Just passed the Gosford exit off the freeway there is a gateway to the Central Coast, the picturesque and expansive Mount Penang Gardens. Therein lays Mountain Sounds, a “new boutique and sustainable event” with live art, a gozleme tent, and a blissful vibe. Hay bails, couches scattered through out the grass and a ridiculous amount of immaculate blonde hair and beards made it feel like a spontaneous and intimate backyard party at your uncles’ farm.
Mountain Sounds had all the hallmarks of a successful and promising boutique festival; a diverse, well-curated line up, near-immaculate stage production with minimal to no set change over times, a focus on locally sourced talent and vendors, and a young crowd of 10’s that could have been pulled straight from the set of a Blue Crush meets Lords of Dogtown remake.
Uplifting indie set a distinctively chill tone for the day with Jinja Safari, who partially hail from the Central Coast, drawing in a huge crowd with their signature blissful, dreamy blend of indie pop and vivacious percussion. Also doing the Central Coast proud was Elliott the Bull and their expansive folk sounds (watch the amazing video for Colourblind ">here), 5 piece rock outfit The Lazys, and Tropical Zombies, in none other than Hawaiian shirts.
Presumably an unintentional by-product, Mountain Sounds highlighted the polarity between bands and electronic producers in Australian music. The event showcased local Central Coast and Sydney bands across a wide spectrum of live band sub-genres, including indie-pop, garage, reggae and surf punk. While although fun and crowd-pleasing, DJ sets of the day could have been mistaken for a “remix this Flume song” session at Ableton Live School, emphasising the gentrification of Australian EDM.
Nearly every electronic set bar Club Mod was a who’s-who of flume and Hermitude remixes, samples and take offs, a trend which has lead to the market being saturated with soft, shiny flume-style reproductions which lack substance. A sentiment which was summed up perfectly in a recent interview with Wordlife, who set the bar high for the day with their live set at the Moon Stage.
Unbeknownst to those who watched Snakadaktal, many in awe of the alluring and graceful front woman Pheobe Cockburn, they were witnessing what would be Snakadaktal’s second last show, with the band announcing their break up 2 days later.
Modular sub-label Club Mod cultivated their own unique atmosphere at the Club Mod stage, sectioned off from the rest of the grounds with its own waterfall (sprinkler) and cave (shipping containers filled with couches and adorned with trippy wall hangers). Parkside, Slowblow, and Softwar played from inside a retro Kombi van turned party bus with blacked out windows and Jesus dancing on a haybail. Canyons set was a definite highlight, playing a smooth mixture of disco, funk, minimal tech, deep house and even a bit of swing house, to a small but dedicated crowd.
A day spent blissing out in the sun was brought to an end with an absolutely bang(gang)ing set by Beni, the end of which clashed with Sticky Fingers sound checking over the top and making their displeasure about it very apparent.
As the live music scene has seen a paradigm shift over the last few years, moving away from the larger, vaguer and more mainstream, with big scale productions like Big Day Out and Soundwave floundering (presumably under the weight of AJ Maddahs ego) to more experiential based events there has been an increased awareness and growing culture of boutique festivals. As its inaugural event Mountain Sounds cultivated a unique and promising atmosphere, has set itself as one to watch grow and evolve.
Photos by Ari Pashalis