It rains. It rains really hard. Outside of that, the Queenscliff Music Festival is an enjoyable if not musically confusing experience. Friday night before the ridiculous rain hits, The Beautiful Girls, The Herd and Eskimo Joe kick off proceedings in the festival’s largest tent; The Lighthouse Stage.
Split into three sections; seated, all ages, and the bar, the crowd fills the massive circus tent and oh-so-slowly begin to enjoy themselves. Compared to the schedule on Saturday and Sunday, Friday night seems to be programmed specifically for the under 40s, which may explain why the bar section of the tent overflows with revellers. The standout act of the night is The Herd, who pump out their politically charged set with gusto, coercing the crowd into at least shuffling along, although the bar section do not need much encouragement.
If you paused the festival at that moment, you could describe it as a perfect spring shindig. Unfortunately, there’s no pause button on Mother Nature.
Saturday morning rolls round with thunderstorms and a stupid amount of rain, and most festivalgoers choose not to leave their houses, tents or cars. Those that do don gumboots, plastic ponchos and serious sailing gear and are rewarded with great performances by festival regularsTiffany Eckhardt and Carus Thompson, and amazingly the tents appear to withstand the 85 odd millimetres of rain dumped on them.
On Saturday night, the Lighthouse stage is again the place to be, with The Wagons and The Cruel Sea drawing big numbers. The pairing of these two acts is a confusing programming choice, as young things with glow sticks dance like there’s no tomorrow next to people who remember buying The Honeymoon Is Over on cassette.
On an organisational level, the festival has really stepped up its game in recent years, now offering camping tickets, a more frequent shuttle bus that will take patrons all over the peninsula, and a blanket ban on chairs at the main stage after 7pm. The programming, however, does feel a little confused, with party favourites Stonefield and Gypsy & The Cat relegated to sore-head Sunday afternoon, while comparatively chilled out band The Red Eyes occupy the late night spot on Saturday. We’re guessing the unusual programming is an attempt by QMF programmers to maintain their core audience from previous years while attempting to attract a younger age group, and looking at the diverse range of attendees, we’d say they’ve got it right.