Review: Festival of the Sun 2013

Bunting flags hanging in the sunset at a music festival

Port Macquarie’s 13th Festival of the Sun delivers the ultimate summer festival vibe, writes Jasmine Burke.

Bunting flags hanging in the sunset at a music festival

On December 13- 14, the wonderfully chilled annual event Festival of the Sun celebrated its 13th year as part of the Australian music scene. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, you’ve been missing out.

Fondly referred to by the locals as Fotsun or Frothsun, Festival of the Sun is one of Australia’s coolest boutique festivals, hosting an intimate crowd of 3,000. Often described as a large-scale backyard barbecue, it has been named a blistering celebration of summer, Australian music and East Coast living. The festival is situated in Port Macquarie (2.5 hours north of Newcastle) at the Sundowner Breakwall Tourist Park. The BYO aspect and the fact that you’re practically camping on Town Beach gives it the ultimate laidback beachside vibe, unlike any other music festival.

One guy even dressed up as a taco… props to them for effort.

This year the organisers tried something new, naming Friday the 13th ‘The Black Friday Edition’. Everyone was encouraged to dress up in Mexican Day of the Dead theme. While some people went all out with the fiesta style, others got a little confused with the Mexican part and came donning ponchos, sombreros and fake moustaches. One guy even dressed up as a taco… props to them for effort.

Friday afternoon saw everyone set up their campsites and crack open a few cold ones. The park was buzzing with excitement and no one showed signs of slowing down on the bevvies as we waited for the music to kick off.

Headliner, You Am I, was an awesome live act that should not go unmentioned. A friend described their set as “being at the Annandale in the mid 90s when they were bigger than Jesus”. Needless to say, they slayed the classics.

This year young local talents, 17-yr-old KITA and 21-yr-old James Bennett took to the acoustic stage. Both unleashed their beautifully unique indie/folk/pop tunes upon the crowd, and were thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.

The Beards‘ played an entertaining and energetic set with of course all their songs focusing on well… beards.

Despite feeling dusty as a used broom, Set Sail was a great way to start the Saturday. Every sleep deprived and hung-over soul found it hard to resist the cool surf rock vibes. The use of violins, harmonica and unusual middle 8s added something new to what can often be a repetitive genre.

It was dark and raining, the stage lights were flashing and the crowd was moshing.

Stonefield came to the stage Saturday afternoon and absolutely killed it. They are a very talented group of young girls who can hypnotise a crowd with their rock and roll tunes. Although I am unsure whether at that point the main attraction was them, or the epic group sand fight that broke out near the front of the stage and lasted for their whole set.

Kingswood played some awesome blues with a distorted grungy sound and were really entertaining. Though at times the lead singer overly involved himself with the crowd,  kind of losing that mystique that the true ‘ice cool’ bluesman have.

The rain did not stop Ash Grunwald from offering sublime craftsmanship on that lapsteel guitar of his, creating an atmosphere that was mellow but at the same time slightly frenetic due to the stormy weather. The upbeat distorted guitar/ dance/ blues hybrid set that he delivered had something for everyone, making it one of the highlights of the festival.

It’s easy to understand why The Rubens shared the headlining title, attracting most of the festival-goers as the last set of the weekend. It was dark and raining, the stage lights were flashing and the crowd was moshing. Everyone was loving life as the foursome rocked out. Finishing with the hit My Gun was an excellent way to end the splendid two days.

With an atmosphere like no other, this year’s Fotsun delivered once again without fail. The varied lineup, the cruisy vibes and the people all made for another splendid weekend. The only bad thing was that it had to end.

Image: garryknight

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