For some, the long wait between festival seasons is a time of planning, saving and anticipation. For Raj Pandita it is an endless wasteland that he’d do anything to avoid where possible. So it’s no surprise that when we offered him the chance to cruise up to Gosford, NSW for a musical smorgasbord, the car was already hitting 100 kph down the freeway by the time he could say “yes please!”.
…And so it was that we found ourselves at the Coaster Music Festival 2011, rocking the day away in a sunny patch of the Gosford Showgrounds; an intrepid band of Melbournites attempting (and somewhat failing) to blend into the crowd of Central Coasters that had gathered to party the day away to tunes both new and old.
With the temperature firmly parked in the high twenties, and only a scattering of clouds throughout the day, people had definitely dressed the part: The shorts were short and the t-shirts were… well mostly discarded before the gates opened at midday. I did feel a little sorry for the gentleman sporting the word “Burn” clearly marked on his back (possibly the only skin on his back that wasn’t) but the medics and sunscreen were both in ample supply to keep the punters healthy.
What I really appreciated at Coaster (and by the reaction so did the crowd), was the unabashed bias toward Central Coast acts, the modern, the reformed and the still kicking. The loyalty and patriotism to the region was definitely noticed by the audience and much appreciated, in a time when festivals are importing more and more from overseas to get the crowds in, it’s nice to see someone supporting emerging local talent and bringing the big acts home again to thank the loyal supporters.
Of particular note was the double-header line-up kicked off by One Dollar Short, and fired off straight after with Something With Numbers. With One Dollar Short having been on hiatus for about six years now and 2008 the last time we saw a release from Something With Numbers this was somewhat of a special moment for both bands as new fans and old alike were in rapture over this reunion slash love-in session. The early afternoon sun baked down, the boys on stage pumped out tune after rocking tune and the small but dedicated crowd partied like there was no tomorrow.
With a line-up filled with the likes of Little Red, Bag Raiders, Horrowshow, Jebediah, Drapht and headlined by the eternally loved John Butler Trio, this really was a festival for everyone. Catering to every crowd from: Alt-Folk to Aussie Hip-Hop, oh and did I mention a dedicated DJ stage for anyone who felt the urge to get their shuffle on? There was more than a few acts that were making an appearance on account of new releases, some seemed to bring the noise better than others. Jebediah were in fine form in the late afternoon, bringing a set filled with pure energy and hits both old and new. Unfortunately Little Red couldn’t seem to muster as much on the same stage later that night, the crowd seemed amicable enough but I couldn’t help wander if the touring circuit was beginning to weigh heavily on the boys’ energy levels.
My personal high-point of the day came as the clock struck 4 and a skinny Brisbane boy took to the Blue Stage backed by an eclectic bunch of musician and Gosford was asked the question, “Are you ready for some Ball Park Music!?”. Not that they do, but if people were to ask me who’s on the top of my list of emerging Aussie talent my answer would be Ball Park Music hands down (followed a close second by Ball Park Music).
The band brings a passion and obsession for the performance like no one else can, they’ll have you flailing about wildly in the crowd, desperately trying to outdo the wild acts of contortion performed by front man Sam Cromack. The music comes both wild and clean at the same time like perfectly rehearsed improvisation… if that makes any sense. After touring all over the god damn place supporting whoever and wherever they’ve finally released an LP and are hitting the circuit once more only now as the headlining act. Seriously. If you do not go out and listen to Ball Park Music right now you will regret it when everyone is talking about these guys in six months time.
If you’re in the area when Coaster swings around once more in 2012 get your butt down there and you will not regret it, the Central Coast definitely lends itself well to the outdoor festival setting and it makes me somewhat jealous having to head back down south to deal with the mud and rain that have become main stays of the Victoria music festival. That’s not to say it is without improvement, the layout of the stages and bar areas combined with the audience numbers meant that a bias toward the drinking sections left even the main stage feeling a little underwhelmed even when the headliners rolled out.
All in all Coaster brought a good vibe, a decent crowd and a great blend of music proved without a doubt that it’s not just the Capital Cities that know how to put on a bash.
Words by Raj.