Music, good vibes and stunning weather are all essential elements of a successful music festival right? If you were lucky enough to get along to Shakafest at Broadwater Parklands, Southport on the weekend, then you’d agree it had all these elements and more.
Following a sold-out 2017 event, this year’s Shakafest was my kind of festival. Not only was there a relaxed vibe and a positive, happy-go-lucky crowd, but there was also only two stages, (a 30 second walk from each other) so you could easily meander from one set to the next, without the jostling, shoving and frustrating map reading that often goes hand in hand with an outdoor festival.
With a solid line up of Aussie rock, indie, punk and hip-hop bands, (not to mention the huge representation of female musicians and a half pipe, reminiscent of the Vans Warped tour days), Shakafest is a Gold Coast gem that deserves more credit than it gets.
Given the plethora of bands playing, it was impossible to see all of them, but here’s a run down of of the few I was lucky enough to catch.
Hailing from Melbourne, IV League had that surfie, dreamy indie vibe that set the already laid-back scene. The four piece band not only looked like they were having fun, but were also rocking out some great tunes under the guise of the very capable front woman, Bella Venutti. With influences of the Pixies and the Breeders filtering through their tightly driven and energetic set, this is without a doubt, a band to watch.
Alex the Astronaut
Known for her kooky banter and large stage persona, Alex took to the stage with so much confidence it was admirable. From beginning to end, Alex had the audience captivated and kind of reminded me of a female Paul Kelly or a younger Courtney Barnett. Her Australiana songs told sweet stories we can all relate to, like shit days at work and drinking too much tequila. No doubt this young lady will continue her climb on the music industry ladder and given the success of her Shakafest gig, it’ll be an easy one.
This gutsy, four piece all female band really threw some punches with their punky, rebellious lyrics and riffs. With songs like ‘Deadshits With Nice Tits’ and one about their friend high on acid throwing a cat out the window, it wasn’t a show for the faint-hearted. Their Nirvana cover of ‘Aneurysm’, which featured a pretty amped up guy with a great voice, was a highlight. These girls were masters at pumping up the crowd and kudos to the female drummer, she brought the house down on a few occasions.
I remember seeing these guys a few times throughout the 90’s, the first being when I was 18 at my local RSL , so I was pumped for the Aussie punk stalwarts show. And boy did they deliver. As well as hilarious banter between Lindsay and Jay (who, lets be honest still needs a haircut) these guys still know how to get the crowd moshing, screaming for more and singling along to all their old classics such as ‘Punch in the Face’, ‘Never Had so Much Fun’ and ‘Russell Crowe’s Band is a Pile of Shit.’ Other favourites, in terms of the hilarity and wit of the lyrics were ‘Bird Attack’ and ‘Storage Unit Pill Press’. The mosh pit really got out of hand at one stage, to the point where Jay basically told everyone to calm the fuck down and lose the macho attitude. (well said) But all in all, their set was fast-paced, loud and so positively punk I almost pulled a neck muscle.
Well after the Frenzal Rhomb antics, I went and took a breather at the Moaning Lisa set. Once again it was a female entourage (aside from the drummer) whose beautifully harmonised voices and great, nostalgic indie guitar, harked back to Sonic Youth days. They were one of those bands that you wished you’d seen the entire set of (instead of wildly moshing 15 minutes beforehand) but also knew you were going to go home and hit them up on Itunes. With sardonic, raw lyrics and angsty guitar, the Canberra band were masterful in both the art of story-telling and creating a restrained, yet captivating show.
The crowd was all too ready when the boys took to the stage and delivered a professional, sharp and super tight set. With an old-school grunge feel, dreamy lyrics and haunting melodies, Last Dinosaurs had Shakafest punters wanting more. With hits like ‘Domino’, ‘Eleven’ and an incredibly clever megamix cover of the Prodigy, Daft Punk and Michael Jackson, the dance floor was on fire and crowd surfers were up and away. As well as a couple of new songs off their latest album, the minimalist rockers played a really solid and enjoyable set that pretty much everyone was watching. These Brissie boys ooze coolness and will no doubt continue their successful run of shows as they tour Australia in 2019.
Wow, these guys have quite the following on the Gold Coast and given the amount of Bliss’n’Esso t-shirts in the crowd, the anticipation and excitement leading up to their set was contagious. As expected, the Aussie hip hop heavy-weights delivered what their appreciative fans had been waiting for. Reeling out well-received new material from their latest ‘Off the Grid’ album, such as ‘Friend Like You’ and ‘Dopamine,’ the boys kept the crowd wanting, performing more than a few of their sing-a-long almost anthem-esque classics. Their suburban edge, grittiness and realism, which makes Australian hip-hop so unique, is what Bliss’n’Esso are all about and personally, I don’t think Shakafest could have chosen a more fitting outfit to round off a fabulous afternoon and evening of quality Australian music.
In regards to the atmosphere, location and music, Shakafest is one of the best festivals I’ve been to in a while. Gold Coast, do yourself a favour and be sure to get along next year.
IMAGES (c) NJA Photography and Simone Gorman-Clark