Easterfest 2013: All the best bits

Easterfest 2013: All the best bits

Laura Bennett from Nights gives you all the highlights from one of Australia's biggest weekends of music.

By Laura BennettTuesday 2 Apr 2013Hope NightsMusicReading Time: 3 minutes

After making it to Toowoomba with half a map and a bit of local knowledge, I was set for the long weekend of music that lay ahead. 

For many years now Toowomba has played host to one of the biggest Easter events in Australia.

With close to 200 artists, over 1,100 volunteers, and 30,000 punters passing through the gates, Easterfest is deserving of the ‘Major Event’ status the Queensland government granted it late in 2012. 

Last year alone Easterfest pumped 12.5 million dollars into the local economy, giving back to town that really, is overtaken with the program, as acts perform in locals pubs, clubs and cafes, and ‘secret’ New Empire shows don’t remain so secret, filling the sidewalk with hundreds of enthusiastic fans.

International acts including Audio Adrenaline, Relient K, Newworldson, Sanctus Real and Luminate were the big draw-card for ticket holders this year, but there was no denying many came to see the local ones too.

Tigertown transformed the Big Top into an extravagant winter wonderland of pine trees, snowflakes, and their trademark Cherokee Indian flair, inviting close to 2,000 attendees into their mystical world. Bec Laughton brought acrobatics and matchless spunk to the Mainstage, while Sydney up-and-comers Flagfall re-energised the Epicentre audience, and late addition to the line-up ‘Evermore’ confirmed why Aussies have been claiming them as our own since their inception.

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Part of what makes Easterfest unique though, and defines its mission, is its unapologetic focus on the gospel, and the significance of the Easter weekend within that.

Throughout the weekend you could step inside 72-hour worship at the nearby Empire Theatre Church, and each morning begin the day with a campsite church service recognizing Jesus, praying for fellow punters, and the city surrounds.

Alongside this, was a strong presence from various social justice initiatives, with Compassion, Destiny Rescue, and Open Doors (amongst others) all holding their patch of grass.

After finishing your Cambodian ‘walk-through’ experience, turn the next corner and you’re met by the fair-ground sounds of bumper cars and squeals of teens attempting to decide which fluro 65-inch thread of sugary-flavoured licorice they wanted to devour. (I was the twenty-something at the back choosing sour apple).
Across the weekend artists shared their hearts at a number of open media conferences, and imparted their industry wisdom at the Parachute Music Noise workshops, and of course, you couldn’t finish out an Easterfest without a little rain…

Sunday afternoon saw torrential showers cause a slow river to cover much of the campsite with ankle-deep water, transforming walkways into sloshy mud-pits, and the main entrance into a shallow pool of floating flooring grids. Not to have their spirits dampened, punters embraced the chance for free foot exfoliation and toe-jam sharing, making the most of the skid-ready grounds and child-like atmosphere a bit of unexpected wetness brings about.

I found myself heading to the high-ground with Audio Adrenaline front-man Kevin Max (formerly of DC Talk), and like any fan-girl used the opportunity to snag a pic, while also re-iterating how truly white I am, as our attempt at a fist pump ended in a not-so-impressive tap of the knuckles and an awkward smile acknowledging just what a poor expression of ‘bro-ery’ had occurred.

Despite the worrying weather though, the sun did come out just enough for the rain to stop and for the new-look brass-and-bass heavy Newworldson to end the Mainstage festivities with their trademark funk and soul act, (including a spoon playing solo from Leroy).

Closing out the festival “way past everyone’s bedtime” at the smaller Arena stage nearby, Jake Nauta then took us up to midnight finishing with his hit ‘Back in Time’ – no doubt capturing the sentiments of the last remaining die-hards who wished they could do just that, and re-live Easterfest all-over again.

Check out the Hope Nights facebook page for all the pics.