THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Caloundra Music Festival
by Cat Strom.
Every spring, the township of Caloundra celebrates the popular Caloundra Music Festival, a non-profit family-friendly event that includes music performances, cultural programs, environmental awareness, and community events.
Held over four days at King’s Beach, the festival started in 2007 and has since become quite refined. Not an inch of this site is wasted with an amazing amount of infrastructure crammed into the space.
Live event specialists QuEvents have the contract to provide all technical production. They do not own any large scale production but find the flexibility of this approach is they can deliver a lot of events and use the supplier and equipment that best suits the gig, rather than feeling they have to use their own gear.
For Caloundra Music Festival QuEvents directly provides stage managers, crew, some small PA, and big screens around site. They then work closely with their preferred suppliers to design and provide the rest. As the event is always held over the October long weekend it is important that there are big screens around the site for the patrons to watch the football finals!
Back in 2007 Quentin Leveridge, Event Manager at QuEvents, was working as an audio operator for one of the PA companies at the initial CMF. Now his company has the contract to supply all technical production and it is the second largest contract for him after Rockhampton’s Beef Festival, which is attended by 110,000 people!
The event is produced by the Sunshine Coast Council and was originally planned to further economic development in the area. The first festival was comprised of two stages; the main stage in the Park’s natural amphitheatre and the other in the park across the road. There was also a small pub stage where Quentin found himself operating.
Fast track to 2018 and there are five stages led by the Soul Stage in the amphitheatre, with its beautiful ocean backdrop, where the big names perform throughout the weekend. The Surf Stage is located within Lion’s Park, the Sun Stage is up the hill in the shady Funky Forest area, the Piano Bar is for patrons preferring a more refined festival experience and finally, the Sand Stage is the newest stage positioned directly on the beach.
This year’s line-up included Daryl Braithwaite, Eskimo Joe, Phil Jamieson, The Screaming Jets, Sneaky Sound System, John Butler Trio, The Waifs, Birds of Tokyo, The Living End, The Temper Trap, Thirsty Merc, and Grammy-award winners Arrested Development.
The main stage in the amphitheatre causes a lot of headaches as it has an awful existing roof structure which is basically just an extension to the front of the toilet block! Every year they spend a lot of money and time building on top of and out from this roof.
“What we end up with is very hard from a lighting perspective as the trim height at the rear of the stage is about 3.4m and by the time you are sitting on a 300-600 riser you are running out of room,” said Quentin.
“It is an expensive exercise and we are looking into just building a regular stage in front and making the existing stage a prep area. It’s a great toilet block but a terrible stage.”
Although the festival is a Council run event there is no leniency when it comes to issuing permits. “The entire festival site is surrounded by temporary and permanent accommodation so noise is perceived as a big issue,” explained Quentin.
“Keeping it below 70dbA at the nearest noise sensitive receptor is very, very hard but my team and I work very closely with the environmental health officers to monitor, record and action any breaches. The local community are very accepting of this event and most apartment balconies are full of people enjoying a free show.”
Quentin commented that they work very hard to keep within the guidelines and as a result have almost no complaints – except for one that comes from the same person each year!
Power is not an issue with KAG Event Electrical providing all the electrical overlay for the event. They also supply the world’s friendliest electricians according to Quentin.
Being a council site there is quite a lot of power available, as the council has been adding three-phase connections all over the site during the past eleven years. Consequently the event utilises minimal generators.
Crowd flow and density is not an issue, partly helped by the fact that punters can get pass outs so they can leave whenever they wish and have no problem on their return. The ERMS Group who provide a Risk & Safety team also sponsor the event.
Each year at least one massive storm rolls through, with the weather going from being very dry to monsoonal in seconds. Experience over 11 years has resulted in everything designed as water tight as you can get it. All marquees and infrastructure use very heavy ballast plus riggers and experienced crew were on call to monitor infrastructure.
“Our risk manager from ERMS feeds through very accurate weather warnings and we
usually have time to whip around the stages to make sure everything is under cover and give all the stage managers a warning so they have time to prepare,” added Quentin.
The only stage that has real issues with wet weather and wind is the Sand stage as it is so exposed. Occasionally the program is paused for really bad weather, however the advance warning allows time to shuffle acts to other stages, tarp up, ride it out, mop up and re-open the stage.
Being council run, the area already features extensive site lighting. QuEvents work with Treeilluminati who provide colour floodlights to uplight trees and this year added masses of festoon lighting for the site perimeter.
It’s an environmentally conscious event that has a total ban on single use plastic water bottles, which can be hard to explain to some of the international touring parties, but it’s an event team that isn’t afraid to do something different.
The festival has an amazing volunteer culture with over 500 hundred volunteers working the event. As they get looked after very well, they keep coming back. “All the touring acts seem happy and all the crew love working on this event – they get to spend a week on the beach so what’s not to love?” concluded Quentin.
From the December 2018 – January 2019 edition of CX Magazine. CX Magazine is Australia and New Zealand’s only publication dedicated to entertainment technology news and issues – available in print and online. Read all editions for free or search our archive www.cxnetwork.com.au
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