The Australian music festival season is a far cry from the UK and European version – gambling with wellies in the wet and trying to cram all your summer activities into a six-week period. Northern hemisphere bands are more than happy to escape the chilly climes of winter to play some shows, drink beer in the hot sun and work on their tan Down Under. The anxiety for punters waiting with baited breath over which bands and DJs have signed on for the summer sojourn has been relieved for most festivals. Expect the likes of Rage Against the Machine, Bjork, Kings Of Leon, Groove Armada, Arcade Fire, Billy Bragg, Felix Da Housecat, The Gossip to name a few. Of course there are always the rumours, this year there’s a new one every day. Smashing Pumpkins, Kanye West, David Bowie – fuck, I heard The Beatles were coming. (I hope they don’t come ‘cos I told my mate I’d eat my shoe and since then I’ve stepped in dog shit.) Unfortunately a few shows have already sold out. Homebake, the all-antipodean party in Sydney’s Domain, is a local’s favourite, this year featuring Cut Copy, Missy Higgins, The Divinyls and plenty more on Saturday 8 December. The Falls Festival in Lorne, Victoria, and Marion Bay, Tassie, features Kings of Leon and Groove Armada, The Go! Team with more to be announced and Pyramid Rock Festival on lush Phillip Island, about two-and-half-hours from Melbourne, features US hip-hoppers People Under The Stairs, Kora (NZ) and Aussie talent like Hilltop Hoods, You Am I, Grinspoon and Howling Bells.
New Year’s Options
Bondi Beach has always been a popular destination for travellers on New Year’s Eve, but then the party people that brought you Parklife and Field Day (on New Year’s Day annually) upped the ante by bringing Fatboy Slim to our sunny shores. Last year saw Bob Sinclar and Basement Jaxx rock the beach, and this year Groove Armada live and Sydney’s Sneaky Sound System will ring in 2008 in the most memorable fashion from 9am-3am, right next to the big pavilion. Tickets are still available through Moshtix for $129.
As Apu would say, “never will you party so hearty” as at http://www.ministryofsound.com.au/[Ministry of Sound] in Sydney this New Year’s Day, which runs from 2pm-2am. You’ll see some of the best Australian and international acts doing the circuit. Sneaky Sound System, The Presets, Claude Von Stroke (US), Meck (UK), Riot in Belgium, John Course and Goodwill plus many more will rock two stages for 12 hours at an as yet undisclosed location in Sydney. First release tix are $75 bf, on sale Wednesday 10 October at Moshtix.
Whether you’re backing up, or still going from the night before, Field Day on New Year’s Day in Sydney’s Domain is always massive and often messy. This year expect Chromeo, Girl Talk, The Go! Team, Mattafix, Spank Rock, Felix Da Housecat, Bonde Do Role, Midnight Juggernauts, Stanton Warriors and plenty more. Get your dancing thongs on. Tix are on sale from Tuesday 9 October but be quick ‘cos they sell out very fast. Tix are $100 bf for Fuzzy members through Fuzzy, or for the general public $115 bf at Moshtix or $124 through ticketek. For more information visit Future Entertainment.
As Field Day takes over Sydney, Summadayze lands in Melbourne’s Sidney Myer Music Bowl on New Year’s Day. Celebrating 10 years of dancing and no sign of tiring out, you’ll see Groove Armada Soundsystem, New Young Pony Club, David Guetta, Felix Da Housecat, Sister Bliss (Faithless), Benny Benassi, Tom Neville, Headman and loads more. Tix are on sale now for $105 through inthemix. On the Gold Coast Summafielddayze attracts a similar crowd with New Young Pony Club, David Guetta, Spank Rock, De La Soul, Steve Angello & Sebastian Ingrosso, Stanton Warriors, Felix Malente, and the list goes on. It all happens Saturday 5 January at Doug Jennings Park, the Spit Main Beach. First release tix are $98 bf through Moshtix. The Perth Summadayze consists of David Guetta, New Young Pony Club, Chromeo, People Under the Stairs and all of the other DJs already mentioned, on Sunday 6 January at the Esplanade & Supreme Court Gardens. Early bird tix are on sale now, $79 bf through Ticketmaster and inthemix. For more information visit Future Entertainment. Come early March 2008 the same crew will throw the touring Future Music Festival in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Last year’s line-up included Carl Cox, Fedde Le Grand, Princess Superstar, and Ferry Corsten.
