Set on the sun soaked shores of Port Macquarie on the NSW central coast, Festival of the Sun is an annual event that brings together punters from all over the region for what is essentially one of the country’s biggest parties. Buoyed by an amazing and eclectic Australian lineup, the fact that the audience is enjoying BYO alcohol and a capped 3,000 capacity, the ingredients were all there for a pretty special, laid back weekend; made all the enjoyable by some pretty spectacular weather.
This year, the festival spanned over three nights, with a comedy portion kicking things off on Thursday night, before the music started on Friday around lunchtime. We arrived shortly after lunch, just in time to catch Korzdahavoc and L-Fresh The Lion giving the crowd a solid dose of hip-hop, and The Lulu Raes pumping out a rockin’ set in between. Highlights as the day continued included Montaigne, who may have just stole the festival with her energetic set, focusing on her ARIA Award Winning album.
Tash Sultana showed off her skills as one of the finest solo artists in the country, with a hypnotising performance, while Middle Kids continued to prove why they are one of the biggest buzz bands in Australia. Patrick James sounded beautiful (as always), and Urthboy delivered a guest-filled set that impressed, ahead of a one-two punch of Mallrat and headliners Gang of Youths closing the night. The Sydney quartet gave it their all and had the crowd electrified (not to mention singing along, in tracks like “Radioface”) in what was one of the group’s final performances of the year.
With only one stage – or technically two stuck together – there was barely a moment without live music through the day, with no chance for clashes. This meant that every band performing had no one but drinks at the campsites, many of which were just seconds away from the stage.
Onto day two, and Ayla started the day with her phenomenal band, bright and early at 10.30am. The emerging artist gave us a taste of new and future material, ending with her much adored track “Wish I Was”. Suffice it to say, many punters remained in their campsite, fighting through the previous night’s hangover, but it’s this that made her the perfect way to start the day; a beautiful soundtrack to ease crowds into proceedings ahead of the likes of Dune Rats, Dumb Punts and The Smith Street Band, who would later light the crowd into a frenzy.
Los Scallywaggs followed, and delivered some vibes reminiscent of The Hives, while Rackett entered a world akin to Band of Skulls or Jack White – if either of those artists were a female trio from the future. Boo Seeka’s tech had a surprise slot of his own, as he led the crowd through some a capella singalongs of songs like “Stand By Me” and “Seven Nation Army” while they fought some technical issues. Once he sorted it out, Boo Seeka delivered a blistering set.
Dune Rats did much the same with songs like “Dalai Lama, Big Banana, Marijuana”, “Scott Green” and “Bullshit” whipping the crowd into what may have been the biggest frenzy of the weekend. They also threw in a killer cover of “Blister in the Sun”, and those good vibes continued right through The Creases and The Smith Street Band, who opened things up with “Death to the Lads”, proving they weren’t going to waste any time.
As Seth Sentry drew the music portion of proceedings to a close on Saturday night, the crowd made it clear they didn’t want their party to end. Luckily, most were camping just metres from the stage, and indeed the party continued well into the night. And this is what sets the festival apart from the rest – the freedom to enjoy the festival in any way you choose, no matter how you want to dress, or how late you want to stay up. Just make sure you’re all ready to leave the campsite before lunch, and are prepared for the long, slow crawl home.