Peats Ridge Festival

Peats Ridge Festival


Peats Ridge Festival has proven itself so much more than a pretentious art crowd and hippy-fest event that it has become associated with. The integration of sustainability, as a world-leader in sustainable events, with the presentation of upcoming and established talents has formed Peats Ridge as an influential platform for music of the upcoming era.


Perfectly positioned an hour north of Sydney and in the Southern area of the Central Coast, Peats Ridge Sustainable Arts and Music Festival annually attracts an abnormal variety of bands, performers, artists as well as crowds. It is the perfect clutter of mis-matched music, crowds and abstract art which is the driving force behind the success of Peats Ridge Festival, creating an atmosphere unfamiliar to many music festival-goers. Whilst the relaxed and chilled atmosphere of the Chai Temple could entrance you for hours with its slow indie and folk tunes, the pulsating dance music of the Dub Shack could keep you awake and dancing for days straight – and, for many, it did.


DAY 1 - Wednesday, 29 December


As the gates of the festival opened at 10am, an eager, anticipating and excited crowd was non-existent. The venue, with one dusty and rough dirt road entry and exit, made this impossible. Rather, there was a quiet and relaxed crowd of festival-goers wandering in and out the festival gates, many taking the morning to set up camp amongst the acres of fields.


Many early-risers were willing to sacrifice the festival opening ceremony on the main Bellbird stage for the sweet acoustic sound of Georgia Fair on the Lyrebird. Georgia Fair captured their audience with their, now very well known, single ‘ Picture Frames', a catchy song perfectly suited to the early atmosphere of the festival. The Lyrebird continued to entertain early audiences with acoustic sounds of Steve Poltz, who's melodic and twisted lyrics were impossible not to enjoy. As the crowd builded, so did the music, as Evan and the Brave began to build up the atmosphere with their 5-part acoustic folk sound.


Back at the Bellbird, the crowds were beginning to emerge from the shady trees, which were awkwardly located at least 200 metres from the stage, to welcome emerging successes of Chase the Sun. The mediocre announcements of each act were overshadowed by the intensifying atmosphere of the crowd. Washington was warmly welcomed by the crowd willing to endure the pulsating sunshine to experience the Washington's lyrics of substance, described by herself as ‘sonic polaroids'. Washington was an ideal prelude to the fast-paced pop music of The Jezabels, who's sophisticated and popular lyrics won over many resorting to shady backdrop of the Festival's waterhole.


The festival was truly buzzing as the Shout Out Louds drifted through the afternoon. As the temperature dropped and the sun backed off, the audience was only growing in anticipation of headlining artists Angus and Julia Stone. As the crew tested sound and instruments, the crowd chanted ‘Stones, Stones, Stones...' The duo, who had began their festival career at Peats Ridge in the Chai Temple, had truly captured the atmosphere of the festival perfectly, their soft yet powerful musical arrangements entrancing the crowd for 45 ground-breaking minutes.


DAY 2 - Thursday, 30 December


After a climatic night of dance, indie, rock, pop and dubstep tunes the second day continued to provide festival-goers with an odd combination of performances. On Bellbird, the intense drum sounds of Jonathan Boulet perfectly captured the intensity of Panavision pop music. Followed by the unique lyrical absurdity of Lightspeed Champion, much of the audience was forced to return to the safety of the trees and waterholes.


Back on the Lyrebird stage, the popular musical sound of Hungry Kids of Hungary were capturing the heat-exhausted audience, bringing many to their feet and towards the intense light and heat of the front of stage. The Lyrebird continued to entertain and be the salvation of those attempting to avoid intense sunlight and heat. An assortment of musical talents from the Hip-hop collective of Thundamentals to the indie-rock sound of Born Ruffians continued to pull crowds to their feet despite the dust and heat which dominated the festival grounds.


DAY 3 - Friday, 31 December


As the hangovers kicked in and the heat dragged everyone from the comfort of their tents, the festival did not falter in providing good vibes and keeping the festival going at a fast pace. Once again, the Lyrebird appeared the foster to the heat-affected crowds providing both genuine entertainment and shelter. The indie sounds and powerful lyrics of Dead Letter Chorus put the zest into the over-tired, over-drunk and over-heated audience, with their careful harmonies and unique stage presence.


On the Bellbird, the highlights of the festival began to emerge. The upbeat rock of Ernest Ellis would have won over the crowd if it wasn't for the 3.30pm timeslot which saw the heat of the sun only just wearing down. By late afternoon crowds began to gather around the Bellbird in anticipation of established musical artist, Kate Miller-Heidke. The vocal dynamics of Miller-Heidke's voice had the crowd excited, in awe and in laughter. If there is one thing this artist can achieve it is a direct relationship with the artist, belting out her ‘ Slim-Shady' cover and her popular song ‘ Are You Fucking Kidding Me?' (The Facebook Song). Popular radio songs such as ‘ Last Day on Earth' and ‘ Caught in the Crowd' attracted the less alternative crowd, and the act became as dynamically appealing as it was vocal.


Entering the festival for my first time wondering, "why on earth do people pay 300 dollars for a festival where the line-up isn't necessarily the best?", and leaving complimenting, "I will pay 300 dollars for Peats Ridge next year" is a summary in itself. It is not only the music that makes Peats Ridge what it is today; it's art, crowds, volunteers, the location and even camping. It may not be the most comfortable 4 days of your life, but it sure is one hell of an experience. Well done to the organisers and plenty of thanks to all those involved in helping!

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