*** This review was written by Lloyd Newkirk
It’s been extremely tough for me to finally finish this review. After starting over countless times I actually had a good piece going. Well the introduction to a great piece. However after being the silly stoner that I am I forgot to save my work and upon returning to my PC on Saturday morning I found much to my dismay that my fossil of a computer had decided to do some fucking update and in the process my work had been lost. Aaah well, shit happens as cliché as that may sound. So what made me start over so many times in the first place? It’s easy I guess, when Vortex this year was so special that I really wanted to make an effort to make this a special review. So here I go again, pretending to be a writer complete with Lucky Strikes and some Alto Rouge.
I had no intention of doing a four day Vortex for Easter. In fact at one point last week it seemed I did not have enough funds to enjoy a Saturday to Monday party. It seemed so bad that I was considering doing just Sunday to Monday like I did last year. Fate and new friend named Jessy had other ideas.
After working a shift at work on Thursday that garnered the funds I needed to do Saturday to Monday, I was ecstatic albeit hung-over on Friday morning when my friend Jess messaged me to ask if I wanted to make the journey to Riviersonderend with her that afternoon. I was reluctant at first despite having the money to do so, as I was also considering how taxing the four day madness would be on my body. After some convincing I decided to drive up with my friend. We enjoyed a delicious Good Friday feast with my family, packed my shit and off we went. After a few stops along the way for supplies we found ourselves brimming with excitement as we reached the majestic venue that is Riviersonderend. A name that I, in between singing along to Blink 182 and Sum 41 in the car, I had to teach my German friend how to pronounce.
Pulling up to the venue to get our armbands was a very welcoming experience, all the familiar faces and friends who were working the gate greeted us and one could taste the excitement in the air even from those waiting for their shift to be over so that they too could lose themselves in the swirl of beautiful chaos that is Vortex. After greeting some friends and greeting Heather Vortex herself, we got our armbands and car pass and off we went!
Setting camp up in record time, we hastily concocted our various alcoholic beverages, I grabbed Sheila my camera and off we went skipping along to the dance floor.
On the way there we treated to the myriad of different, colourful and wonderful stalls. From the veggie food kings at Fry’s , Daltons amazing burgers and other fried goodies, Dom Bapties beautiful “Splodgical” crystal necklace stall, the 420 Rasta’s, Delicious Dee’s tasty morsels, a couple of clothing stalls, more food stalls and of course the awesome Wobble In(n) owned by the amazing Figgy! Always a treat entering a party and getting the window shop treatment, scoping out treats and other things for purchase, on the way to the dance floor.
As usual I had to take a step back when we reached the floor just to take a mental snap of the wonder that lie before me. A giant multicoloured human hamster wheel that would later become a unique see-saw for Dimitri and myself stood in front me. The tree tops all interconnected by intertwining artworks of geometric shapes, some made from string, others colourful stretch materials, looking in any direction I was treated to some form of hand crafted beauty. Well done to Ty , Choppa and the rest of the riggers for pulling off yet another amazing playground for us kids to marvel at.
Upon reaching the floor we were treated to the sounds of DJ Stuart & Distant Touch who already had the quite large- for- the-first-day crowd in a tail spin. It was overcast and dark was fast approaching yet the temperature on the floor was pleasant with no sign of cold weather. Even if the mercury did drop it wouldn’t matter at this point. Jess and I quickly got up to some tomfoolery with some hula hooping all the while I began snapping away with Sheila.
I eventually made my way backstage to greet the familiar faces behind the scenes, was pleasantly surprised to see Cooks smiling as she was waiting to spin her fabulous selection of night time beats. I greeted her an extended her hug as I’ve been instructed to by my psytrance parents Shaheen and Shouniez – to hug her from them whenever I see her.
Upon returning to the floor Cooks already had the crowd kicking it up a notch, I laughed to myself at this point as I perused the floor, as there was so much energy and ampage on so many faces at this early stage of the journey. It was going to be one long party and I was ready.
Fucking hell I love the guy to bits but I’m scared to praise him anymore. Psyguy was up next and I’m running out of witty ways to describe what this deck wizard does to people on the dance floor! As always Guy provoked the already rowdy crowd with his choice selection of aggressively, sexy and bouncy tunes. Well played, literally.
In between his set and that of Mama Bear aka Sway who was next up, Jess and I decided to return to the car to refuel. We ended up – and I want to share this because I met this awesome person a week before Vortex, we ended up chilling in the car for almost most of Sway’s set chatting, bonding and getting to know each other. Its these moments at the wonder of these beautiful events that I cherish so much. When we eventually mustered up the courage again we made our path back to the onslaught of furious psychedelia that was flowing forth from the hands of Sway!
The night was turning to twilight at a rapid rate, and the talk on the floor was all about Frozen Ghost who was on the bill next. Unfortunately the twilight wizard couldn’t make the party. However the powers that be quickly found a great replacement act. The awesome Rubix Qube met in a psytrance fusion duel with the amazing Xueno!
