Caloundra Music Festival (CMF) – well-known for its Sun, Surf and Soul – has a cracking line up each year spanning 4 days. We decided to take the plunge into this seaside musical destination for two of those days over the weekend, and this time we did so with a twist, in the shape of a five and seven-year-old in tow.
Possibly being a little too optimistic about the amount of bands we were going to rock out to, we set off excitedly on our road trip early Saturday. With sizzling weather, blue skies and the beautiful Kings Beach backdrop, CMF could not be in a better location. Four stages span the grounds with even one right on the sand where you can easily pop out for a swim in the surf between sets or listen to the tunes whist in the sea.
The first thing you notice about this festival on arrival is the effort they have put into making this a green festival. CMF is the first festival in Australia to end the use of disposable bottled water and to ban soft drinks in disposable plastic bottles. They let you know when booking that they have a BYO Bottle Campaign. They had chilled water available from a water trailer and loads of refill stations throughout the premises. A vallet service for push bike riders is at the main entry and they also had reusable festival cups available in all of the bars as well.
The other exciting new curve was to go cashless with a tap and go wristband system. This was really easy to do and anything leftover could be fully refunded. No more scrunched up damp beer tickets in the bottom or your bag or pocket or queuing forever for tickets first then drinks afterwards. This is such a clever idea and worked a treat.
The second thing you notice very quickly is how family driven this place is. There is such a diverse range of ages in attendance.
Picnic blankets, folding chairs and soft eskies dominated the hills and below the trees of the main stage area.
This was the first full festival experience for our two little loves and they took this very seriously planning their schedule with their timetables and finding their bearings on the maps. Earplugs in, backpacks packed with snacks and swimmers they were set to soar. A festival is often considered a place where you can be free from the confines of your usual life and be who you want to be. The kids found this to be their truth in the funky forest dedicated kid’s area. Here they were adorned with body paint, stick on jewels and given the opportunity to thread and wear hair wraps with beads, flowers and feathers in the brightest of colours. They were shown the ropes of African drumming, cupcake icing, tie dying, puppet making, yoga classes and not to forget jumping castle adventures. No longer were they confined to the rules of school, and uniforms. Here they could dance and be free, wear flowers in their hair and eat ice-cream all whist about to take a swim in the sea. It was the best place on earth according to them.
The food vendors were also fantastic with offerings from around the globe along with vegan and vegetarian options accommodating to all of us.
The line-up over the weekend was banging with bands such as Bearfoot, British India, Kingswood, Spiderbait, Xavier Rudd, z star, Hot Potato Band, and our very own Karl S Williams. Like I said before, the festival experience certainly changes somewhat with the introduction of the little folk. No longer can you stage hop to catch as many sets as you can, you have to really pick which ones are a must see and be flexible on the others and if something else pops up like needing to eat, pee or have a little rest then that needs to be taken in your stride.
Z Star hit the main soul stage and blow our minds with their blend of soul and rock. Powerful lead vocals by the charismatic Zee Gachettte’ s had us spellbound. The highlight was when they rocked out that unmistakable riff of Led Zeppelins Whole Lotta Love and got us all on our feet dancing.
The GC’s very own king of the blues Karl S Williams delighted a chilled out crowd at the surf stage on Day 2 of the festival. The sheer power of his voice had this lunch time crowd mesmerised. Sporting his signature style of leather bush hat, sleek treads and long luscious beard Karl has a stage presence like no other. On stage with a band rather than Solo Karl being the multi instrumentalist hit the keys as well as his guitar and couldn’t have seemed more at home on this stage set by the sea.
Witnessing rock legend Glenn Hughes right before my eyes at the soul stage Saturday to be completely honest had me in awe and a little star struck. This is the guy who was responsible for some of the very songs from the soundtrack of my childhood. The highlight for me would have to have been ‘Smoke on the Water’. This had the whole main stage jumping, Glenn is such a rocker looking the part in his shades, long curly locks and adorned with jewels. His voice was incredible with such range and unreal guitar works.
As the clouds rolled in threatening to soak us with rain, the Hot Potato Band set the stage alight like a burst of sunshine. Known to cause a severe case of ‘Happy’ the 11-piece brass band certainly didn’t disappoint. All ages were carving up the grass dance floor with arms in the air and huge smiles, us included! The atmosphere these guys create is like a New Orleans street-style band infused with world influences, pop, reggae, ska, folk, funk and heaps of fun. The show captured the infectious energy, rhythms and interaction of their street performances they are so well known for.
Performing a set of material from their self titled EP ‘Hot Potato Band’, their latest album ‘Paint the Town’ and their own take on some Aussie hits, they closed out with a clear crowd favourite ‘This is how it should be’ leaving the audience vibing high and wanting more.
All bar areas at the festival were 18+ which made it unable for us to enjoy a drink together but as we now know, festivals with kids are different to festivals past. I think the key to having the best possible time for all would be to go in a group of families, set up a home base at one of the stages and make sure you go for the whole four days so you don’t need to rush to get it all in. Over the four days everyone would get their fill of what it was the festival held for them.
We certainly rocked CMF 2017 and will be sure to book in 2018, this time for the 4 days and with a group. Who’s in?
IMAGES (c) Jeff Fitzpatrick, Chris Clow, Scott Henderson, David de Groot, Sophie Wakefield.