape the real world and completely let their inhibitions go for a few days, which isn’t hard to do in this wild wonderland. The organisers have strived to maintain the festival’s genuine sense of community through providing a platform for local and up-and-coming artists, rather than just booking big names, and creating a unique environment for showcasing their music and art. Each year, Strawberry Fields simply gets better and better; what started off as a predominantly Techno event, it now features various styles of electronic music, as well as art installations, eclectic market stalls, wizards and other entertainers, meaning there’s plenty you can do here aside from dance your socks off. This year, the festival is expanding and will almost double its number of acts and activities, plus punters can head on down a day early, so you’ll certainly get your money’s worth.
Who to see: Local artists worth seeing include Seekae, Sleep D and House of Mince. George Fitzgerald, Leftfield and Henry Saiz are amongst the bigger acts on the roster, but my personal favourites would have to be Radio Slave and Victor Ruiz.
Strawberry Fields 2015 after movie
Doof #3: Subsonic
When/where it’s taking place: Barrington Tops, New South Wales from December 2nd – 4th
Why it’s special: It’s arguably the best doof in the country- where else could you frolic in a river as the sun rises, surrounded by people in drag, while getting blasted by awesome Tech House tunes? Only at Subsonic.
What to expect: Three days of wonderfully obscure music in an equally obscure setting: Riverwood Downs Mountain Valley Resort. In these picturesque surroundings, you’ll embark on a journey of underground sounds, ranging from Reggae and Dub, to Psytrance and Techno, produced by local and international artists. Like Strawberry Fields, Subsonic focuses on community and kinship, and local DJs get a lot of love here. Join in with the fun and festive crowd and make new friends, for chances are you’ll lose your old ones in the wilderness, and there’s no phone signal here to get back in touch with them. This is the beauty of Subsonic though; it’s essential to the vibe of the festival that people branch out and connect with others, rather than staying glued to their mates. Besides, having no signal encourages festival-goers to enjoy being in the moment, rather than photographing and filming the event in a bid to impress all their friends on Snapchat. If you’re feeling a tad worse for wear at the end of the festival, you can even pay a small fee to camp for an extra night or two and bask in the rays by the river and go swimming.
Who to see: Big names include Lee Scratch Perry, Seth Troxler, Josh Wink and Ben UFO. Of the local DJs, it’s worth heading to the Pizza Lab to catch the Franchi Brothers and to the River Stage on the final day to see Simon Caldwell warm up for the closing act. The aforementioned Bass to Pain Converter will also be performing on the El Stompo stage.
A taste of Subsonic Festival
Doof #4: Rainbow Serpent
When/where it’s taking place: Lexton, Victoria from January 26th – 30th 2017
Why it’s special: Its spiritual foundations are what makes this doof stand out from the others, coupled with the fact it’s one of the few that’s remained true to its roots over the years.
What to expect: What began as a small gathering back in 1997 is now an internationally recognised music and arts festival, an explosion of colour, dance and expression, attracting people from all over the world. Rainbow Serpent takes its name from an Aboriginal “dreamtime” story, which gives great importance to this mythical creature and is the spiritual foundation of the festival, as it is all about our connection to the earth. The land upon which Rainbow Serpent takes place is the shared country of two different Aboriginal tribes: Dja Dja Wurrung and Wadawurrung, both which play an important role in the make-up of the festival. There is so much more on offer than the usual line-up of electronic music here; Rainbow Serpent gives you the chance to escape from the modern-day world and reconnect with the earth in the way that these tribes do. The Lifestyle village offers a range of activities that reflect its community spirit, such as yoga and dance classes, interactive workshops and discussion panels. Next year marks its 20th anniversary, an important milestone for the event, so expect to be taken back on the incredible journey Rainbow has made over the past couple of decades, while enjoying an unprecedented weekend of music, performances, art and activities.
Who to see: Simon Posford, who’ll be performing as Shpongle & Hallucinogen, will be headlining the festival. Germany’s Extrawelt will be making their Rainbow debut, while the likes of Perfect Stranger, Avalon and D-Nox & Beckers will be returning to follow up on their previous out of this world performances.
Rainbow Serpent: A retrospective film
Doof #5: Earth Frequency
When/where it’s taking place: Peak Crossing, Queensland from February 17th – 20th 2017
Why it’s special: It’s the most community-based doof in the country.
What to expect: Earth Frequency is more than just a festival; it’s a meeting place for people of all different backgrounds, ages and walks of life, who are brought together through their shared love of music, nature, culture and community. Like Rainbow Serpent, it began as a small Landcare party and is now one of Australia’s most significant gatherings. The aim of the festival is to break away from traditional labels and create a unique event based on creativity, education, healing and community spirit. Nurtured by its beautiful rural setting, Ivory’s Rock, Earth Frequency invites you to come together to celebrate life with music, art and other creative forms. Over the four days, you can expect to hear a solid dose of Reggae, Drum ‘n’ Bass, Dubstep, Folk, Funk and Hip-Hop, as well as the usual Techno and Psytrance, and experience visionary art, workshops and lectures. As well as all this, there is a family and kids’ space and a whole array of market stalls.
Who to see: Marcus Henriksson will be topping the Techno bill and he’ll be joined by the likes of Sensient, Desert Dwellers and Australia’s own The Herd. Other local artists include Mal Webb, Hugo & Treats, Lubdub and Formidable Vegetable Sound System.
Earth Frequency 2016
For more information on doofs in Australia, and to keep up-to-date with the latest doof news, check out Dreamland Doof’s online magazine.
Written by: Milly Day