BIG DAY OUT
The main event, the big cheese, the Grand Poobah – Big Day Out is regarded by bands as one of the best festivals in the world and a position on the tour, with generous breaks between stops, is highly sought after. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Iggy Pop, Metallica, Muse, The Killers and the Strokes have all called the Big Day Out’s chaotic road train home in the past. And why wouldn’t you? You visit the Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, not to mention a show in Auckland, NZ. The fans love it for not only the show itself but over the course of the week surrounding the BDO in your town you have shows every night with double billings. Your bank account will divorce you afterwards but fuck him… When has he ever helped you? This year’s event boasts Rage Against the Machine, Bjork, Arcade Fire, Billy Bragg, LCD Soundsystem, Dizzee Rascal, Battles, Cut Off Your Hands, Midnight Juggernauts and with another announcement or two to come, it’s going to be a massive year. All tickets are $125 bf with strict limits of four tickets per customer (except Sydney with a limit of two tickets) and available through Big Day Out. Gold Coast Sunday 20 January show on sale Thursday 11 October. Sydney Friday 25 January show on sale Wednesday 10, Melbourne’s Monday January 28 show Ticketmaster, Adelaide’s Friday 1 February show and Perth’s Sunday 3 February show Ticketmaster are on sale Friday 12 October.
Are you picking up Good Vibrations? The late great James Brown closed this event two years ago, and last year it included the Beastie Boys and one of the final shows by Jurassic 5 before they split up, and Mr Snoop Doggy Dogg was a special secret guest. This year rumours are flying about who could match Snoop and the Godfather of Soul. But with an emphasis on upbeat summertime tunes, the smell of sunscreen and sweat, and the odd cocktail or two, you can be sure you’re in for a good day. So far we can tell you the dates, that’s it, that’s all, and they are as follows: Melbourne Saturday 9 February, Gold Coast Sunday 10, Sydney Saturday 16 and Perth Sunday 17. For more info visit Good Vibrations
St JEROME’S LANEWAY FESTIVAL
The St Jerome Laneway Festival may not have the ticket sales of the Big Day Out but what it lacks in numbers it makes up for in style. A boutique festival, it started in Melbourne’s trendy back streets and stinking laneways. Since then St Jerome has spread his wings further a field to include Brisbane and Sydney with acts like Yo La Tengo, Peter Bjorn and John, Youth Group, The Walkmen, Fionn Regan, and Camera Obscura. Expect tix to be $80.
Last year Sir Dick flew the V Festival to the Gold Coast and Sydney and on board was a killer line-up: The Pixies, Beck, Pet Shop Boys, 2ManyDJs & Soulwax, The Rapture, Phoenix, Gnarls Barkley, Jarvis Cocker and more. No acts have been announced yet but I’m starting a facebook group called “Australia for Blur at V festival”… who’s comin’ with me? Expect dates to be announced for late March or early April.
Another new kid on the block, Playground Weekender took over a beautiful tent park resort an hour north of Sydney, beside the Hawkesbury River, for three nights worth of music. Last year the event included Elbow, The Dears, Chk Chk Chk, The Avalanches, Incognito, Mr Scruff, Laurent Garnier, Tom Middleton, Tayo, Bugz in the Attic, a pool party, cinema and camping debauchery. The dates will be 7-9 March.
THE GREAT ESCAPE
Sydney’s Great Escape at Newington Armory, Homebush Bay, is an alternative festival that grabs rock, hip-hop and a large portion of Byron Bay’s East Coast Blues and Roots Festival’s acts, making for an eclectic line-up. Spread over the Easter long weekend there’s more than just chocolatey goodness here – your ears will love the sweet, sweet tunes. Camping here will give you the full experience, from early morning yoga classes to the late night indie dancefloor.