This was an absolute treat. These two took no longer than one track to find their flow and ended up playing the wild card set of the weekend! Rocking till the very end, my end for the first night that is. I broke myself to their set, apologies for not shooting as I was too involved in it on the dance floor.
I called it a night at this point and set off on my lonesome to have myself what turned out to be a seven hour long nap. This is alarming for me as I hardly sleep at these parties let alone for so long! Maybe this is growing up?
I woke up on Saturday morning planning on having a shower and breakfast, but was alarmed to realise that I had missed a good friend’s set – Roach, whom I wanted to shoot, I hastily ran to the floor in vain, whiskey and water in hand but arrived as Dillan M was taking to the decks. I got to my business snapping away, greeting the monsters on the floor that had survived the night with no sleep and sharing many a laugh. Safe to say the camera rested more on Saturday than any other day. In no time I whisked off the floor by a very energetic Mike Van As of Plusminus fame for some campsite shenanigans. In no time, the dirty Mexican emerged.
Saturday was the day that flew by as quickly as your first birthday, I don’t remember much, polishing of a bottle of whiskey and all.
Following Dillan M’s set and I’m happy that I was still coherent enough to remember this, was the unique Flooting Grooves. Yes. A guy who plays a flute while playing beats. Upon meeting the guy I noticed a distressed look upon face as he fiddled with his equipment on the stage floor while Dillan was finishing off his set. Curiously and eager to help I asked him what was wrong, his response was his controller was fucked. I quickly got a stage manager to see if they could help him, alas in the end this bard and a true bard at that managed to play his flootingly good set without the use of his controller.
Magnus Corona and Silo were up next treating us to some lovely progressive beats wetting our sexy selves along with the Gods raining down their tears of bliss upon our heads. Big ups to those that stayed behind and jammed and got filthy in the mud. Especially Akeela who found a friend and went about her usual fare of sitting in the middle of the dance floor and enjoying the crotch vision view.
I lost some time again it seems. For during Connecto and Dave Mac’s sets I was apparently not on the dance floor, I’m really unsure where I was during this time. When I did find myself back in the fray I was just in time for the beautiful and energetic Satori’s final set in South Africa.
Satori stepped up and played what was possibly the most energetic and powerful sets I have ever seen her deliver and I have the photographs to prove it. She went the extra mile it seems, with her visceral stage presence and palpable energy. It was both a magical and sad sight to behold as I and many other s will miss this beautiful ball of a celestial being we call Jeanelle!
It was during Mark’s powerful night time set that I started feeling worse for wear. My body cramped up all over, and a sudden surge of inebriation washed over me. I could barely stand, walking was taxing and I was experiencing dizzy spells. It seems that my over zealousness for the Saturday stomp caught up with me. Being on an empty stomach was a bad call. I quickly gathered my gear and made for the comfort of my tent. Live to fight another day they said.
I woke up round about 4am feeling absolutely horrid. I like to think that how I felt is the way alcoholics feel after an extended binge with no sustenance. I got dressed again and made my way to Delicious Dee’s for a chicken fillet burger and chips. I ate it with some mates at Daltons’ shared a few stories, witnessed my crazy awesome friend Dominique rise from slumber straight into a jam outside her stall before I returned to my tent for more much deserved slumber.
I woke up to a familiar track. Alarmed I sat up, unzipped my tent and holla’d at my neighbours. “What’s the time friends?!” Ten was the answer. Talamasca had become my new favourite alarm clock. Wasting no time I got dressed, grabbed my camera and off I went to shoot and begin the real part of party. Yes I am saying that I was fairly chilled up until this point.
Arriving at the floor with a fresh J&B (second bottle I was given!) and water I was thrilled to find the dance floor had grown to epic proportions. Talamasca was slamming it with his signature daytime style and I was ready to start the day. I’m afraid I did not spend too much time shooting the legend as I was far more interested in partaking in the shenanigans taking place on the dance floor!
Bruce was quite possibly the best DJ to follow after Talamasca. In fact despite me always wanting to see Talamasca, I must admit that Bruce stole the show for Sunday. As always this kind and well mannered DJ delivered the most enriching and uplifting Sunday service. Best Easter sermon I’ve been a part of to date. Big ups my friend.
It’s an apparent pattern with me to lose hours, perhaps I was too fucked to notice who was playing or maybe I was off enjoying some off dance floor activities, campsite chilling or maybe this was when I decided to shower, but I missed the next two acts. When I returned to the floor I returned there all squeaky and so fresh and so clean clean. Yes I endured the famous Vortex cold shower. Leave- in conditioner in my hair I was greeted by the sounds of Beartrap legend Bernz who was delivering a positively funky late afternoon sermon with his daytime psychedelia and progressive tunes!
I missed Rosa Ventura and pretty much the rest of the Brazilian psy team, lord knows where I was, I’m almost sure I was jamming but who knows.
Next set I do remember was Chemogen. After nearly bailing several times to sleep I had to rely on my friend Chloe to keep me in check so that I’d stay awake to shoot his set. Chemogen brought the pain slamming out his choice selection of twilight tracks. I spent most of his set snapping away, but nonetheless it was the most entertaining set of the weekend.