The Valley Fiesta, 24-25th October
The five best things about the Valley Fiesta:
1. The mix and match
The Valley Fiesta is not shy in arranging a mishmash of genres and artists. Avoiding anything too heavy that’s likely to alienate a good proportion of the audience, the lineup spans indie pop, Aus hip-hop, house, electronica, rock, ska, and a ton of sub-genres. Each band pulls a different crowd and atmosphere, some encouraging head-bangers of all ages, others chilling audiences right out with heavy synths and simple house beats. The stages vary too; an enormous screen with huge edgy animations flashes behind the artists and crowds clamouring behind the barriers, while the other is much more intimate, on ground-level with few frills or party tricks. If the Fiesta can be summed up in a word, eclectic may just be it.
2. The people-watching
The Valley may be known for its colourful display of all walks of life, but never can you find so many bizarre and fascinating people in one place as on this very weekend. The Fiesta is like a museum exhibit of every personality in Brisbane, from hip mums and dads swaying chubby babies on their shoulders, to angst-ridden teens wearing a uniform of OBEY beanies and John Lennon glasses, to Valley locals whose harrowed cheekbones and less-than-lovely odours inject a dose of edginess into the festival. I witness one woman pick up a dying cigarette butt from the ground, wink at me, and pop it in her mouth. Couples swoon and exchange body fluids to the mild disgust of those around them; matriarchs gather their kin and hand out sunscreen and water bottles with the militance of army generals; a gaggle of pubescent boys in tie-dye t-shirts, who have clearly just smoked their first joint, guffaw at each other and shuffle from stage to stage en masse.
The artists are most definitely not the only ones putting on a show.
3. The outdoorsiness
Even though it has rained almost consistently throughout the festival, it’s nice to be out and about and open to the elements. It would almost certainly feel less of a festival if we were all dry and comfortable, being extorted for tickets and drinks on strobe-lit dance floors. The inevitable technical difficulties and low-key nature of the performances — artists wander on and offstage, setting stuff up or just hanging out and getting a look at the crowd — makes it very distinctly Brisbane. Nothing runs on time. Artists, when finished with their set, clamber down from the stage and meander through the festival, chatting to whoever is interested. It’s a damn good way to do a Fiesta.
4. The free-ness
Ok, maybe I’m a cheapskate. Or maybe I’m just a little too used to contemplating selling an internal organ after checking my bank balance after a night out in the Valley. Regardless, finding a festival with a good lineup for less than a hundred dollars is a rarity, so it gives me a little cheapskate rush in my tummy to know that I’m watching all these awesome shows for free. Granted, what I saved on tickets I spent on food, but still, it’s the principle.
5. The Brisbane scene boost
I can’t help but feel a jolt of pride watching the Fiesta unfold. Here is Brisbane, a former country town often scoffed at by snobby types in Sydney and Melbourne, but showing off for all it’s worth a plethora of talent and atmosphere. And not only that, but eager audiences too! There’s a hunger for a show, a love of the city and its offerings, all lit up by the overbearing neon lights and far away stars. It makes me proud to be part of the thriving music scene in Brisbane, not only hosting national and international acts more every day, but proffering our own distinct style and a mass of talented folks.