Fingers and toes and wishes on stars this wasn’t the last one! With its future still under a dark cloud, this year’s end to the St Kilda Festival was bloody marvellous. What started decades ago as a weekend arts festival nurturing the growing bohemian culture, it has evolved into a Melbourne institution; a hub for world culture, arts and musicians who would kill to be on the bill for any of the festivals no less than 7 stages.
This year my visit saw the same amazing clash of music, culture, colour, food, markets, and dancing, including a slice of the Brazilian Carnival, workshops, the ol’ beach volleyball and, of course, an interesting and eclectic mix of people. Jumping off the 96 tram and into the crowd on Fitzroy Street, we were first greeted by samba dancers, who pulled a pretty decent crowd. From here on, the usual buskers and street performers lined Fitzroy Street.
The crowd, although as amazingly high in numbers as usual, was easier to navigate than the last couple of years, which I suspect comes down to the festival being wisely spread over more of St Kilda including the beach, the 7 different areas to watch music and the absurd number of activities and goings on over the space of a couple kilometres. The vibe was different among the crowd this year, like a silent camaraderie, as if we knew each other person turned up to give extra support and get the absolute most out of this day, in case this brilliant festival is taken away, as is rumoured. I see another Tote rebellion coming on if this be the case!
Walking down the Esplanade, we caught whiffs of cooking from the amazing food stalls, most of which – like the perennially popular potato on a stick – are based at the night markets at the Queen Vic every Wednesday night. Beer gardens lined the street, pretty white-fenced enclosures surrounding Sunday sesh drinkers while basking in the sun with a Carlton. The markets are the usual you see on Sundays in St Kilda, including my favourite stall, Mecino – gorgeous handmade kitsch and fairytale jewellery, which I collect almost compulsively.
The highlight of the St Kilda Festival is the music. The New Music stage is my favourite as it showcases my passion – new and independent local musicians. The main stage is where I spent a lot of time this year because the lineup was so freakin’ amazing: Oh Mercy, Pez, Bluejuice, Juggernaut DJs and The Cat Empire turning out to be the “secret sunset act”.
Bluejuice were, as always, super fun and entertaining. I love them. They’re hilarious, loveable guys who don’t take themselves too seriously and because of this are always popular with a festival crowd. They create some awesome, catchy tunes that just make you plain happy listening to!
One of the most outstanding acts of the day on the main stage was Ash Grunwald. There we were, chilling on the grass under the toasty Melbourne summer sun in front of the stage, listening to ridiculously smooth bluesy rock; we appreciated how truly lucky we are in this city to have such festivals to experience. The St Kilda Festival really is a big part of our culture in Melbourne and I really can’t imagine this city going a year without it.