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2016 Caloundra Music Festival Review

  • Written by  Kristen Austin-Zande
  • Friday, 07 October 2016 13:11
The Beautiful Girls The Beautiful Girls Image © Marc Austin-Zande
Caloundra Music Festival celebrated its 10th anniversary and proved that the Sunshine Coast holds its own in the festival stakes.

The family-friendly, all-ages festival, held over four days (30 Sep – 3 Oct), boasted a line-up in excess of 80 local, national and international artists in the beautiful green space of Caloundra’s Kings Beach.

Crowd.2
Image © Marc Austin-Zande

The weather gods smiled on Caloundra for the opening of the festival and the tradition of the kids from the Allstars Show Band kicked things off on the Sun stage. Bobby Alu & The Palm Royale, The Lyrical and Sunny Coast up and comer Bri Green were on the other three stages (Surf, Song and the main Soul stage).

Bobby Alu
Bobby Alu - image © Marc Austin-Zande

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There was a visible increase in numbers of the late teen to early twenties festival-goers, which meant the early acts were able to enjoy an audience that was keen to dance, sing and make the most of their festival experience as opposed to previous years where its taken the majority of punters a few shows to warm up. It was one of the major differences that I found from all the previous years that I have been.

Crowd
Image © Marc Austin-Zande

The other main change was the layout, which was a much smarter and very welcome change. No separate entry points between the upper and lower stages meant that you could get between stages without having to go through bag check-points and older children could remain within the confines of the festival and wander between the activity at the Funky Forest and wherever their carers where hanging out.

Foodies were spoilt for choice with the awesome selection of gourmet-food vans lining the perimeters in the new and improved layout. Festival organisers ask for feedback each year and it's obvious they listen (without egos getting in the way) to the good and the bad and make the changes that need to be made to make everyone's festival experience a great one.

Family
Image © Marc Austin-Zande

For the under 12s, the Funky Forest had an increase in activities throughout the days and nights to occupy the kids. Although most activities seemed geared toward the under 8s, I don’t think you would find a kid that would complain that they had nothing to do. I personally missed seeing the amazing art of Nina & Brady on the faces of the kids: hopefully they will be in town next year.

Lighting and sound, again, impeccable! It's obvious the stage crews know what they’re doing and and it's even more obvious when the acts use their own crew for sound. Festival goers were encouraged to bring (or buy) re-usable water bottles and free water stations were scattered throughout encouraging a more environmentally-friendly impact.

‘Festival cups’ made their debut, but I didn’t see any food/ drink vendors that had a discounted price for filling them which is possibly something that should be considered. Free bike valet, free shuttle buses and the requirement of food vendors to use sustainable/ biodegradable products are all part of the environmental awareness this festival boasts.

George Noriko
George & Noriko - image © Marc Austin-Zande

Now back to the music. It was awesome! It was very heavily geared toward brass, reggae or brass-reggae-funk fusion but in saying that, each act had their own style and unique performance. George & Noriko were one of several return acts to this festival. I saw them last year and the script hadn’t seemed to change, but there Traditional Japanese-blues-country fusion were a crowd favourite at both of their sets.

Tower of Power had three slots over the four days and each one of their shows was as brilliant and high-energy as the one before. They probably should have headlined on the Soul stage on the Friday night because The Cat Empire were a bit flat in that headline slot. I found their set to be lacking in energy and the overdose of far-to-long 'solos' a bit self-indulgent. GANGgajang headlined a packed Surf stage and from all reports I probably should’ve gone down see them instead.

Fat Picnic
Fat Picnic - image © Marc Austin-Zande

With bands such as Incognito, Bullhorn, Barefoot, Fat Picnic and artists Kim Churchill and Erica Falls playing multiple sets over the days, it was pretty easy to catch at least one of their shows. Top marks to the team who scheduled the whole event, it wasn’t too often that you had to make that hard choice about which stage to be at.

Of course there are always some gems of acts that you see that make the entry price totally worth it. My picks for this year were Sydney boys Hot Potato Band who I saw twice, The Swamp Stompers who deserved a larger stage, local band The Floating Bridges and A French Butler Called Smith. Blue King Brown were amazing as always, Thirsty Merc were very easy to enjoy and The Beautiful Girls were just great. Ladyhawke and The Preatures freakin' rocked their sets.

French Butler
A French Butler Called Smith - image © Marc Austin-Zande

Kate Miller-Heidke and her husband where the only two on the stage for the Saturday spot, but they were so good you didn’t miss a full band. That woman can sing, banter and play so well and the chemistry with Keir is a delight to watch.

Hands down my favourite-ever performance at any of the CMF’s I’ve been to was Saturdays headline act, Michael Franti & Spearhead. I don’t quite know how to put in to words just how good they were, I’m sure anyone who’s seen them live knows what I mean.

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It's obvious that they perform for the audience and for the love of the music they’re playing. Franti had a riser assembled in the middle of the oval so he could go back and forth between it and the stage to be closer to the crowd. He brought people up to dance, sing and hug. His message of love, equality and compassion comes from his heart without coming across preachy.

Michael Franti
Michael Franti - image © Marc Austin-Zande

I was at Illy while Daryl Braithwaite played his set at the Surf stage, but I spoke to quite a few people that caught him and they had nothing but love for his performance. While I enjoyed Illy’s set, his was an example of where the sound was a miss. If you listened past the reverb and blown-out bottom end he sounded good during the verses especially for his high-energy level.

Illy
Illy - image © Marc Austin-Zande

The shock of the festival was Sunday's headliner, Guy Sebastian. I was really intrigued to see just what sort of a crowd he would draw. There is no disputing that he is amazingly talented, but I just didn’t know the demographic. The answer was anyone and everyone was there. I even think that Guy was a tad surprised by the audience. He nailed it! He has a fabulous voice and had so much fun and the crowd loved him. Both his vocals and his back-up singers were a bit washed out by the volume of the instruments but I am nit-picking.

Guy Sebastian
Guy Sebastian - image © Marc Austin-Zande

By Sunday the crowds were still there and having fun. A few of the members of Tower of Power got on stage with the Allstars Show Band, supporting the kids not overtaking them. How amazing for these young, up and coming musicians to share the stage with seasoned musos.

Montaigne was brilliant: she is a current day Kate Bush/ Siouxsie Sioux mix. Asta brought indie-pop into the weekend's mix and I would’ve liked to see more of this style scattered through the festival. Bullhorn wrapped up the Sun stage. They never disappoint, they are just so good. Icehouse (with Michael Paynter) gave us an amazing show, amazing lights and I was taken back to my childhood with their set list.

Montaigne
Montaigne - image © Marc Austin-Zande

To everyone involved in making this festival happen, from the Director right down to the last vollie : thank you for such an amazing four days. Artists obviously love this festival, so many keep coming back. The punters obviously love it too as the numbers are still huge. There’s so much to love and I look forward to #CMF2017

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