THE BLUES FESTS
These chilled-out fests originated in Byron Bay with the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival and now there are similar line-ups with the West Coast Blues Festival in WA and the Point Nepean Music Experience outside of Melbourne. They host a swag of the most legendary bluesman from the US and regular big name guests like Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, Michael Franti, John Butler and so much slide guitar its coming out their deep south. The Byron show is on from Thursday 20- Monday 24 March, no acts have been announced but it’s always impressive. This year’s early bird five-day pass is $320. The West Coast Blues ‘n’ Roots Festival is on 31 March and 1 April at the Esplanade in Fremantle.
MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL
It’s not all about the music, it’s also about great arts. We all love to look at shapely, well-defined healthy arts. The Melbourne International Arts Festival runs from Thursday 11-Saturday 27 October and features sexy burlesque dancers, classical guitarists, arts exhibitions, moving images, and various up-late activities for the nocturnal folk in us. There’s also an incredible array of free stuff – and we love free stuff, ‘cos if it’s brilliant we got cultured, if it sucked we’ve lost nothing. On opening night, Thursday 11 catch Grammy-winning children’s composer Dan Zanes for a singalong at Federation Square. Meow Meow has performed at David Bowie’s festival in New York. She’s so hot your loins will explode and your palms will grow hair thicker than Shaft’s afro. Well, not only is she putting on her cabaret show Beyond Beyond Glamour: The Remix, but she is also asking you to take part in researching the role of the Vamp in Tales of Love Most Monstrous. For your chance to dance with a seductress and divulge your darkest tales of soured love, head to the Tower Theatre on Saturday 20 October, from 1-7pm. There’s plenty of other acts, either for free or a small fee, but don’t miss the huge closing night party at the Beck’s Bar and Meat Market (5 Blackwood St, North Melbourne), which will involve great live music, booze and plenty of food. Entry is also free.
Sydney’s summer isn’t just about beaches, bands and beer. From 5-26 January the Sydney Festival will amass an amazing collection of artists, none more brilliant or intriguing than Icelandic songstress Bjork. Last year saw Lou Reed conduct the entire Berlin album with help from Antony of Antony and the Johnsons. The year before was the work of Leonard Cohen by Jarvis Cocker, Beth Orton, Antony and more. Ralph Fiennes has performed a one-man play, the Famous Speigeltent drowned us in gypsy punk, cabaret and indie blues, while free events went off all around the city. Be sure to pick up a guide and start planning your free entertainment.
Marking the end of winter and jumping straight into summer, Parklife’s Sydney show on Sunday 30 September, was greeted by bright blue sky, and as usual the summer fashion came out of the cupboards. Flying the fluro flag, the electro-party boys and beach babes brandished bits of breast and fake-tanned flesh. For some punters it’s as much about the clothes outfits as the music outfits. However Justice, Digitalism, MIA, Scratch Perverts, Derrick Carter, Lyrics Born and plenty more were the real stand-outs of the day. Expanding to accommodate the larger line-up with greater space, we mustered ourselves through the gates only to pour out the other side. First up was a cocktail to the tunes of local rap chicks S.Y.L.K; tongue in cheek, fashion in vogue, lyrically in time and dance moves in step, they were pretty fly for white gals. Stereo MC’s got us connected before the legendary Scratch Perverts served us the best selection of party hip-hop. Muscles was all ravey on us, before local indie-team the Purple Sneakers DJs had us cutting shapes to the best tight-denim dance and rockin’ party anthems. Sweden’s The Sounds reminded us why “we’re not living in America, and we’re not sorry” – where else would you wanna be than Australian in summer? Disappointingly MSTRKRFT didn’t grab me like I had hoped and three times international DMC Champion DJ Craze seemed to be suffering from the odd technical and egotistical malfunction. However, scoring prime position on the fence for rapper/soul man Lyrics Born had us properly primed for the starlet of the event, MIA. Literally coming out all guns blazing with her musical militia of two, MIA lit up the night sky, banging out her Bhangra/Baile Funk/hip-hop mash-ups from her recent Kala album and 05’s Arular. Things got busy when she called all the girls to rush the stage. Ladies spilled over the barrier and mounted the amps until at least 30 girls were shaking it on stage. The odd fella had a run but security wasn’t having it. At the end of the show we stumbled home wearily, had a quick shower, a drink and headed back out ‘cos at 10pm on the Sunday of a long weekend the night was still young…