30th Sept - 2 Oct 2022
Blessed with the holiest of weather, plus the luxury and freedom of the entire Kings Beach Parklands, its pretty hard to do Caloundra Music Festival wrong. Throw in a Monday off work with the Queensland public holiday, and it just gets better and better. I had the pleasure of dropping by the beautiful Sunshine Coast (Gubbi Gubbi country) to bring day one coverage of the annual Caloundra Music Festival to you in writing for Livewire- and good lord it was a great time.
Caloundra Music Festival has a rich history of spectacular lineups, with previous sets from Earth, Wind & Fire, The Temper Trap, Eskimo Joe, Birds of Tokyo, John Butler Trio, The Living End, Daryl Braithwaite, and many more. This year payed a particular focus on Australian artists; allowing local talent of all notorieties to entertain Queenslanders across the weekend. This year saw sets from big names like Missy Higgins, Baker Boy, Ben Lee, Client Liaison, The Presets and heaps more. But I was most excited to see up and coming artists from my hometown of Meanjin/Brisbane who've been killing it recently to get some time on the big festival stages- artists like Felivand, Hope D, Ruby Jo, Flag Duty, and a plethora of new finds some friends had told me about.
As if the lineup doesn't top it all, Caloundra Music Festival is easily Queensland’s most accessible and family friendly festival I've attended. The local council doesn't shy away from putting on a festival ready for all. On top of its family friendliness, it's also accessible for those with disabilities and alternative mobility- providing an unreal viewing platform with wheelchair access and clear sight of both main stages. Kids were made to feel supported and welcome with a shaded area to hang out on a fort of beanbags away from the stages- providing a moment of reprieve the young ones craved after hour long games of tag. With parking scarce at Kings Beach, the event provided free shuttle bus transport from multiple locations leading back to big parking areas and campsites for those doing the full three day shebang.
Getting into the festival was super easy and I was greeted with glorious sound waves from hundreds of metres away. I have to say, this is the funkiest and most dancey lineup I've ever had the pleasure of seeing. Stacks of brass and percussion is what really got people going earlier on in the day. With energy and excitement in the air, craft beers and churros in hand, and bands like Hot Potato Band and The Regime taking stage, it was so on. Clad in glitter and sparkling apparel, 22-piece funk collective, The Regime had the growing crowd grooving, and even brought their bus driver on stage to party with them.
The Gubbi Gubbi peoples of Queensland's South East later blessed us with a Welcome To Country before commenting on how great it us for us to gather as a community to celebrate together. This was definitely a highlight of day one for me- I even heard a young boy shout out, "hey that's my dad on stage playing the didg!".
In an extraordinary arrangement of festival planning, the Sun and Song Stages were only a 90° turn away, and the Surf and Soul Stages right next to each other- allowing a constant stream of music throughout the entire day with minimal hiking.
Aotearoa/New Zealand veterans, The Black Seeds, gave me everything I was looking for in the realm of reggae and comedown as the afternoon sun settled in. After a bustling set of afrobeat-infused swagger, it was about time for some early dinner. And I've never been happier to be hungry at a festival when I spotted out the most glorious food van ever.
At your typical festival, you spend ages figuring out what you want to eat with the pretty average choice selection up for offer. But not at Caloundra Music Festival... I knew where I was going: Bill's Burgers; the gourmet burger joint reigning out of a double decker bus with a dine in area up top to have quite possibly one of the most unique and underrated viewing spots of the main stages. It was a plus that the food was bloody unreal too.
The evening was intermingled with folky sets at the Song Stage from JC And The Tree and later progressed into a DJ fusion set from DÉ SAINT. that the young ones were certainly ready to party at.
Meanwhile, at the Surf Stage, Art Vs Science were sending festival-goers into various planes of existence with a plethora of lasers and extravagant lighting complimenting their equally hard hitting and chaotic synth dubstep-rock bangers. Following their set of back to back hits, Livewire-loved brother band, Coterie, took to the Soul Stage to bring the Sunshine Coast all things roots and groove.
After an afternoon of tender tunes and punchy hits worth dancing to, Caloundra locals were ready to take the moves into the night. Bursting into the music scene with his unique blend of pop and hip-hop, and bilingual indigenous lyricism, Baker Boy has taken Australia by storm- and, being the penultimate act for the day, we were ready for him. Following countless placements on festivals, and primetime television commercials, the "Yolngu boy with a killer flow" brought the Baker Boy spark to the main stage, and worked the crowd like magic through each song. Fans sang along to songs of his like, 'Cool As Hell', 'In Control', 'Meditjin', and his recent remix of Bernard Fanning's 'Wish You Well', before finishing his set with a gritty and powerful performance of his catchy rap-centric hit 'Marryuna'.
Within seconds at the end of Baker Boy's set, masses began gathering around the main stage as the headlining set crept up. 5 minutes rostered between the two sets got people pretty keen, and fans began chanting for Missy Higgins' early arrival. As she stepped on stage, listening to the conversations around me got me thinking about how impressive her career really is. Missy Higgins has created an incredible ability to captivate each and every one of the audience members the second she steps on stage. Beyond that, she has forged a cult fanbase that love her music and relatable personality so much that attendance for every gig is non-negotiable.
After a set of pure and delicate honesty from Missy Higgins, and a long day of incredible funk, soul and dance music, everyone was left feeling pretty fulfilled. For those lucky enough to have 3 day tickets to Caloundra Music Festival, they were treated to another 20 hours of talent- but unfortunately, that was where my time at CMF finished. I couldn’t recommend this festival enough to everyone. If Caloundra Music Festival 2023 is anything like this year's, then this is a festival to get onto. With ice cream trucks and a mezzanine bar looking over the main stages, there's certainly enough to keep all ages happy. If you're looking for the opportunity to take a few days (in the year of 2023) to camp and to dance along to some awesome music with the family, this could be for you.
For more information on Caloundra Music Festival visit www.caloundramusicfestival.com