The Inaugural Hey Sunshine Festival

​The inaugural Hey Sunshine Festival was a downpour of brews, tunes, market stalls, live artists and some of the Coast’s best food. Burleigh Brewery played host to the night’s entourage of music lovers while sheltering the early arrivals from the onslaught of rain that continued to buffet the evening. But in the name of music, that didn’t stop the enigmatic punters from owning the grounds, embracing the rain as if were welcomed. For after all, there’s no rainbow until the rain falls.
As the shelter of the Brewery began to fill, and the projection of surf flicks was watched, the vintage racks of garments and jackets was raided and the beers slid down throats, the night’s opening chord was strummed as Galaxy Girls took stage. The surf shack stage was boxed in with the vibes of 90’s memorabilia, complemented by tin walls and dancing lights that made up the rainbow. As Claudia, Kelly and Juna opened with infectious grins, front-runner Elodie set the tone with an optimistic set that absolved the desires for sun and lit the hearts of the crowd with froth. The rain put a hinder in the stride of the thirsty few, but that didn’t stop the handful crew who danced barefoot in the wet, swinging their braided hair to the sway of Galaxy Girls’ beat.

For the brief intermittence between sets the festival goers were in no lack of bangers as The Wonky Queenslander’s tent kicked off. The side tent, a decked out trailer accompanied by blow-up palms, podiums and a light show on another level, was dominated over the course of the night by the pop-up party crew. The night was alight with filthy mixes, slick moves and, of all things, a mobile pole equipped with a professional dancer, which failed to stop any of the more courageous punters from give it a humorous whirl.

As the light began to fade and the showers became less frequent, Peach Fur arrived to a healthy crowd screaming for the local foursome. The Gold Coast boys brought the energy from the start with umbrellas hitting the floor as a mad dash broke for the pitt. To complement the cowboy in tie-dye cutting shapes before Denny, Ben, Mike and Liam, Peach Fur forced the crowd to scream, with a memorable young lass even dubbing the fellas as “Insane.” Peach Fur’s surf rock combination of Sticky Fingers meets Tame Impala took Hey Sunshine into the dark of night.

The next two hours were a blur as the rain fell to a soft fall and the dive between the Wonky Queenslander and the centre stage became more and more of a routine. The Cinema Wristys followed by Borneo drew an invigorating onslaught of head bangers and thrusting fists. The Cinema Wristys christened the night, the everlong lines from the bars dissolve as they entered the stage shack and the initiating strum from Gory, Crispy and Jacques uniting a lust for meaty bass riffs. As the Wristys wrapped and Borneo step into place we’re embraced by stiff strumming that sings to the projections reeling to either side of the stage. A wash of live streamed performance combined with iconic Burleigh surf footage, the montage of Borneo’s set was a play on what made the Gold Coast idealistic. The five piece, comprised of Mark Hillter, the Proph, John Poseidon, Wally Fox and Scrout Squealy, had the smoke machine flaring along with the crowd clapping in rhythm to Borneo’s chants, a wave that intensified to accommodate Mark’s languid crowd-surfing attempts.

Not to mention the continuation of unrivaled musical talent, mastery of beers from the Burleigh Brewing Co. boys and questionable punter dance moves; Mickey Wright, the Quiksilver and Jason Stevenson rider, had a whip from his quiver on display within the Brewery walls as artist extraordinaire Nick Potts illustrated the JS Industries surfboard with a unique art all of his own, with proceeds of the commission donated to the Gold Coast Youth Service. While this was open to be marveled the imaginative Thunder Fox cleansed the gullet and made way for the half-way mark.

Thunder Fox owned the stage, making themselves quite literally at home, with their denial of shorts as they opened with a riveting cover of Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’ draped in nothing but their underpants and a couple t-shirts. With a line-up of six members, there’s no shortage of funk in their sassy performance. With a sax, trumpet, set of strings and snazzy bass the fellas, in their eye-boggling attire, sailed through the sprinkle as the crowd hustled further and further toward capacity, and if their groove wasn’t enough to stir ticket-holders then their closing call of ‘Killing in the Name Of’ sang deep into the hearts of the crowd with force.

Those unfamiliar with Carlos LaraJimmy Young and Jack Gray were introduced with a colossal set with the largest crowd of the night soon after Thunder Foxes exit. As the rain wilted to nothing more than a memory, Bootleg Rascal got the Brewery fizzing with an electro-display of lights, smoke and energy. It was impossible to catch front man Carlos still as he bounced around the stage with determined vigor. Bootleg’s hooky song-craft of surf and hip-hop quaked with hints of reggae, hints of Rage Against the Machine, made the 90’s visuals on the projectors all the more engrossing as the set progressed. With the accompaniment of bras being thrown on stage, later to be worn on Carlos’ head, the closing song belted the air with an absolute thrash fest with unrivaled vivacity, only setting up what was now anticipated to come.

The headliners of the night took stage later than first warranted, a fact that did little to repress the Brisbane band’s extended set. The drying crowd awaited, patient as the night, as synchronised head bobs rocked the venue – punters and musicians alike – and the Belligerents debuted ‘Science Fiction’ live for the first time. With Konstantin slapping the bass, Jimmy and Andy jiving in sync, White Stag beating the drums, it was iconic to witness Lowis’ fan-revered limp hip shake as he strummed and let the vocals fly. With Lowis’ black on black attire and the boys closely following suit, the fresh five-piece owned Hey Sunshine with suave entertainment. It’s rare to see the appearance of such a positive crowd, those of mixed discourse and musical tastes, though as the Belligerents hypnotised the chaotic crowd, enveloping them in their art, there was one thing apparent – completely consistent – music always wins. And in this case, Hey Sunshine was welcomed into the music festival world with a bang.

Published by Rabbit Radio
Photographed Alix McKenzie

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