2018 Caloundra Music Festival Review

  • Written by  Kristen Austin-Zande
  • Saturday, 06 October 2018 15:56
The Living End at 2018 Caloundra Music Festival. The Living End at 2018 Caloundra Music Festival. Image © Marc Austin-Zande

Here we are again in Caloundra, for another fantastic long weekend of local, Australian and international acts at Caloundra Music Festival (28-30 Sep, 1 Oct), proving once again that the Sunshine Coast can ‘bring it’ as good as any other city when it comes to live music.


A record 40,000-strong crowd spent 4 days and nights being entertained, with the constant threat of rain not deterring fans at all. And they were well rewarded as the rain, for the most part, remained in the clouds with just a couple of showers over the weekend.

The majority of the rain fell elsewhere, leaving festival goers to enjoy what the Caloundra Music Festival had on offer.

Click here for more photos from the festival.

Once again, patrons were treated to new licensed areas, the King’s Bar now extended out over the hill providing a covered and comfy bird’s eye view of the main stage. The Funky Forest has grown, catering for the youngest of festival goers and the teen market were spoiled with acts that packed the festival.

Sadly, I was only able to attend one day this year with too many commitments keeping me away from the fun. But that one day was packed with an overload of great entertainment.

The DreggsThe Dreggs - image © Marc Austin-Zande

My day started with Bel’s Belly Dancing Workshop on the Sun Stage, right next to the Funky Forest. The workshop was followed by Sunshine Coast locals The Dreggs, a two-piece pop-folk-roots outfit. It’s always great to see a local act attracting a great crowd to their stage and The Dreggs certainly did that, packing the smaller Sun Stage to overflow.

Next on my agenda was New Orleans own Big Sam’s Funky Nation, and wow what a big sound on the big stage. This act kept me transfixed on the Soul Stage with their New Orleans power-funk and rock.

Big Sam Funky NationBig Sam's Funky Nation - image © Marc Austin-Zande

For over ten years, Big Sam’s current line-up have played to audiences at rock, funk, blues and jazz festivals, and we are so lucky to have them here at Caloundra.

Knowing I had a 30-minute break between Big Sam and the next act on the Soul Stage, I wandered down to the Surf Stage to catch some of Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed’s set. Eli hails from Massachusetts and plays a special Boston-style soul. I found it a moment to relax a little after the pounding rhythms back at the Soul Stage.

Eli Paperboy ReedEli 'Paperboy' Reed - image © Marc Austin-Zande

But there was something calling me back to the main arena, my personal highlight of the festival, an act set to take me back to my youth. I arrived back at the main stage to find the arena packed for the next act, none other than Arrested Development.

This was their second set at the festival and my lucky partner was there to see them play a cram-packed Surf Stage the night before. Well, they’d done it again drawing a capacity crowd to the Soul Stage arena for what would be an amazing experience.

The multi Grammy Award-winning hip hop act blasted us with funky and heavy sounds, and a message I’d not forgotten from those early days. They’ve still got it!

Arrested DevelopmentArrested Development - image © Marc Austin-Zande

After enjoying the full Arrested Development set, I headed back to the Surf Stage to catch yet another of New Orleans greats, and Caloundra Music Festival regulars, Dumpstaphunk.

There’s no words to describe how brilliant these guys are. I’ve loved seeing them every time they have appeared at the festival and we are damn lucky to have them here as this is usually it for them. They play several sets over the four days and then head back home.

Big sound, tight and heavy funk-masters, there is always a spot for them at our great festival. They never fail to blow us away and that they did again. They’ll be back and we’ll be waiting for them, and maybe tease us with another out-of-left-field cover like a Led Zeppelin song!

DumpstafunkDumpstaphunk - image © Marc Austin-Zande

After Dumpstaphunk, I hooked up with my kids who were back at the main stage enjoying Sheppard’s set. Again, we are reminded of what a diverse festival this is and how there is something for every taste and every age and from every part of the world.

Brisbane’s Sheppard, by their own reckoning, love Fleetwood Mac, Coldplay and Radiohead, and the influence is obvious in their own sound. And that’s not a bad thing at all as they appealed to both young and old, yet another huge audience eagerly dancing and singing along with them.

SheppardSheppard - image © Marc Austin-Zande

Time to run again to the Surf Stage to catch Sydney hip hop outfit Horrowshow for a few minutes, and sadly it was a brief few minutes as they started at the same time that another great act went on back at the main stage.

Adit and Solo certainly put on a great show and I would have enjoyed staying a little longer, but there was no way I was missing Eskimo Joe. And yes, I was not disappointed at all.

Eskimo Joe were every bit as good as they ever were. The show they put on was everything and more of what I remembered of them, just over 20 years ago. Joel, Stu and Kav were joined on stage by two support musicians and played a set of their hits and more.

This Perth band has always been a little underrated and have deserved more attention. They were great.

Eskimo JoeEskimo Joe - image © Marc Austin-Zande

I stayed with Eskimo Joe for the rest of their set before wandering up the hill to the somewhat neglected (by me) Sun Stage to catch yet another international act Groovement, all the way from Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Groovement have graced our Caloundra stages before and these young funksters are not only great musicians, they are funny to boot. Bass player Supa Man (always sporting his super hero cape) was celebrating his birthday in style, yet again at our festival.

This six-piece hard rock and funk mix are just amazing to hear and to see. I hope we will have the opportunity again, and I suspect we will.

GroovementGroovement - image © Marc Austin-Zande

Before the end of Groovement’s set, I wandered down the hill again to the main arena to catch the headline act for the night, The Living End. Yes, back to an Australian band, one from my home town, and one that, again, just never get old.

By the time I reached the arena, it was packed to capacity and it was rocking. Chris, Scott and Andy are an absolutely amazing three-piece who just rock. The sounds are something, but watching Scott Owen throw that massive double bass around is something to behold.

They seemingly played forever, and I found it so hard to drag myself away before their set ended, but I had to.

The Living End.2The Living End - image © Marc Austin-Zande

It was time to rejoin my kids who were already back at the Surf Stage catching the final act of the night. Now, I had just left a totally packed arena and arrived at the Surf Stage to find it also packed with young and old, well, older than the young.

They were all there to see Seth Sentry perform his hip hop set and wow, it was loud. Having just walked away from The Living End, I was somewhat taken aback by the thumping pressure of the sound at the smaller stage. But it was good and the crowd were pulsating with the beat.

Seth SentrySeth Sentry - image © Marc Austin-Zande

My partner had more time to spend at the festival and was lucky to catch Blue King Brown, Blue Shaddy, The Waifs, John Butler Trio, Mason Rack, The Screaming Jets and Cheap Fakes. Now, read that again and consider the diversity this festival caters for. It really is amazing.

All in all the Caloundra Music Festival is such a fabulous event put on by the Sunshine Coast Council, which brings together so many different styles of music and people to four days packed full of musical goodness.

I should also mention the facilities. There were plenty of loos that meant that if you had to line up it wasn’t for long. Water bottles could be refilled for free at multiple refilling stations, keeping all hydrated without costing us a fortune (and it’s better for the environment). The food was great and available at each stage.

Honestly, I think you’d be hard pressed for anyone who went to the festival not to have enjoyed themselves. The fusion of different music and different people mixed in with well known and up and coming acts make the Caloundra Music Festival one of the best festivals going.

Credit for the entire weekend is ultimately due to the many teams who make this event happen, from the council staffers through to the virtual army of volunteers. We are so lucky to have it right in our back yard and yes, I’ll be heading there again next year.

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