Gig Reviews

9 Things Mountain Sounds Festival Nailed In Its Second Year

The pressure on a successful music festival in its second year is almost expected. Will it be as good as last year? Will it be better? Will they have introduced anything new? Will it have fixed those niggling problems? Or will it join the long list of events that have failed in the floundering Aussie festival scene?

Thankfully, the Central Coast’s boutique music festival, Mountain Sounds has remained rock-solid under the weight of expectation in its second annual outing. With an impressive lineup, atmospheric location and compact size, it’s clear that the accolades given to MSF in 2014, and the hype surrounding this year’s sold-out event, were not misplaced. Here’s nine things MSF absolutely nailed at this year’s event.

1. No arseholes

Shirtless roidheads and stringlets were nowhere to be seen at MSF, thanks to its unofficial ‘no arseholes’ policy. Following on from last year’s ‘no dickheads’ casual code, the festival was clearly about the music, environment, supporting local business and relaxed, friendly vibes. It was in no way about getting as fucked up as humanly possible.

Co-founder Clayton Parker explained that if there’s no shirt, there’s no entry. “It’s an ethos thing. Big festivals bring in people who aren’t really there for the music; they’re there for the party. You get conflict and you get dickheads – our branding is so far from that.”

2. Think local

Despite a few dropouts and last-minute changes to the lineup, the festival brought an understated but satisfying assortment of Aussie artists to the table, including Northeast Party House, Jungle Giants, Touch Sensitive and The Griswolds.

Frequently played Brisbane boys Odd Mob drew an energetic crowd, then solo producer of The Kite String Tangle (real name Danny Harley) played a few sets later, delighting the swelling crowd with his soft croons, down-tempo beats and accompanying light show.

Two-time ARIA Award winners DZ Deathrays whipped muddy punters into a frenzy with a sweaty, seamless set, while punters pushed, elbowed and tackled one another in the pit below. Despite a few bloodied noses and a handful of bruised egos, fans walked away from the pit reasonable unscathed.

Headliner Alison Wonderland successfully closed out the night with her energetic dance mixes, confetti guns and a few new tracks. As the tiny, Nike-clad DJ hit the decks she screamed, “I’m going to play some new music tonight – this is fucking scary but I’m drunk!”

Although she was admittedly a little nervous, she was undoubtedly a festival favourite — at one point a guy literally couch-surfed on top of a weathered sofa as his mates raised it high above their heads. An energetic, spirited performance cemented Wonderland’s position as one of Australia’s “it” DJs.

3. Location, location, location

Nestled within the tranquil and picturesque gardens of Mount Penang, the festival was peppered with trees and offered lakeside toilets with a view. “The concrete jungle is done”, explained Parker, “Why would we go there when Australia is such a beautiful country?!”

4. Green is good

From the recycled cups to the pre-loved couches, almost everything at the festival was environmentally sustainable, which added to the relaxed charm of the day. A ‘cans for cash’ initiative encouraged punters to pick up and minimise the festival’s carbon footprint. “All the aesthetics you see are all from local Salvos and Vinnies,” Parker noted. “Even the paper in the office is recycled!”

5. In and out

One of the first festivals to introduce Pay Pass facilities, MSF effectively cut lines and waiting time in half. Drink tickets or credit cards could be used at all of the bars, which allowed for easy and smooth purchases.

6. Size matters

The sold-out festival had a little over 4,000 punters through the gates despite the venues 10,000 capacity. Although the event’s organisers have organically expanded the festival, the focus remains on quality and not quantity. Simon from DZ Deathrays complimented MSF and agreed with the organisers objectives. “I like all these little festivals popping up. You get to see people who might not get booked for bigger festivals. Less clashes and a lot more chilled out.”

7. It’s not all about the music

Like many festivals, a collection of alluring art instillations, vibrant lights, hay bales, markets and the aroma of tasty food stalls bridged the gap between stages, but it was MSF’s local focus that set them apart. “Everyone who is involved are our friends, all the local businesses are our friends.” Parker explained. “That’s the biggest thing – we’re all from the Central Coast.”

Free courtesy shuttles to and from Gosford station made getting both in and out a breeze and the addition of camping on Friday and Saturday night ensured out-of-towners had a place to crash.

8. You can get weird (if you want)

The impromptu, highly photographed “Jesus” from last year’s MSF sparked an optional fancy dress theme for this year. With a playful approach to festival dressing, the pressure was lifted off punters as they were encouraged to dress in whatever they deemed fit. Nuns, power rangers and Jamaican bobsled onsies provoked photos and smiles. “Get weird if you want – but it’s not official,” Parker said.

9. It’s just a vibe

No pretentiousness, no arseholes and no bullshit – this year’s MSF vibe was easy, friendly fun.

Gallery: Mountain Sounds 2015

Photos by Jack Cowling

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