Nowadays, the appeal of any music festival depends just as much on the ethos and environment of the event as it does on the actual lineup.
That, and the ability to evolve year by year without compromising any of the elements that enticed people to attend in the first place. Queensland’s Earth Frequency Festival has changed quite a lot over the years, and as it prepares to celebrate its 13th birthday, festival director Paul Abad reflects on the communal spirit that has ensured the four-day event continues to draw folk from all walks of life.
“The festival itself began as a community event,” Abad explains. “It started as a 300-person, one-night landcare event. So I think those community values, and that sense of wanting to do something that went beyond just entertainment, has always been at the forefront. But over the last 12 years that has really developed. We’re sitting somewhere between four and 5,000 people now. But we’ve kept a lot of that ethos up front, really wanting that sense of community, to not be a festival where it’s more commercial and consumerist.
“We want to be a good space of connection, whether that’s some of the external projects we’re getting involved in, or having a strong focus on art and workshops – just giving people good knowledge and tools to walk away with. That’s the kind of festival experience we’re hoping for.”
While there are enough art and workshops to keep people engrossed for the entirety of the festival – from fire shows and spontaneous theatre to spirituality workshops, nature walks and addresses from international keynote speakers – the music bill is a true triumph. The Herd, Beardyman, Triforce, Dakini; the real problem is deciding how you are going to split your time.
“In the early years we were limited by size, so really you’d describe it as more of a doof,” says Abad. “As the event has developed, I’ve always been a big fan of live music, and other genres outside of the normal EDM range. I work for a couple of other festivals around here and was really inspired to try and mix it up a little more, make a more holistic experience. I think that makes it something that more people can connect to from different walks of life. So close to a third of our music now is live bands, or acoustic stuff. We cover everything from hip hop to folk music to reggae and world music. [Plus] there’s a big upsurge of bass music and broken beats that’s really taking off in Australia, so we’re trying to make things really diverse.”
Just a short drive from Brisbane, the setting for Earth Frequency Festival couldn’t be more appropriate. Nestled in the foothills of Flinders Peak and Mount Perry Conservation Park, it’s a festival that looks set to be an early highlight of the year.
“Ivory’s Rock is a really unique spot,” Abad says. “It’s an outdoor concert centre that backs on to some areas of state forest and protected space for the Queensland Trust for Nature. It’s quite beautiful forest, lots of gum trees. It’s got 100 hot showers, 150 flushing toilets, and those are all throughout the camping ground, not just in some VIP spot. The water treatment is done on-site, and irrigation water is the output, so we’re able to pretty much eliminate the need for chemical portaloos. About a third of the campground is powered as well, so we sell that as an add-on option. I guess it’s a meeting of a few creature comforts, but in this really nice outdoor venue. It’s nice and green, there’s usually nice weather. It’s looking good!”
[Earth Frequency Festival photo (main) by Boaz, (above) by Liam Hardy]
Earth Frequency Festival 2017, with Beardyman, The Herd, Ace Ventura, Opiuo and many more, happens Friday February 17 – Monday February 20, at Ivory’s Rock, Queensland.