It’s not easy putting on a festival with a world class lineup. You don’t just wake up one morning and decide to get the likes of Public Enemy and Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings down to Sydney to wow audiences over the Christmas break. As I took a wander around the entertainment quarter at Moore Park with James Browning from Niche productions, organisers of Days Like This, he explained that it was a dream of his for quite some time.
“For many years I’ve wanted to put something like this on. I’d jot a few names down on a piece of paper and go ‘imagine that.’ With this lineup it’s pretty damn close to my dream lineup. Rather than going for anything too hip I just wanted to put together something I’d want to go to.”
Crossing the large oval that will be the ‘show ring stage’, James tells me the possibility of putting on such an ambitious event was secured over many years promoting smaller scale tours.
“I’ve been promoting bands locally and international bands for six to eight years now. I guess it was sort of the natural progression to do more, bigger and bigger acts. I kept on getting the taste to do something bigger I guess. The progression to a festival was pretty natural. It wasn’t until I had a few acts already in the bag, I started getting offered more acts and eventually it started to take shape.”
It is certainly a timeless lineup. With the likes of Public Enemy, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and the Platinum Pied Pipers, the new festival boasts a wide range of seasoned artists, as well as some newer locals.
“There’s definitely some debut artists playing like Yo Majesty and The Dodos who are indie. I guess when you think about it all those acts like Sharon Jones, best soul/funk act in the world right now; Fat Freddy’s Drop, best dub act; Atmosphere, some of the best hip hop acts in the world. I do think it’s a bit of a world class lineup.”
Talk wanders to some of the other big festivals that are put on annually in Sydney. James hesitates when comparing his love child to anything on a larger scale.
“If anything I didn’t really want to call this a festival because I know how over saturated and overused that term ‘festival’ is. At the moment I want to look at it like a bit of a block party really. It just so happens there’s a couple of stages.”
As we stroll around the grounds, it is easy to forget that this patch of nature is so close to the city centre. Standing outside where the main stage will be, James points to the Dome which he tells me “will be the more dance, electronic room. And then there’s the forum. I’m sure you’ve been to see a band there.”
“It’s got a village-esque vibe going on. It’s by no means a mega-festival. We’re only talking a pretty small boutique thing. We wanted to keep it pretty intimate. There’s something for everyone there on the bill.”
It seems this idea, of keeping the whole thing a little more intimate and special is something that benefited from a lot of support. We watch a group of tourists pass us as James ponders the benefit of encouragement.
“It was good having a wide network of contacts and people who really love the concept. We hope we can turn it into a bit of a regular event on the calendar.”
Public Enemy will be closing out the festival on the main stage, a group that is worthy of note. Their attendance came with some special instructions from James.
“They’re gonna basically concentrate on playing a lot of their old tracks, from Apocalypse on. We’ve put in that special request.”
With the cancellation of smaller festivals like the Great Escape this year, expectations are tentatively optimistic for Days. As we head towards the bar, James voice takes a positive turn.
“It’s looking really strong and tickets are selling really well. That’s reassuring that we’re on the right path.
Pointing off to his right, James explains his intentions for gourmet food stalls on the day. He tells me this festival is not one that will suffer with a poor choice of unhealthy food, a decision guided by the intended audience.
“From the very beginning I wanted to aim for a demographic. We didn’t want to have kebabs. We put a lot of time into sourcing our food. Basically, what we’re saying is that the music isn’t junk and the food isn’t going to be either.”
“We’re going after a little bit of an older, discerning, music loving crowd who will appreciate it. Everything is going well at the moment.”
Days Like This will be held at the entertainment quarter, Moore Park on the 4th January.