SHE SAID YES: Brett Purcell proposed to Kartini Bell during Michael Franti and Spearhead's performance on Saturday at Bluesfest 2018.
SHE SAID YES: Brett Purcell proposed to Kartini Bell during Michael Franti and Spearhead's performance on Saturday at Bluesfest 2018. Marc Stapelberg

Bluesfest 2018: the good, the bad and the ugly

THE gumboots have been put away, and  that familiar ringing in the ears after five days of good music pile up in our brains and join the mash up of memories that we call Bluesfest.

It was the 29th anniversary, and although it is hard to imagine who will be in next year's line up, the 30th festival, we already known that Ben Harper wants to come and play, and we would also love to see Con Brio, Narasirato, Alabama Shakes and St Paul and the Broken Bones back please.

This is a list of the wonderful, quirky, delicious and plain weird things we heard, saw, ate and more at Bluesfest 2018.

  • Drunken nachos: Apologies for starting with food, but it's after midnight and I'm starving. The dish has served on a base of sweet potato chips, and included kangaroo, mushrooms an eggplant, fresh chilli, shallots, coriander and finger lime aioli. Yum.

 

DELICATESSEN: Drunken Nachos with sweet potato chips, kangaroo, eggplant and mushrooms from Gourmet Goons at Bluesfest 2018.
DELICATESSEN: Drunken Nachos with sweet potato chips, kangaroo, eggplant and mushrooms from Gourmet Goons at Bluesfest 2018. Javier Encalada
  • Dry festival: It started on day 3 and it just got worse. The most popular drinks: namely cider and vodka mixes, were hard to find at different bars. At some point the biggest bars only offered beer and soft drinks.

 

Ziggy ALberts performs on the Mojo Tent at Bluesfest 2018 in Byron Bay near Tyagarah.
Ziggy ALberts performs on the Mojo Tent at Bluesfest 2018 in Byron Bay near Tyagarah. Marc Stapelberg
  • Biggest OMG moment of the festival: The couple that got engaged during Michael Franti's first performance. She kind of had to say yes, but she looked really happy to be asked in front of thousands of people. We wish them the best and we look forward to be invited to the wedding, with all 3000 people who witnessed the proposal.
  • Fire ants: It was only on Thursday, while it was raining, but a bunch of ants started to fly over some punters and falling into shirts, pants and hats. The bites were very painful.
  • Murray Wiggle: Move over Chris Hemsworth, Murray Wiggle is here! We walked into the VIP section behind Murray Cook, the former red Wiggle, who was wearing a bright yellow shirt. We saw three women loose their cool and scream "Murray Wiggle is here!". This was after getting asked for a selfie by nobody else but Country superstar Kasey Chambers. Maybe The Wiggles need to be in next year's line up...
  • To Momoa or not to Momoa: The rumour  in the media centre was that actor Jason Momoa was at the festival again this year, but we did not see him, and let's face it, Jason Momoa is hard to miss, specially is he's having fun backstage at Bluesfest. We checked Instagram and there was nothing there, and if it is not on Instagram (yet), chances are it didn't happen (yet).
  • Lauryn Hill-gate: We get it, divas start their show late. OK. But to send a DJ to fill up for her for 40 minutes, and then start the gig saying "hello Brisbane" is just not cricket. Ms Hill, thank you for coming, but the show was, to say the least, average.

 

 

Ms Lauryn Hill performs at the Mojo Tent at Bluesfest 2018 in Tyagarah in Byron Bay.
Ms Lauryn Hill performs at the Mojo Tent at Bluesfest 2018 in Tyagarah in Byron Bay. Marc Stapelberg

 

  • CD?: The funniest sight of the festival was seeing Millenials totally confused outside the festival's CD shop trying to figure out what a CD was. Vinyl or digital only for the hipsters.

 

 

Walter Trout performs on the Jambalaya Stage at Bluesfest 2018 in Tyagarah near Byron Bay.
Walter Trout performs on the Jambalaya Stage at Bluesfest 2018 in Tyagarah near Byron Bay. Marc Stapelberg
  • Kudos: An while we are talking Millenials, I walked behind a group of six twenty-somethings on the way to the car after Day 4 of the festival. The group was there to see Tash Sultana's second show (of course) but also John Butler Trio, and they commented on Morcheeba, First Aid Kit and Michael Franti. One of them said "I came here with no expectations and I loved it, I'm coming back next year!"

 

Year 9 band Frequency from Kadina High School performed at Bluesfest today.
Year 9 band Frequency from Kadina High School performed at Bluesfest today. Liana Turner
  • First row-gate: Time to talk about the elephant in the room (or the tent?): the controversial $300 first row seats. It make sense that mega fans would be willing to pay such amount to be really close to the stage, but punters that had already bought tickets to the festival felt hurt and betrayed. Rational reaction? No. But people are not always rational, are they? The fact that seats were empty for most of the day added salt to injury, but festival director Peter Noble said the seats sold out. I'm not a fan. I'd prefer a VIP ticket that includes parking that gets me out of there with no risk of getting stuck in traffic. Or a helicopter taxi, whichever is cheaper.

 

The front row seats at the Crossroads tent on Day 2 of Bluesfest.
The front row seats at the Crossroads tent on Day 2 of Bluesfest. Javier Encalada
  • Gig of the festival: Chic and Nile Rodgers - impossible for any other act to compete with such rosary of Disco and funky hits.

 

Punters at Bluesfest 2018 in Tyagarahin Byron Bay.
Punters at Bluesfest 2018 in Tyagarahin Byron Bay. Marc Stapelberg
  • Gig of the festival - runner up: Michael Franti, who offers a show so positive, so loving, so human it is a spiritual experience that only compares with a three-minute Mullumbimby hug or a chakra re-aligment in Ocean Shores. I had a smile on my face for the rest of the evening.

 

Michael Franti and Spearhead perform at the Mojo Tent on Saturday at Bluesfest 2018 in Tyagarah near Byron Bay.
Michael Franti and Spearhead perform at the Mojo Tent on Saturday at Bluesfest 2018 in Tyagarah near Byron Bay. Marc Stapelberg
  • #StopAdani t-shirts: Everyone that was anyone was wearing a #stopadani t-shirt at the festival. Move over glitter, social movement is the new black.

 

Mia Dyson performs at the Crossroads Stage at Bluesfest 2018 in Tyagarah near Byron Bay on Day 4.
Mia Dyson performs at the Crossroads Stage at Bluesfest 2018 in Tyagarah near Byron Bay on Day 4. Marc Stapelberg
  • Faux pas of the festival: The guy who asked if organic doughnuts were gluten free. The eye roll was visible from the International Space Station.

 

CRUNCHY: Organic Doughnuts offered this year their new Russian caramel doughnuts at Bluesfest 2018.
CRUNCHY: Organic Doughnuts offered this year their new Russian caramel doughnuts at Bluesfest 2018. Javier Encalada
  • Boomerang: The mini-festival is such an interesting and valuable offer within Bluesfest, it would almost be a shame to make it its own stand-alone festival. So here is an idea...

 

Boomerang performances at the start of Day 4 at Bluesfest 2018 in Tyagarah near Byron Bay.
Boomerang performances at the start of Day 4 at Bluesfest 2018 in Tyagarah near Byron Bay. Marc Stapelberg
  • How about?: Bluesfest is a marathon, and many do not make it even half way. It's way too long. How about four days, with the first day showcasing local artists (remember the local's day of yesteryear?) and Boomerang, and the other three days the full Boomerang experience with an extra stage. Who is with me?

Until next year Bluesfest, let's make the 30th festival as good as this one. Thanks for the music.



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