Queenscliff Music Festival – Friday (25/11/11)

It was Friday night, the first of the weekend-long Queenscliff Music Festival, and as people began to wander into the grounds at Princess Park there was a feeling of anticipation in the air. The good people at QMF had managed to put together an eclectic and exciting lineup and for those of us planning to see the weekend through to its conclusion there was a need for timetable scrutiny and paced drinking.

Leah Flanagan’s soulful country music offered the perfect way to ease into proceedings. While her band added a slick, jazzy feel, aided in part by the inclusion of double bass, it was Flanagan’s incredible voice that commanded the most attention. Her voice at times is reminiscent of Mia Dyson, but stronger, the inclusion of a Dolly Parton cover was a great way to showcase its full, husky power.

Another incredible vocal could be heard at the Lighthouse main stage, Gossling’s unmistakable tones seemed all the more fragile in the surroundings of that big tent. Her voice is so high that when she speaks she sounds like a little girl, although she knows how to use it to her advantage and it suits the music.

Her light, piano based pop style was not exactly gripping and several of the songs felt a bit too simple, one particular song “War”, about imagining what it would be like to be amidst a war, managed to be both overly serious and trivial at the same time. Having said that, the following morning she would go on to captivate a packed room at The Vue Grand hotel, the intimate settings doing her much more of a favour than the vast, half full tent.

It took three guys from Melbourne masquerading as slimy Mexicans to inject some much needed energy and general ‘festival’ vibes into the proceedings. Over at The Pelican Bar Puta Madre Brothers performed their Spanish-garage rock styled music to an initially hesitant crowd, who were up and dancing by halfway through the set. This occurred after Anto Macarroni told the crowd that they would refuse to play until people came closer to the front, once this occurred the band in turn fed off the energy, as they are very well suited to a festival and not the sort of group that one should enjoy sitting down.

PMB’s sound is comprised of spaghetti western-inspired lead guitar parts delivered with a tough, garage tone, Spanish acoustic guitar, a solid bass and sloppy drums, due in part to the fact that all three members play kick drums and the occasional cymbal whilst also playing guitar. The arrangements within the songs interplayed the three guitars perfectly and the occasional bit of shouted words or actual singing helped to diversify the mainly instrumental music.

QMF has a very ‘family friendly’ image, which the eclectic lineup reflects, and throughout the festival parents were sharing the music that they love with their kids and often the other way around as well. However at some points the older and younger members of the audience had to part company, and whilst the Triple J generation flocked to see The Herd on the main stage, the middle age set showed just as much devotion to Psuedo Echo at the Hippo Stage.

Rocking a keytar, hugely reverberant rack toms and snare, a catalogue of well loved material and beer guts, Pseudo Echo were not here to reinvent themselves or to sell us anything new. Instead they proudly performed a ‘best of’ set that pleased the baby boomers and did the band’s legacy no disservice; in fact it was the highlight performance of the night.

This was a band who know who there audience is, being the same people who bought their albums in the 80’s, and know what they want to hear. Brian Carnham might not look much like a pop star these days but there wasn’t a note out of place from him or any of the band and they absolutely owned the stage, finishing with their biggest hit, their cover of Lipps Inc.’s “Funkytown”.

Meanwhile, The Herd were sounding incredible over at the main stage delivering some sophisticated pop/hip-hop with an engaging amount of energy and some great songs, including the set closer “The King is Dead”, which was a huge sing-a-long and Jane Tyrell looked genuinely humbled by the crowd’s appreciation.

Half an hour and a tasty roti wrap later and Eskimo Joe took to the main stage. The band were in good form and played plenty of their older material, to the delight of their audience. Their sound remains quite 90’s and they seemed to rely on anthem-a-bility with a lot of rockstar posing, all of which mean that bogans will love it, so there was a lot of punching the air while rocking a bourbon can with the other. All in all, the people who know and like the music of Eskimo Joe seemed to really enjoy it, for everyone else it was a fairly standard rock show.

Over at the Pelican Bar there was drinking and dancing to be done as DJ Pierre Baroni dished out some classic soul, before everyone was kicked out at the grand old time of 1AM, stumbling out to occupy the pizza shops and streets of Queenscliff and perhaps prepare for the following day.

More to come…

Originally published on The AU Review on 28/11/2011. View original article.

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