Review by Kylie Cobb
As we towed our caravan along a dirt road with no GPS network, following the scattering of inconspicuous ‘Festival This Way –>’ signs, it seemed like Mitchell Creek Rock N Blues Fest might be one of the Sunshine Coast’s best kept secrets. There wasn’t a soul to be seen along our drive from the Bruce Highway (unless you count the strange but charming homemade scarecrows that lined the Kandanga streets), but upon rounding the last corner a whole valley of tents appeared, along with a crowd swelling to 2000 plus. If it ever was, Mitchell Creek Rock N Blues Fest is definitely not a secret anymore; festival goers attend from all over Australia and musicians travel from all over the world to be part of this unique weekend.
The relaxed vibe was obvious from the outset, with festival goers, volunteers, press and musicians mingling together at the entrance, soaking up the atmosphere. There was ample space to park our caravan and no one seemed to really mind where we put it. The set-up of Mitchell Creek is really quite cool, with the music and food set out on the largest flat section of the valley and the campers up on the hills that surround it. It makes for fantastic acoustics and great views. For campers not so keen on having close neighbours it was easy enough just to move further away from the centre; nothing like what we’ve experienced at larger festivals where tents are packed like sardines.
Rock and Blues music seems to attract a certain type of person in general: mad-keen on music, dances like nobody’s watching, and not afraid to chat to strangers. It was a crowd of like-minded people who support good quality, original music. There was not a bikini-clad, flouro-donning teenager in sight at this festival! It is held in the middle of nowhere, away from main roads, nightclubs and (god forbid) phone reception! Although there’s a good mix of people who attend; from trendy 20-somethings to grey nomads and tie-dye wearing hippies, the love of music united all. Unlike other festivals we’ve been to, this one was BYO, which may call to mind images of over-indulging drunkards running rampant, however it seems that handing over the responsibility to patrons pays dividends, with a noticeable absence of rushing ambulances, argy-bargy security guards and barbed-wire fencing.
Don’t get me wrong; all this talk about the ‘chill out man’ vibe gives the wrong impression. Note: Mitchell Creek Rock N Blues Fest is not for the faint hearted! Music starts at 8am in the mornings and runs until midnight, followed by a free-for-all jam session in the bar tent that ran until the birds chirped the next morning. With two stages side by side showcasing one band after the other there is rarely a quiet moment. We look back with bitter-sweet tastes in our mouths on the sounds of Jason Lockhorst and Nathan Kaye making for fantastic alarm clocks.