by Kylie Cobb, published also in Issue #17 of MouthZoff Magazine
Why TBar Fest shows that every event needs to decide whether it's a gig or festival; only then will punters be drawn time and time again to home-grown local music at its best.
Dallas Frasca never fails to impress and was the highlight of Tbar Festival 2014. Photography Courtesy of Jeremy Harris.
To adequately review the TBar Fest, I’m going to give you what teachers call a ‘Positive Sandwich’: two slices of positive affirmations surrounding a not-so-positive, but still constructive criticism. I am forewarning readers because as a reviewer I am obligated to give my honest opinion no matter how much I favour the organisers or performers. If you’d like to just read the good stuff then stick to the first and last paragraphs! If, on the other hand, you are courageous enough to contemplate what I fear is a growing trend in the music scene then go ahead...eat the filling too.
The first slice: TBar Fest was well organised; getting tickets, accommodation and navigating our way around the festival was easy. The sound system was exceptional and not a single squealing amp nor hard-to-hear vocals (although please refer to the ‘filling’ for more on this topic). The afternoon was kicked off with local talent, which is fantastic because I am a huge fan of towns supporting their own crop. Standouts for me were young alt/rock four piece, Kasper. Asa Broomhall drew me in with his witty banter and singing through his harmonica. Dallas Frasca, in her ever growing rock glory never fails to impress. Blues outfit Devil’s Kiosk gave them a head start with their groove-inducing musicianship. However Dallas and guitarist, Jeff Curran worked hard to get the audience off their seats and rocking down front. Transvaal Diamond Syndicate kept up a crazy pace with a sizeable handful of punters rocking the night away, finishing at 2am with an encore of “hillbilly metal”!
My main beef with this event is that it had all the promises of a ‘festival’ but at the end of the day was a pub gig - a really, really, really, really long pub gig.
They had more than four bands in the lineup and a stellar sound system. But that, for me is where the likeness ends. When I wanted to talk to someone or needed a break from the music (which was quite often as the sound system was too loud for the space), it was to a concreted ‘smoking area’ at the back of the pub. I’m a non smoker. So when the sun set and the unexpected cold crept in (even inside), I had nowhere to go. Except home...where some people went.
At a festival I want to lose myself in the crowd and rock out. I just couldn’t do that there; 1) I was too tired; it had been a long day in the smoker’s section, and 2) At its peak I’d say there were 100 people there and by the time headline act Dallas Frasca came on at 11ish there were 50. Honestly, if I hadn’t driven two hours to get there, paid $98 for accommodation and really wanted to see the headlining bands, I would have left the gig at 6pm. Or better still, not come to the gig till 8pm - a six hour aural assault is doable in return for some musical goodness from my fave musos, but not eleven of them.
I feel like I’ve been to far too many ‘festivals’ lately that deliver the same results: the promise of a festival experience but at the end of the day a long gig and an ear ache.
I’ll finish this sandwich with commendation for the intention of this event, which is to foster a culture of live original music in a regional city and give emerging local musicians a leg-up by putting them on a lineup with more established national acts.
Events like this are so important and I’ve made it my job to back them. I would though, like to see it be one or the other: a gig or a festival. That way we will have a win-win-win. The punters know what they’re in for; the organisers can earn some money (let’s face it, it’s a tonne of work and there’s no way this event made a profit) and together, we foster a growing appreciation and demand for quality, live, original music throughout Australia. With a more open festival-style atmosphere and somewhere appealing to retreat when needed, this festival has the potential to be a delicious, positive-filled hamburger-with-the-lot!