When Music Feeds first broke the news that one of Australia’s most iconic OG music festivals Narara was about to return for the first time in more than three decades, the response was — to say the least — bloody ‘yuge.
Frothing punters shared the story more than 1K times on Facebook and festival promoter Adrian Buckley was so inundated by the response that he was forced to upgrade his Central Coast venue to Mount Penang Parklands (AKA the home of Mountain Sounds) to cope with the massive demand.
But, as he tells Music Feeds, when the Narara team first unveiled their official lineup for the festival’s glorious comeback — a carefully curated selection of some of the country’s best upcoming rock & blues acts including The Vanns, The Snowdroppers, Lepers and Crooks, Polish Club and more — they were hit with “blowback from folks who thought Narara 2017 would be about getting the remaining acts that played back in ’83 &’ 84 back for this year”.
“The good ole Nostalgiafest,” Buckley tells Music Feeds. “We never wanted it to be about that.”
Thousands of fans have very fond memories of the OG Narara Music Festival, which saw a delegation of earth-conquering Aussie acts like INXS, Men At Work, Cold Chisel, The Angels, Choirboys, The Divinyls and more head to Somersby (confusingly not actually Narara) during the heyday of the pub rock era of the early eighties.
But Buckley wants the reincarnated fest to be about looking forward, not back.
“There are so many Nostalgiafests now,” he says. “When you have Hope Estate, Day on The Green, Live at the Foreshore, Red Hot Summer Tour all basically running the same festivals in different locations it’s like, enough is enough. These events feel like those home renovation shows on TV where every channel decided to produce one.”
“Why aren’t we supporting younger bands, opening our ears & minds to new music. I feel for the bands who all fill decent sized rooms but have few actual rock festivals to play at,” Buckley says. “Our aim is to bring that back & we hope that punters will get behind it.”
When you think of the term ‘rock’ nowadays, it does seems to be a bit synonymous with those kinds of older school ‘dad’ era bands that packed out the OG Narara Festival lineup when they were all still young and trendy, with most modern-day acts who play rock-based music preferring to qualify themselves as either “indie” or “alternative” so as not to be viewed as a naff throwback to an uncool dinosaur genre.
“We’d like to be a part of the renaissance of Australian rock music,” Buckley says. “Rock music is part of Australian culture & we’re really good at it. I know a lot of younger festival crowds are more into broad-genre based festivals with a large EDM or elctro component on their programs but we wanted to highlight rock & blues with the emphasis on the rock. We want to hold strong to that moving forward.”
Buckley’s passion for the music he loves comes through as loud and as clear as if he were screaming it through a stadium PA, and part of the reason he wanted to revive Narara in the first place was because he strongly believed that young Aussie bands playing rock and blues-based music weren’t getting enough support from the industry.
“The biggest issue that I see is that the culture of original live music has died,” he explains, getting a touch nostalgic himself. “When I was in my 20’s we’d go to see 3 bands in a night at venues like The Hopetoun, The Landsdowne, The Manly Hotel, Mosman Hotel, The Antler, Gaelic Club etc etc. Most of these shows were free & if you ate anything at the pub it was a hotdog out the front at the end of the night with lashings of mustard & cheese. Now most pubs are ‘multi entertainment’ venues with gastro sections, family sections, gambling sections and if you’re lucky music in the corner and that’s usually cover music.
“The original live music scene has dwindled so badly to a few music venues, whereas every venue in the 80’s & 90’s, well, a huge amount of them supported original live music.” (Pretty sure Sydney’s lockout laws haven’t helped that cause, either).
“Also the rise of EDM has definitely had an impact,” Buckley continues, adding that, as exciting as the rise of technology-driven music has been, there does need to be more of a genre balance when it comes to industry support.
“I think one way to solve this is for triple J in particular to support more genre specific events. We need a shift in the way music & events are supported on radio,” he reckons. “There are so many kids playing guitars, so many people still wanting to express that organic sound of guitar, bass & drums”.
And Buckley has reflected those ideals by intentionally keeping Narara 2017 stripped-back, shunning modern boutique festival trappings like art installations and yoga tents to keep the focus all about the music.
“There will be a fantastic licensed bar & quality food trucks for all kinds of tastes, but there will be no market stalls outside of an official merchandise tent so you can buy the music/merch of the bands you loved over the day & night,” he says.
“We want to capture the essence of the old school festival where music & the love of music created an energy all of its own, so though we’ll create an amazing space in an amazing place it will be a stripped back & raw festival experience… leave your yoga mat at home”.
Narara Music Festival will hit the NSW Central Coast bush for the first time in 33 years on Saturday, 6th May.
And as for all the lineup belly-achers and the “few festival deathriders in the mix wishing us failure”, Buckley has the following message: “Back in ’83 & ’84, most of those bands were young too. Just open up your ears to new music. I know 100% that everyone who comes to Narara will be blown away by the music.”
And it seems like his words have gotten through to at least a few people:
Catch the full lineup, set times and ticketing details for Narara 2017 below.
Narara Music Festival 2017 Lineup
Chase The Sun
Lepers & Crooks
Bones Jones & The Skelebones
Transvaal Diamond Syndicate
Papa Pilko & The Binrats
Narara Music Festival 2017
Tickets on sale now
Saturday, 6th May 2017
Mount Penang Parklands
Tickets: Official Website