Four pens and a rotating stage!? The future of live music festivals in the COVID world may be on show this Saturday when the ground-breaking Good Day Sunshine Festival takes place in WA’s South-West, headlined by John Butler and Xavier Rudd.
As we learn to live with coronavirus, new initiatives are emerging. Promoters Macro Music have initiated the world-first COVID-safe format, whereby the Good Day Sunshine crowd will be split into four separate areas (which act as their own events) with a capacity of 1,250 pax per pen, while in the middle will be a revolving stage, aptly called The Turntable Stage, where the acts will perform.
While WA is in a strong position in controlling COVID-19, the unique measures all act as ways to mitigate the risk of any virus spread and Macro Music CEO Ross Macpherson hopes it may offer an example on how these events could be held safely in the modern day world elsewhere in Australia and across the world.
“I would be flattered if this format was to be used by other events in Australia and across the world,” Macpherson said.
“The sooner we can get large scale live events back up and running, the better for everyone. I am excited to see what innovation comes from this pandemic; it is a great opportunity for some creative thinking from the live music community.”
The festival, which will happen on Saturday 31 October at Barnard Park in Busselton about 50km north of well-known tourist spot Margaret River, includes a great line-up of Australian acts alongside Butler and Rudd, including Eskimo Joe, Vikki Thorn (from The Waifs), Noah Dillon, Dulcie and Moon & Honey.
WA-based Eskimo Joe frontman Kav Temperley said: “It’s definitely exciting, we were lucky enough to have a new song in our back pocket when the world shut down and the playing of live shows stopped.
“So, Good Day Sunshine and our gig the following weekend at The River in Margaret River will be the first time that we will get to play our new single ‘Say Something’ in front of a live audience, and we’re all very excited.”
Temperley added that he was very interested to see first hand how the world-first revolving stage format worked.
“I’m just worried that I’ll get sea sick or someone will accidentally bump the controls and the rotating stage will start spinning out of control at top speed,” Temperley joked.
“But in all seriousness I’m really interested to see how the whole thing runs – pandemics aside, the set-up has huge potential for all ages shows etc.
“If it works, the potential to have four different areas that could be broken down into all ages, boys, girls drinking etc is really interesting. The main test will be, is it an enjoyable experience for punters and performers?”
Perth’s four-piece indie pop girl band Dulcie have the 3pm slot, meaning they’ll be one of the first acts to get a taste of how The Turntable Stage works.
Dulcie drummer Madi Hanley admitted there was some apprehension about how to retain the audience’s engagement with the stage set-up but more than anything they were excited to play live at a festival again.
“It will be a really unique experience no matter how it all pans out,” Hanley said. “We’re a little nervous about how to make sure everyone feels engaged.
“At the end of the day the most significant thing is how lucky to everyone is to be at a festival in the world right now, we’re pumped!”
She added: “Hopefully if everything goes smoothly this could be the first step to rebuilding live music events which is a very exciting concept for us all.”
The four separate crowd pens have been named after famous surf spots in the region; Cobblestones, Windmills, The Point and Injidup. Each area has its own entry, exit and amenities, which should result in shorter queues for bars, food outlets and toilets.
Despite the stage essentially being a rotating turntable, Macro Music is confident the static sound system will mean consistent, perfect sound quality across the whole event site.
Macpherson added: “We are excited to roll out this format for Good Day Sunshine. It will be great to have music events of a larger capacity rolling in Australia again.
“We have been working with the local council, police, health and various other stakeholders to ensure the format complies with the current COVID guidelines for WA. All have been incredibly supportive of our ideas.”
Eskimo Joe will also play at Margaret River’s The River Hotel on Friday 6 November. Tickets are available HERE.
Dulcie will support Katy Steele at the Quarry Amphitheatre in Perth on Thursday & Friday 3-4 December. Tickets are available HERE.
Headline Photo: Bo Wong