Queenscliff Festival - the Grand Old Dame

QUEENSCLIFF FESTIVAL: Set in historical seaside surrounds, you can rough it on a budget and quite happily camp and feast on reasonably priced festival food; Big Day Out, eat your heart out.
Queenscliff Festival - the Grand Old Dame
The grand old dame Queenscliff celebrated her 13th festival year with an impressive and eclectic musical spread; a local and international aural smorgasbord to please all palates. Set in historical seaside surrounds, you can rough it on a budget and quite happily camp and feast on reasonably priced festival food; Big Day Out, eat your heart out. Queenscliff caters for all ages and is essentially family friendly; it’s all about great tunes and good food and relaxed drinks; many festival sites are staged licensed venues, but this is no Golden Planes. Roots, blues, jazz and indie pop rock rule; raucousness and heavy rock can stay at home. The charm of this festival meandering between venues along the main drag and the festival site itself; all were impressively and speedily sound checked. Traversing between Adelaide indie act Leader Cheetah at the Fishnet stage and Djan Djan at the Lighthouse shed was an interesting contrast; the dynamism of this impressive young indie act a little lost on the late morning time slot. On the other hand, The Lighthouse Shed decked out in a patchwork of carpets was a perfect place to stretch out to soak in the evocative Eastern sounds of Jeff Lang on slide, Mamadou Diatribe on Kora and Bobby Singh on the tabla. Saturday afternoon highlights included the rock out antics of the Gun Street Girls at The Atrium, the fresh faced and fabulous Megahorns, who treated Queenscliff Inn to a brass and hip hop and melodica feast. Mention should be made of Mal Webb, whose ingenious beat boxing and looping at the Vue Grand Hotel was as much about comical crowd interaction as it was musical innovation. Late Saturday, The Bad Loves reconvened to feed the teeming crowd a huge and soulful sound, and WA pop sensations Little Birdy created a small hysteria, with the audience swaying and singing along to a set which included ‘Six months in a leaky boat’- dedicated to Tim Finn. The original Wailers held probably the best spot in the festival; delivering dance- your- ass- off reggae with a social message. Having missed every QMF express train (arrive half hour in advance to get a spot), was perhaps serendipitous; enabling me to witness the ARIA award winning Bertie Blackman; a young PJ Harvey with a pop sensibility. Young indie act with a gothic undertone, The Veils, impressed but seemed to be more suited to dingy pub or a dark churchyard than a stadium setting. The ultimate act of Sunday and indeed the whole festival was Tim Finn; the closing act of the festival was in capable hands. Finn’s set started with Crowded House classic, ‘Weather with you’ and included Split Enz classics, ‘I see Red,’ ‘Six months in a leaky boat’ and a devastating version of ‘I hope I never.’ Joined by old Split Enz keyboardist, Eddie Rayner and new band set to tour nationally, Finn’s easy, instantaneous banter with the crowd and the band’s inspired delivery sent a crowd of weary and wet punters home satisfied. Queenscliff Music Festival 2009 Various venues in Queenscliff, Bellarine Peninsula November 27-28-29 Tickets available for 2010 online from May 1st, 2010 Phone : +61 (0)3 5258 4816 http//: www.qmf.net.au

Ruth McIver

Monday 7 December, 2009

About the author

Ruth McIver is Melbourne based music writer, arts reviewer and emerging novelist. www.ruthmciver.com