Maroochy Music and Visual Arts Festival
I’ve finally parked my car after what has been the longest drive my old Civic has had in years. I’m in the suburbs of Maroochydoore on a Saturday morning for the Maroochy Music and Visual Arts Festival. I’ve parked in what I’m sure is another suburb but the thumping bass of festival music fills the air. That, and the smell of a Bunnings $2 snag.
Maroochy is held on an old golf course, a much welcomed change of scenery from the usual paddock festivals. The tall abundance of gum trees provides precious shade while the abandoned sand traps almost act as an art piece in themselves. While they might be aesthetically pleasing for me, they act as hazards for those who have had too many morning tinnies.
I grab one myself and settle against the shade of the ol’ gum tree half way through Japanese Wallpaper’s set. Various couches spread throughout the grounds providing prime seating for some, and spiteful jealously for others. I’m pleasantly surprised when I see Japanese Wallpaper adopt the vocals for some tracks. I never really bought into his breakthrough single Breathe In, though his smooth electronic beats paired with laid back guitar riffs provide the perfect backdrop against this spring morning.
I adventure out into the festival life, grabbing myself a hotdog on the way. Scattered through the festival are giant white blow-up sculptures. These colossal humanoids stand large over the lines of people waiting for their drinks and hang over the top of the main stage, swaying as the breeze picks up. Street artists begin painting a mural side by side in one area of the festival, the colours blending from one artist to the next.
I wonder over to the other stage in hope to see local band Inigo. Instead, an unknown band make the stage proclaiming they have been asked to fill the spot. Nonetheless, they begin their instrumental compositions but do not hold my attention for long. I scoot over to the Ghetto Blaster stage nestled in a shady nook covered by looming trees. I sit back and have a coffee, grooving to the 90s hip hop tunes that the glittered bohemian beauties dance to like an acid trip through The Wind in the Willows.
Bad//Dreems take the main stage to an uproar of Aussie tinged ‘woo-hoos’. Their blend of modern Aussie pub rock energises the crowd as people rush to be in front of the stage. Ben Marwe’s iconic Australian-bloke voice is a throwback to bands that made the 80s so much fun for my parents. Cuffed & Collared and Hiding to Nothing have the crowd on each other’s shoulders, sneaker in hand for the sneaky shoey.
I’m reluctant to stick around for hipster rapper Allday who makes the stage shortly after. I figure I better stay to see what the fuss is about. Within two songs I’ve realised my mistake and get the fuck out of there. When the dude can start articulating his vowels properly and reaches the end of the line without losing breath, I’ll stick around. Lay off the mad hooch Allday.
I find haven once again amongst the Ghetto Blaster but shortly return to the main stage as City Calm Down walk on. I’ve been keen to see them since their Like a Version and I’m pleasantly surprised as their throwback indie sound is as strong live as it is over my laptop speakers. Nestling somewhere between Joy Division and the Smiths, vocalist Jack Bourke channels the aura of their front men. The driving bass lines and vibrating synth chords bounce against the sun kissed gum trees. As the sun begins to set, the band begin a cover of the Smith’s This Charming Man. “This must be a new song,” I hear come from a group of girls whose Instagram worthy outfits must cost more than my rent. No honey, no it’s definitely not.
Lightning flickers on the horizon as the stars come out and George Maple makes the stage. Forgetting who George Maple is, I’m happy to see a goddess on stage. I’m far away but if my eyes don’t deceive me, I see her in a latex leotard with knee high boots. I pick my jaw up and fumble for my poncho in my backpack. The sky is starting to spit and it sparkles against the purple hazes that beam from the stage. George Maple is a silhouette on stage, curving her body to each beat. The crowd are jacked up on each other’s shoulders and with each drop the crowd jump higher.
After such energetic highs, Matt Corby shuffles his way onto the stage with his band. With a simple “good evening” he begins to croon into the mic. They begin with Belly Side Up, a personal favourite of mine. The jazzy instrumentation is a welcome accompaniment to Corby’s music. Though he’s grown in song writing, he hasn’t kept up with his stage presence skills. It feels as if Brother and Resolution are throw away songs to him now, though the crowd love it. His closing song is his best of the night, the band jam as Corby solos with both his vocals and guitar. A simple, “thanks”, sees him off the stage.
Next on the main stage is Peking Duk and I get out of there while the going is good. I make my way to the other stage where Alex Lahey will soon begin, my most anticipated act of the day. A band by the name of Batz are finishing on stage. Wailing screams bellow from the lead vocalist as she channels a young Patti Smith. The crowd plead for an encore so they return to destroy the stage with their riff heavy rock. Though I’ve only seen two songs, Batz are easily the biggest surprise of the day.
The clouds open up as Lahey begins her sound check. My poncho is protecting my body but my head and feet are soaked. People run to huddle under the white humanoid giants that sheltered us from the sun earlier. She begins with her single Air Mail. The catchy chorus bring in all walks of life who are running for salvation from the rain. The rain picks up even more as she moves to the next song. Though the charming melodies are soothing to listen to, no act can keep me in this torrential rain. I decide it’s time to make the twenty-minute trek back to my car. As I walk away I hear Lahey sing “let’s go out and have fun tonight.” Sorry Alex, not now.
Maroochy has easily been one of the best festivals I’ve been to in a while. Though not every act hits the mark for me, the atmosphere was great to be amongst thanks to the installations scattered through the festival grounds. I’ll be back next year Maroochy, and hopefully next time I won’t need to drive home in a storm.