For a while there it felt like winter already, and the beginning of dreary days made me feel nostalgic. Nostalgia can be a bit silly, letting yourself get carried away by memories instead of trying to make new ones.
Especially feeling nostalgic for something that happened incredibly recently. You should really be grateful for having something to miss, then move on. But that shit is absolutely easier said than done.
Three things that commonly make me long for times past are brief flings, being completely off chops on good quality crystal MDMA, sunshine and concerts. All of these are fleeting, there just for a while, that moment everyone is singing along together, lips on lips, sunshine on your skin. So fleeting that you can’t easily notice flaws or downsides…
Parklife happened to encompass all of my nostalgia triggers. It also happens when it’s not quite summer yet, you still need a jacket for when the sun goes down, but you dance in the sun with bright beats enough to delude yourself into feeling warm during the day. $70 for official merchandise hoodies is handed over, soft sloppy joes going on over singlets and skin made icy by those cold Sydney winds that come at night.
I volunteered at Parklife. It seemed like a pretty sweet deal, especially having the morning shift. The deal for the afternoon shift is more raw than sweet. These guys aren’t allowed into the festival until they’ve put in their five hours work despite there being much excellent stuff on the morning (solid Australian acts like Hermitude, Flume, Alison Wonderland etc). I wasn’t sure if the people doing the afternoon shift realized they could pretty much have bought a ticket for 5 hours at a minimum wage job instead of 5 hours of doling out drink tickets while all their friends are dancing.
My volunteering was made difficult by the Paradise Lost party I had been at the night before, which involved a warehouse in Marrickville, nu disco, the Warhol’s Children team arriving with three bottles of Patron and matching leopard print pajamas, an exceptionally pretty English guy, a couple of points of MD and some shroom caps. Pretty English Guy and I went to Enmore afterwards, to a tiny terrace house that he had been loaned the keys to. The night I met him, which was after a most hectic acid trip at Marquee, he had met two other girls who had given him the keys to their house while they went to the Blue Mountains for the weekend. Apparently he had talked to them for a few hours. The trust involved in giving an alcoholic 20 year old with a bleached quiff and a black trenchcoat who you’ve just met the free run of your house while you’re away is baffling to me, no matter how dreamy he was. But then I remember the ‘ello sweet-art’ English junkie-chic thing he had going on, and can maybe imagine myself handing over the keys.
Their house was slender to the point that everything felt stacked on top of itself, the stairs at acute angles that sagged as you clambered up them. The shelves were crowded with assorted tea cups stacked haphazardly or dangling from hooks, and jars full of wholesome grains and leaves like quinoa and tea stood in brass-capped ranks. In the living room someone had thwacked out the phrase ‘NO PARENTS NO RULES’ on the wall with a paintbrush and white housepaint.
Perhaps this message coaxed me into thinking it would be an awesome idea to ingest all three of the gel caps rattling with purplish crystals for Parklife the next day, so that happened. I sat around with strangers listening to records, smiling, the air hazy with cigarette smoke and munted complements. We were all so beautiful that night. We ambled out into the navy blue lines of terrace houses, and got lost, got a $7 taxi back, then went to Chippendale to buy more caps. We had blankets from the house draped across our shoulders, we were a tangle of talking and hand-holding and wonderful chemical rush. Some glorious high frolicking around was done in Victoria Park, which was the grey sky turning golden and green grass and full of flying fox sojourns, powder shared on someone’s palm, kisses chasing the bitter after-taste of crystal ground into gums.
I ended up sleeping for one hour and 15 minutes, and woke up still powerfully affected by the MDMA. I walked through the bright morning light in those stranger’s house, showered in a claw-footed bathtub against a stained glass window and succulent plants on the window sill, and borrowed a red velvet dress to wear to the festival. It was a surreal experience wandering around those rooms lit by dappled light filtering through outside’s overgrown garden. I felt like an extremely high ghost. Everyone was sleeping in a pile of cushions, I kissed them all goodbye.
So I was already walking on sunshine, although my high was at least partially a sleep deprivation-induced hysteria, I crunched over what felt like an endless expanse of green fields to get to the site, cursing myself for not borrowing sunglasses as well. I was on recycling duties, which involved counting cans in exchange for drink tokens. Which is easy enough when you have slept for more that an hour and 15 minutes, but counting became slightly problematic in my state of barely functioning sleepwalker rolling my face off. I either gave people way too many tokens or not enough. Hopefully way too many.
I was so incredibly happy to be done, and saw some excellent bands. I had been looking forward to Plan B, but the stage he was on lacked bass with oomph. It was the same stage Nero was on later in the night, and a lack of guts in a Nero set completely strips the music of its epicness. Previously seeing him live in the Boiler Room at the Big Day Out with an accompaniment of candy-flip made me conclude that their music was an exploration of the fundamental tenets of music, bass that was a million sounds at once, and builds that left my feet numb from stomping on the ground like I was destroying miniature cityscapes. But without proper bass… it sounds flimsy. Tame Impala were an excellent second choice though, so much warmth and depth to their brand of ear-worm psychadelia.
Passion Pit were a highlight; perfect synth pop with incredibly unique vocals. Seriously, that guy sounds like he has eaten a little computer programmed only to bring joy to the world with ethereal high notes. Plus there were glitter cannons, and glorious group hugs with people I love.
Towards the end of the night the set times were often three bands we’d all been really looking forward to seeing overlapping each other exactly. So we spent a great deal of time either ambling, running, dance-walking or skipping hand-in-hand between Rusko, the Presets and Robyn. My one hour and 15 minutes had been well and truly used, despite re-dosing I was running on empty. Sleep deprivation was adding more and more to my highness, as the edges of things seemed less defined, lights more intense.
There I was, MDMA and a touch of speed coursing through me, but feeling flat. Missing being kissed, although I had been kissed only that morning. Missing the top of the roll, though I was still high. Kind of like nostalgia, which can you can feel literally the split second after a peak. You are still wonderful, but craving that perfect summit of wonderful. But what comes up must come down.
Warhol's Children's 'Chemically Assisted' series:
Check out the original series here.