Horton Park Golf Course, Maroochydore
Saturday August 26, 2017 :

After a quick drive up the coast from Brisbane, we arrive at The Old Horton Park Golf Course and follow a crowd of excited punters adorned sparkles into the Maroochy Music and Visual Arts Festival.

Still in its infancy in its third year running, Maroochy Fest has a great vibe for a boutique music festival, and proving their sustainability in an oversaturated festival market with a small but solid lineup presented in an intimate but spacious venue. I immediately felt the vibes similar to the early days of Groovin’ The Moo, very chilled, with punters sprawled over the lush green grass and vintage couches between the trees overlooking the main stage.

What Maroochy does have that others don’t is a great presence of art. Be that large scale murals being created on site, giant inflatable sculptures, photography exhibitions inside shipping containers, and a massive spider which looked like it was made out of Meccano, looming over the crowd. Very cool.

Onto the music. The day kicked off with North East Party House who certainly live up to their name. With great energy they got the crowd up off the ground and dancing to their many dance floor fillers such as ‘Calypso Beach’, ‘Heartbreaker’, ‘For You’ and ‘Youth Allowance’, with on stage antics such as shooting t-shirts out into the crowd and confetti canons raining down over the crowd, showing these guys certainly know how to put on a live show and have solidified themselves as mainstays on the festival circuit.

After a quick break Horroshow bought their hip hop beats to the main stage. While this genre of music is not really my thing, the crowd were absolutely loving these guys, with hands in the air and smiles on their faces as they sung along. Another act with great energy in their live performance, tracks such as ‘Eat the Cake’ even had me feeling the hip hop vibes.

One thing about Maroochy fest is that there is only one stage (plus a little DJ booth hidden amongst the trees) it leaves a fair amount of downtime between sets. Walking through the crowd showed so many walks of life which was quite a sight. From young groups of girls covered in glitter to older mates playing pool (yes, there was a pool table!) this is a testament to the festival and all that it offers. There was plenty of food and drink options on offer and plenty of places tho chill between sets.

What was overwhelming was the police presence, I have never seen anything like it and I have been attending festivals since the mid 90’s… There was the usual presence on the way in with their puppies which is standard, but then there was just so many inside the festival. Groups patrolling around and a human barricade of plain clothed officers standing amongst the crowd at main stage trying to blend in with their blue jeans (guns were a bit of a giveaway though). For a festival that is so laid back and with such a small number of punters, I’m not too sure of what they thought was going to happen, but there was certainly a safety first feel to the day.

Anyway, back to the music. Bernard Fanning played as the sun began to set and the crowd were loving the singalong. Having just seen them play Splendour and having a mini reunion with Powderfinger, there was a lot of buzz in the crowd that this might be happening again, but unfortunately that didn’t come about this time. While I felt that he didn’t quite play with the energy of his performance a month ago, he still put on a great show. Highlights of the set included the new ‘America (Glamour and Prestige)’ as well as a solo rendition of ‘These Days’ and a snippet of Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’. Wrapping up the set with the biggest singalong of the day to ‘Wish You Well’.

Anna of the North was up next with her atmospheric tunes and beautiful voice. Though she looked like she’d just rolled out of bed and onto main stage in what looked like pyjamas, the girls in the front few rows of the crowd with totally crushing on this songbird. I felt a little like her music all sounded the same and there didn’t seem to be much definition between each tune but again, the crowd were loving what she was putting forward. Highlight of the set was definitely ‘The Dreamer’ which was oh so lovely.

After a slightly, uh, vanilla start to the day, everything changed when Gang Of Youths stormed the stage. Oh My God. These guys are amazing live and absolutely blew me away with their energy, their songs, and even their lighting was amazing. Could not fault their set in any way. David Le’aupepe is the ultimate front man. There is just something about him that’s magic, I think it’s the passion and conviction in his work, along with and incredible voice and some pretty sweet dance moves, which meant I could not keep my eyes off him for the entire set. They kicked off with ‘What Can I Do If The Fire Goes Out?’ and left me wondering how it could get better than that… Somehow it did, performing tracks of their new album, Go Farther in Lightness, showing why it’s currently sitting at #1 on the charts. and crowd favourites such as ‘Strange Diseases’ and the beautiful ‘Magnolia’ wrapping up the set.

It’s been a while since we have seen The Presets perform live and I have to say that their set tonight was pretty flawless, playing as if they haven’t had a two year break. While no new tracks were showcased tonight, their set was a walk down memory lane of their biggest bangers and parties gone by. Kicking off with ‘Push’, ‘Fall’ and ‘Ghosts’, each song worked seamlessly in with the next. We then were lucky enough to spend their entire set dancing in the photo pit to the likes of ‘This Boys In Love’, ‘I Go Hard, I Go Home’, ‘Youth in Trouble ‘and ‘My People’ while the boys whipped the crowd into a frenzy with ‘Kicking and Screaming’, ‘Are You The One?’ and ‘Talk Like That’. With such an amazing back catalogue of ripping tunes I am so happy to see them back out on the road again, and hopefully this means new songs are in the works.

Alison Wonderland sure knows how to put on a live show. When walking into the photo pit for the last set of the night, we were told explicitly by security to stand with our backs against the crash barrier, and not move forward toward the stage where we had been shooting all day. It didn’t take long to figure out why, with flames firing out of the stage as she danced up on the mixing desk. Wow. Her set was a massive visual feast, bringing the fire of course, as well as streamers, and steam shooting out of the stage and large scale screens with crazy visuals it was hard to know where to look.

Her set was simply banger after banger, and included the likes of Disclosure’s ‘When a Fire Starts To Burn’, Kanye’s ‘Fade’ and Flume’s ‘Never Be Like You’. What a way to wrap up and awesome day of live music on the Coast.

Reviewer and Photographer : Chrissy Kavalieros