7th January, 2013
Over New Years I was lucky enough to be invited to cover Peats Ridge. As a virgin Peats goer I didn’t really know what to expect but set off with my camera, tent, some clothes and not much else.
The festival is in a valley which forms a gigantic natural amphitheatre which is great until you try to go to sleep and the DJs don’t finish till 2am. This bothered me on the first night, the second night I was so exhausted it did not. Lying in your tent at night the sounds from different stages all seem to soar through the valley like spirits and collide into a ghostly racket.
Day One: Having attended the media briefing and met my colleagues for the next few days I went back to set up my home by a little creak, not a bad spot and seemed kind of quiet. Then shot back to catch the opening ceremony. First up was Tigertown consisting of several siblings, sweet harmonies and photogenic kids. They were pretty cool so I decided to check them out again the next day. My main band today were Crooked Fiddle Band who were performing their yet to be released album in full, there was also body paint and lasers. Not what you would expect from a celtic instrumental act. Next was the Herd, I’m not much of a hip hop fan but Herd were great. “Only 19” and “King is Dead” got the crowd moving and some kid wearing a crown saw his opportunity for glory. The final act on the mainstage were Tijuana Cartel who unleashed their dark unique sounds. After this I roamed around and got some cool shots from the doof stages – Dub and Pirate, no one seemed terribly shy of the camera.
Day Two: after a shit nights sleep I was back into it. Each morning we uploaded our Top 20 pics and charged up for the day ahead. I found it hard to narrow things down to only 20 as there was so much gold to shoot. The previous day I had shot 1,706… Today was a little cooler thankfully. We spent a bit of time shooting in Lyrebird, that is until the stage manager decided to eject me for not wearing a hi vis vest. I gave him a bit of a spray but left gracefully. It wasn’t until later when we found out why the clamp down on security. While shooting 65 Days of Static later in the night some guy was shooting flash in the pit, then asked me how to work his camera as he was doing this “as a favour to his girlfriend”. Seems old mate had managed to crawl onto the mainstage the night before and fire off a few flashes. I shrugged my shoulders and said “your on your own mate”. 65 Days were epic – combining post rock with EDM and a blinding light show. It wasn’t until the last song when the light guy was called to action “Hey light guy, if I was told I could use all the lights. I’d use all the fucking lights”. After this I shook the stars from my eyes and wandered over to Underworld stage for Meniscus. This was a stroke of luck as these guys were awesome as well. More post rock with classic scenes to finish the set.
Day Three: new years eve and wow was it hot. There was no respite from the heat, from the moment you woke up cooking in your tent till you passed out in it the following year. The creek got a good workout but this was a pretty temporary relief. I even passed out in the shade for half an hour. I had saved up the pie shop until the last day and it was worth the wait. The food and drinks in general were fantastic for a festival, plenty of variety and high quality. New Years Eve at Peats is all about the fancy dress – festival goers would spend the day in the regular gear then go get glammed up around 5pm joining the official parade lead by a marching band and dancers. The parade snaked through the venue ending up at mainstage for a massive dance off – Freda v Avatar v Rabbit v Cool Runnings etc. Basically mainstage descended into chaos.
I then wandered to Underworld to relax a bit and caught Royston Vasie. These guys were really cool, they most likely had no idea what was about to happen. As their set drew to a close they invited a mate on stage, trumpet kid saw this as an invitation so he jumped up, same with his mates wearing sheets, then spiderman etc etc. Soon enough the stage was full with jumping gyrating characters. Deciding to go with the flow the band carried on finishing off a highly memorable set. Next I strolled over to La Toosh. La Toosh is a coffee caravan with a stage on its roof by day, by night it gets a little risqué. Tonight was nude disco, I got there a few hours early but things were already very loose! Remembering I had a job to do I made it back to mainstage for John Butler Trio. Security was tighter than a frogs backside and we were only allowed in just before kick off. I am not a massive fan of Butler but they played a good set and the crowd loved him.
So that was job done. I took over 4,000 photos, saw around 30 bands, walked endless kilometres, sweated a lot, ate a lot and had a great time. Peats is a pretty amazing place, the crowd who attend are very different to your usual city festival crowd and everyone is only interested in the music and having a good time. Dickheads are not welcome. You should really go in 2013…
Check out pics of all the action at http://fromthepit.com.au/peats-ridge-festival-2012/
Update: not long after this the festival organisers were declared bankrupt and sadly there has been no more Peats…