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5 things we learnt at Bali’s super cool Sunny Side Up Festival

If you’re currently suffering through the Australian winter, you probably won’t need much convincing that a Bali getaway right about now would be a very good idea. Combining it with a world-class festival? Even better. inthemix’s KATIE CUNNINGHAM skipped out on the shitty Sydney weather to make the pilgrimage to Sunny Side Up, the Bali-based festival back for its fourth year at the ritzy Potato Head Beach Club. Here’s what she learned.

#1 You don’t have to be a huge festival to get huge names

The line-ups Sunny Side Up have assembled over the last four years are the kind that will have you hopping straight on a plane for Denpasar.

In their first year, the festival pulled Banks, Ellie Goulding and Azealia Banks out of their hat. In 2015, they gave the likes of Flight Facilities, Cyril Hahn, Madeon and Jessie Ware the stage. Last year it was Mark Fucking Ronson and Disclosure. And in 2017, they booked Big Sean, Phoenix, Hot Chip, Wave Racer and more.

That’d be impressive enough for a mega-festival held at a cavernous stadium — but Sunny Side Up is a boutique event that happens at a bar. Even the solo shows these headliners play would be in bigger venues than Potato Head Beach Club, making this a rare opportunity to see some of the world’s best acts up close and personal.

We don’t know how they do it, but we’re certainly not complaining.

#2 Charli XCX is the world’s coolest popstar

Is there a popstar we’re more desperate to become friends with than Charli XCX? Not only is the multi-talent born Charlotte Aitchison the lady behind some of the catchiest songs of recent years, she’s also just very, very cool.

When she stepped up for her set just after sundown, there was no room for snooty pretension — dressed in white Nike Air Max 90s and a baggy t-shirt, Charli and her back-up dancers worked through almost 90 minutes of super high-energy hits, from ‘I Luv It’ to ‘Break The Rules’, ‘Doin It’, ‘Boom Clap’, a reworked version of ‘Fancy’ and her brand new banger ‘Boys’.

And to finish off? She jumped into the pool — which is just in front of the stage — soggy clothes be damned.

#3 TOKiMONSTA still slays

Since 2013, I’ve been making it my business to see as many TOKiMONSTA sets as possible. And after Sunny Side Up, I’m happy to report that Jennifer Lee hasn’t lost the golden touch.

Handling the sundown set on day two of the festival, Lee opened with her ‘Kick, Push’ remix, mixing in favourites like What So Not’s ‘Touched’, Tinashe’s ‘2 On’ and Shiba San’s ‘Okay’, slowly building up into heavier territory with a remix of Valentino Khan’s ubiquitous ‘Deep Down Low’, her own ‘Raella’ and Kendrick’s ‘HUMBLE.’.

The perfect set to take you from two-drink-tipsy to “shots, anyone?” mode.

#4 Festivals are better without the bullshit

Trawl the Facebook comments of any major festival and you’ll see the same gripes again and again: the lines were too long. The port-a-loos were disgusting. The drinks were all of the sickly-sweet, pre-mixed variety. There was sound bleed. It was too hard to move between stages. Getting a taxi home was a total shit fight.

(Part of) what’s great about Sunny Side Up is that these problems don’t exist.  There’s actual indoor, flushing toilets. With all the action happening over one stage, there’s no clashes or running-to-catch-the-next-set drama. You can just grab a drink, get yourself a good spot and relax. Speaking of, the booze ranges from everything from standard spirits up to the highest-end champagnes (hello, Krug!) — which, yes, you can buy by the bottle.

There’s a stack of hotels within strolling distance, but bonus points if you get yourself a room at the onsite hotel Katamama, the entrance to which is about five metres away from Potato Head.  Can’t every party be this seamless?

#5 Bali is a very good time

Instead of trying to pull you through the door at midday, Sunny Side Up kicks off at the civilised hours of either 4 or 5pm.

That means you get to enjoy your days doing Bali justice — swimming, soaking up the sun and getting massaged — without missing any of the music. And it’s not full-throttle the moment you step through the door; the opening set each day is manned by local DJs spinning relaxed mixes, which means you can really ease your way in. Like Charli XCX, you can also take a dip in that very pretty Potato Head pool.

And Potato Head is most charming around the sunset mark, when you can see the palm trees fringing the venue in all their glory, and the ocean lapping the sand behind the stage. Bali: it’s bloody beautiful.

Katie Cunningham travelled to Sunny Side Up at the expense of the promoter. She is on Twitter