Bluesfest 2015: Day One

by Nathan Brown and Evan Young | @browndoggydog + @thebevaneffect

The temporary haven that is Bluesfest 2015 is now open, ready for business.

Freed from the shackles of the daily humdrum, crowds are out in numbers, helping to cultivate the festival’s distinctively cheery air. As reggae legend Jimmy Cliff sung so wonderfully simply to close the night: it’s a wonderful world, filled with beautiful people. It really has been a great start to the weekend, full of great vibes and even better music.

Jugglers, fire breathers and rainbows were always going to catch the eye, though on day one we also came across a few things we didn’t expect to see:

The sun

Having been rained on so many times already and had our hopes for the day dashed by wet weather forecasts, it was a nice surprise to have old Mr. sun shining down on us as we walked through the gates. However that niceness literally flooded away as we spent the afternoon sweating out fluids we didn’t know we had. Jeans and jackets were looking a bad choice until the heavens opened at about 9:30pm, reminding us to stop being unreasonably optimistic and to always, ALWAYS trust the Bureau of Meteorology.

Jack Johnson

It just wouldn’t be Bluesfest without Jack Johnson would it? The festival’s favourite adopted son delighted those at the less traversed Jambalya stage, backing up G. Love & Special Sauce for what will surely be one of the highlights of the entire weekend. It felt like a bit of a surprise considering his unusual absence from the advertised line up, but in one way or another, a little part inside us knew he wouldn’t let us down.

Free Wi-Fi

With Telstra kindly scattering numerous pockets of free Wi-Fi across festival grounds, Bluesfest 2015 is a hotspot in more ways than one. However some didn’t seem to realise The Counting Crows and Augie March were right in front of them, instead seeming focused on deciding on which Instagram filter will best tell their friends how rad #bluesfest is. (Hint: the answer is always Mayfair). It’s a brilliant idea that enables us to save our precious data allowances and check in with what’s happening in the real world.

So many food options

With taco trucks here and burger carts there, most festivals have a fairly standard food and drink selection. Though greeted by a genuine cacophony of edibles and thirst-quenchers, we were reminded Bluesfest is not most festivals. Though horrendously overpriced, enticing scents of gourmet pizzas, curries, beers and bourbons swirled around like the nearby harmonies of Angus and Julia Stone, coalescing into something almost impossible to resist. In the name of pragmatism we opted for mushy homemade egg sandwiches, not that spending a days’ worth of pay on a cone of chips won’t be in our near futures.

A loving media community

Writers and photographers work in a cut throat industry, often stepping on one another in pursuit of THAT story or photo. But in theme with Bluesfest’s general unperturbed attitude, the media tent was a surprisingly lovely place to be. Decked out with coffee, tea, electricity privileges and an elegant hanging rug, our little micro-community of journos and snappers was alive and laughing. Learning from old-timers, making friends and spreading the Catalyst gospel with people from all over the country was as warming as it was beautifully unexpected.

An oversized turntable

There were a few questions of triviality raised as alternative hip-hoppers Jurrasic 5 set up a giant spinning turntable in the middle of their stage. Eye rolls soon turned to elation when the gig begun, as turntablistas DJ Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist (straight from last month’s great Golden Plains performance with DJ Shadow) began to PLAY THE THING. Just when we thought the show had reached peak cool, that was followed by a captivating turn-tar© (a working turntable/guitar hybrid) battle, and in turn, usurping Chali 2na, Akil, Zaakir and Marc 7 as the highlight of a typically incredible J5 set. Exciting, enthralling and enveloping, the props were anything but tacky.

Freddy Crabs’ buldge

Playing at the family-friendly hour of 7:45pm in nothing more than a pair of navy briefs, men and women alike were left blushing watching Sticky Fingers keys player Freddy Crabs do his thing on stage. Prime Possum may have only just gone to sleep, but that didn’t stop Crabs baring almost everything he had in a garment Tony Abbott would be proud of. His extremely-visible junk and body hair added even more volume to the already extremely masculine five piece, as he and the group delivered a crowd-favourite performance worthy of all the pre-festival hype.

Noise cancelling headphones

A worrying amount of people seemed to have their backs turned to the music as we walked the grounds, favouring a giant pair of over-ear noise cancelling headphones instead. Paying hundreds of dollars just to listen to your iPods seemed a bit of a waste. It turns out though those bearing muffs were actually listening to different stages silent disco style via the event’s FM transmissions. In yet another neat coming together of technology and laziness , people were listening to Hozier while on the other side of the festival ordering pancakes (reminder: try that tomorrow). It’s certainly not an idea for everyone but those using it were certainly enjoying it- and that’s what Bluesfest is all about.

The toilets in the state they were in already 

Don’t worry. We won’t show you a photo. Just know the bushes were a far more appealing option. It’s not that we don’t like pools of……..yeah. Thank god for Doc Martens.

Next year’s tickets on sale

Having just cleared out bank accounts around the nation, Bluesfest offered another way to send us deeper into debt: 2016 tickets. For the low, low price of $1150, you can book yourself and a buddy an early bird camping ticket for next year’s event. They’ve sold plenty already despite this year’s edition being barely a day old, though it’s hard to escape the assumption most purchases have been fuelled by a dangerous combination of alcohol and opening day euphoria. The early bird gets the worm as they say, and in this case, the worm is both two cheap tickets to next year’s merriment and another pile of short term debt. Our inner marketers can’t help but think how ingenious the plan is.  

Dutch Tattoos 

In our second Stick Fingers perception for the day, we became part of an inside joke involving frontman Dylan Frost and any Dutch speakers familiar with his chest tattoo. Everyone saw a topless Frost reappear after his crowd dive, tattoo in view, though few knew what it actually meant. Standing next to a photographer who happened to be from Amsterdam, we were informed the word means “yummy” in Dutch. Frost is a genuine dreamboat, and after today’s discovery, in our eyes he’s that little bit more mouth-watering.

Photo by Nathan Brown

You can read more of Nathan and Evan’s Bluesfest coverage here.

Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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