When somebody offers you a $20 ticket to a sold out festival, you close your books, add them to your already towering “to do” pile and pack your tent, camera and ciders into the car – no questions asked.
The destination was Mt Samson – home to Brisbane’s only BYO drinks and BYO couches festival, Red Deer. From humble beginnings in 2010 with less than 500 guests, the festival is now in its fourth year and has grown significantly. Set in a forest with a natural amphitheatre, a melting pot of bands from around Australia graced the two stages for 12 hours of non-stop musical delight. With a focus on delivering an intimate alternative to other major music festivals and a clear vision to support local unsigned musicians, we predict big things in years to come.
One of the first bands to take to the sweltering heat of the stage was Sneeky Picnic. The five-piece all girl band hail from the Gold Coast and were “here to get the party started”. Although the term girl band may make you cringe, heads quickly began to turn as the pleasant surprise of an impressive rapper flooded the speakers. Their music is a combination of catchy melodies and fast flowing rapping, and the band’s rap/pop vibe was a breath of fresh air. Their youthful high energy performance definitely set the mood for what was to come later in the night. Check out some of their tracks here.
The next band that I think deserves a mention is Nova & The Experience. The Brisbane born Sydney-based band are fronted by a brother/sister duo, and their chilled tracks were perfect for a sunny afternoon with friends. I arrived just in time as they frisby-ed out their EPs to the crowd. I had to take on some pretty intoxicated people to score a copy, but that was a risk I was willing to take. Although I missed the first half of their set, luck was on my side and I made it in time for my personal favourites, ‘We Are The Children’ and ‘Dragonflies and Waterfalls’. N.A.T.E’s captivating harmonies and polished lyrics draw you into a state of awe. Their dynamic performance was a joy to watch as they danced around on stage, and proved infectious as the crowd grew in front of them. And just when you thought it was all over, they dived into an upbeat cover of the theme song from the cartoon Arthur. Unexpected, but brilliant!
As light turned to dark, the calibre of the acts continued to escalate. Whether he’s releasing music as The Beautiful Girls or under his new identity – Mat McHugh & The Seperatista SoundSystem – there is no denying his gentle voice and engaging presence. The crowd drew close to the stage as they sang along to Mat and his guitar, and a sense of happiness echoed through the forest. Mat left everyone begging for more, as general consensus found the 45minute set just wasn’t long enough.
My absolute highlight of the day though came at 11pm. I was casually sitting in my blow-up chair whenI heard the beginning of ‘Science Is Golden’ and looked up to see The Grates. As expected, their energy levels were through the non-existent roof from the beginning right through to the very end, and the entirety of Red Deer was feeding off that vibe. They played some old stuff, some new stuff, and even dropped a few cheeky new songs they’ve been working on, so stay tuned for those releases. There is no denying that Patience is one of the most enigmatic front-women out there. Whether she’s asking the audience if they can howl like a possum on heat or spontaneously crowd-surfing, there was a collective chatter of approval and positive remarks about her performance. Plus, she’s probably the only person who can don a pompom jacket and rock it like it’s nobody’s business, so bonus points all round.
So forget the hour-long wait to use the bathroom and long festival queues to purchase overpriced mid-strength drinks; save your old couches and get yo’ asses to Red Deer next year for a unique experience!