by Jasmine Gailer published also in Issue #17 of MouthZoff Magazine
Jasmine Gailer found it hard to fault Mitchell Creek Rock N Blues Fest because the usual festival-headaches like alcohol-fueled disorder, mosh-pit injuries and hour-long cues were nonexistent.
As we towed our caravan along a dirt road with no GPS network, following the scattering of inconspicuous ‘Festival This Way -->’ signs, it seemed like Mitchell Creek Rock N Blues Fest might be one of the Sunshine Coast’s best kept secrets. There wasn’t a soul to be seen along our drive from the Bruce Highway (unless you count the strange but charming homemade scarecrows that lined the Kandanga streets), but upon rounding the last corner a whole valley of tents appeared, along with a crowd swelling to 2000 plus. If it ever was, Mitchell Creek Rock N Blues Fest is definitely not a secret anymore; festival goers attend from all over Australia and musicians travel from all over the world to be part of this unique weekend.
Rock and Blues music seems to attract a certain type of person in general: mad-keen on music, dances like nobody’s watching, and not afraid to chat to strangers.
The relaxed vibe was obvious from the outset, with festival goers, volunteers, press and musicians mingling together at the entrance, soaking up the atmosphere. There was ample space to park our caravan and no one seemed to really mind where we put it. The set-up of Mitchell Creek is really quite cool, with the music and food set out on the largest flat section of the valley and the campers up on the hills that surround it. It makes for fantastic acoustics and great views. For campers not so keen on having close neighbours it was easy enough just to move further away from the centre; nothing like what we’ve experienced at larger festivals where tents are packed like sardines.
Rock and Blues music seems to attract a certain type of person in general: mad-keen on music, dances like nobody’s watching, and not afraid to chat to strangers. It was a crowd of like-minded people who support good quality, original music.
There was not a bikini-clad, flouro-donning teenager in sight at this festival!
It is held in the middle of nowhere, away from main roads, nightclubs and (god forbid) phone reception! Although there’s a good mix of people who attend; from trendy 20-somethings to grey nomads and tie-dye wearing hippies, the love of music united all. Unlike other festivals we’ve been to, this one was BYO, which may call to mind images of over-indulging drunkards running rampant, however it seems that handing over the responsibility to patrons pays dividends, with a noticeable absence of rushing ambulances, argy-bargy security guards and barbed-wire fencing.
Don’t get me wrong; all this talk about the ‘chill out man’ vibe gives the wrong impression. Note: Mitchell Creek Rock N Blues Fest is not for the faint hearted!
Music starts at 8am in the mornings and runs until midnight, followed by a free-for-all jam session in the bar tent that ran until the birds chirped the next morning. With two stages side by side showcasing one band after the other there is rarely a quiet moment. We look back with bitter-sweet tastes in our mouths on the sounds of Jason Lockhorst and Nathan Kaye making for fantastic alarm clocks.
The lineup this year was stellar. Up and comers like The Pierce Brothers and Phil Barlow & the Wolf really grabbed the attention of the audience, while old favourites The Soul Men drew the biggest crowd of the weekend.
The absolute highlight of the weekend’s lineup was the noticeable domination of women musicians. Stonefield, Dallas Frasca and Sandi Thom all headlined and not to mention the plethora of other rockin’ women who performed throughout: Lani & Lecia, Two Girls Will and Cass Eager to name but a few. It was truly great to see chicks representing at an Australian music festival.
We would love to give an unbiased review of the food but unfortunately after discovering ‘Pancake’ and ‘Nacho Guy’ we were as faithful as two loved up penguins! We had packed our own food for the festival to save our cash but the appeal of sitting on deck chairs in the warm sun enjoying the sounds of Richard Perso’s didgeridoo over a stack of pancakes and bacon was all too appealing. Luckily we weren’t the only hungry campers because we would never have strayed away from our favourites if it weren’t for the rave review’s of ‘Ole Gourmet Calamari’.
It is hard to fault Mitchell Creek Rock N Blues Fest because the usual festival-headaches like alcohol-fueled disorder, mosh-pit injuries and hour-long cues were nonexistent. There were a few teething problems perhaps at the most. A common complaint heard amongst friends was of too many cover bands. With the popularity that the festival is earning we doubt that this will remain a problem come 2015. Our only further suggestion would be to delay the music to a 10am start and have some laid-back acoustic artists play first. Waking up to a rock band at 8am was a little too much for this happy camper.
We had a blast at Mitchell Creek Rock N Blues Fest. Even if we didn't like the early mornings, we must admit that for many the ample music was a big plus because the sound that traveled through the valley was of such a high quality that you could sit in your caravan or by your tent and still enjoy the awesome sounds of rock n blues like you were right by the stage. It made it possible to enjoy each performance no matter where you were at the festival; lounging on some deck chairs eating pancakes, chatting to artists in the bar lounge, or rolling out of the caravan at 10am.
What we took away from the weekend was simple: rock n blues rocks! Not all the musicians who played at Mitchell Creek would class themselves as rock or blues but the class of musician that this type of festival attracts is clearly of a high standard. We drove away on Monday having overdosed on about 50 hours of live music. The need for a good shower and a proper sleep was high and needless to say the car radio stayed off for at least a few hours. Having said that, while the festival crew were taking down the tents and starting the clean up (over 10 tonnes of rubbish and hardly a piece out of place, the site was left pristine!) we couldn't tear ourselves away until we’d had an impromptu bass guitar lesson on some camping chairs with a local guitar teacher. See what we mean? A grass roots experience that unites us all.
Definitely not a festival to be missed on the calendar!