Every year Brisbane Festival seems to somehow lift their game with a increasingly more innovative curated list of shows and experiences. The 2018 program has seen an incredible selection of traditional and pop-up venues that have entertained theatre, art and music lovers alike. One of the most anticipated events each year is the family favourite SunSuper Riverfire which sees the skies along the Brisbane River exploding with colourful fireworks and over taken by acrobatic displays from the Australian Defence Force.
This year the festival have intertwined the Sunsuper Riverfire with the inaugural Brisbane Festival Closing Party hosted at one of the best Firework vantage points, The Riverstage. With gates opening at 2pm, the early birds ran in to get a good spot in the mosh whilst others opted to take comfort on the grassy hill. With the soulful sounds of Adelaide singer-songwriter Mane kicking off the chilled Saturday afternoon vibes she perfectly set the relaxing mood. Unreleased track ‘Break My Fall’ opened her brief set before going into her catchy new single ‘Save Yourself’ which will be released later this week. She apologised to the crowd about her lack of voice as she croaked through her in-between song banter but the crowd were not fazed because you couldn’t even tell when she was singing. Her raspy vocal delivery hid all signs of her illness until she spoke and everyone was impressed with how well she powered on. With no signs of her single moody ‘What If The love Dies’ she closed her set with ‘Chasing Butterflies” before apologising yet again.
Amping it up a notch, local favourites WAAX bursted onto the stage with their high octane punk-rock. As they rioted through their opening track ‘This Everything’, their energetic and supportive fans ran down the hill repping their merch and quickly filled up the standing room floor. Enthusiastically jumping up and down during ‘I For An Eye’, ‘Nothing As Always’ and ‘You Wouldn’t Believe’, the band quickly got acquainted with the hyped crowd. Announcing that they have been putting the finishing touches on their debut album, they asked if it would be okay if they played a couple of new tracks. Obviously the crowd ecstatically obliged as they became some of the first people to hear the new material. ‘My Dear’, ‘Fuck You’ and ’No Apology’ showed a massive growth in songwriting and production with catchy hooks that are going to continue to explode their live shows. These are easily some of the strongest songs they have ever written and will hear them quickly becoming future Triple J favourites. Returning to the crowd favourites they pumped out ‘Holy Sick’, ‘Wild & Weak’ and ‘Same Same’ before closing their set with ‘Labrador’ that aesthetically linked to their backdrop “I’ve been Disappointed Lately”. Lead singer Maz had the crowd captivated the whole time and along with the bands tight delivery they made this set one of the pure highlights of the event.
Next up were your mates from Perth, Methyl Ethel. This indie-rock four piece are no strangers to festival line ups and with the venue filling up out of nowhere as they took to the stage they delivered a good mix of chilled out vibes and singalong moments. Early favourites ‘L’Heure Des Sorcieries’, ‘Groundswell’ and ‘NO.28’ had the crowd singing along and sitting on top of each others shoulders. They were also celebrating the release of their new single ‘Scream Whole’ which their fans already knew all the words to. They bounced between tracks from their two records with big songs like ‘UBU’ and ‘Twilight Driving’ thrown in the mix. They have this chilled out stoner-rock vibe which had the crowd on the hill zoning out and enjoying the sunset that collided with their set. With not much stage banter in between songs, they just powered through track after track and packed as much material as they could into their set which their fans loved.
One of the most surprising and somewhat strange additions to the line up was Meg Mac. The Triple J favourite brought a soulful pop vibe to the line-up compared to the majorly rock influenced acts. With a younger fanbase filling up the general admission floor she swept through early favourites ‘Turning’, ’Grace Gold’ and ‘Known Better’. Rocking her signature black and white suit she commanded the stage with her impressive and soothing vocals. Continuing with ‘Every Lie’
‘Grandmas Hands’, ’Didn’t Wanna Get So Low But I Had To’ and ‘Maybe It’s My First Time’ she had everyone singing along euphorically. Announcing to the packed crowd that this may be the last time she plays her Like A Version cover of Tame Impala’s ‘Let It Happen’ live they swayed along in awe with her. She has spent the last year out of the spotlight working on her forthcoming sophomore studio album and whilst the material isn’t ready to be heard yet she did play an unreleased song from her ‘Low Blows’ sessions. ‘Never Be’ was a cool little moment before Low Blows’ and ‘Ride It’ kicked it back up a notch with the anthemic ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves’ closing the set.
Taking a moment away from the live music, the SunSuper Riverfire lit up the skies with colourful fireworks choreographed to the soundtrack of some of your favourite TV show and superhero theme songs. The 20 minute display was a romantic montage as people laid on the grass with their loved ones and looked to the skies. It was in those few moments that everyone just sat still in awe and truly appreciated the sky. As the last firework took to the sky and the broadcast finished the Violent Soho backdrop was revealed on the stage and the crowd began to surge to the mosh. Running onto the stage and screaming “BRISBANE!” they launched straight into ‘In The Aisle’ and ‘Low Brow’. The rest of their set saw them bouncing between tracks from their three studio albums. They were an interesting choice as a headliner as they do have a very niche sound but their passionate fanbase loved every moment. The band even threw in a sneaky cover of Powderfinger’s ‘These Days’ which Bernard Fanning surprisingly joined them onstage for.
As the crowd cleared out of The Riverstage, it was officially the end of another successful and innovative Brisbane Festival. And with such a wide range of acts, talent and experiences on display you can’t help but question how they are going to top it next year.
Check out the full gallery captured by The Raveyard Photography HERE;
Photos by Blake Lewis