It has been one hell of a weekend.
I spent it out at Corinbank. A music festival unlike any other.
Not only was I an avid punter keen to see You Am I, Urthboy and Clare Bowditch, I was also a ‘Corinteer’. I put my name down to volunteer at the event late last year assuming that I would have little chance of actually doing it. Not only did I get a chance to volunteer, I was assigned to the Rangers & Communication team which involves roaming the site, checking everything is churning along okr and generally being the eyes and ears on the ground for the organisers and comms team.
Disappointingly I have not been to that many festivals, and never a multi-day camp-out festival. Splendour, Falls, Woodford.. I haven’t been to any of them. I realise that is a major failing on my part. So with the chance to go to a 3 day festival in my own backyard, how could I not go?
I pitched my tent on Friday and we were shown around the site by the managing director of the festival. With very few people around I was finding it hard to imagine what it’d be like with thousands of people arriving over the next day or so. There are 2 main stages at either end of the large Corin Forest site with a snake like trail of creative campsites, stalls, workshops and small stages along the way.
Creative campsites is an initiative to let the public contribute their own ideas to the festival. People could create their own little site or stall in exchange for discounted tickets. There was an advice tent, a hacky sack site, artistic stalls, a letter writing area (I haven’t heard a typewriter in years!), twister, solar powered ovens and shitloads more. This area was pumping during the days on Saturday and Sunday. Always something going on.
At the far end of the snake lies the Gibraltar Grove stage. Nestled in amongst the forest is a wooden stage that almost feels like it grew there. This stage is where I would go on to discover such musical gems as Alice Cottee, Anarchist Duck, Space Party and the Ellis Collective. The natural ampitheatre surrounded by giant gums was the perfect backdrop to beautiful music.
I was also informed that the angle of the stage is perfectly aligned with the Mt. Ainslie to Parliament House axis. Google Maps seems to back this up:
The main action of the weekend occurs down at the main ‘Billy Billy’ stage. Food, clothing, art, ‘happy herb’ and massage stalls dot the area. This whole area is shadowed by spectacularly angled gum trees. You can’t look anywhere over the weekend without seeing nature which is what makes this festival feel so special.
The festival is very focussed on the creed of ‘leave no waste’. To support this there are bins located everywhere with the standard recycling and general waste bins but also with compost bins into which all plates, cutlery and even plastic bio-degradable beer cups can be tossed. The message obviously works as I saw barely any trash on the ground throughout the weekend. People are obviously conscious of the fact that they are responsible for their own waste. It’s great to see.
During a couple of my shifts I worked with the ‘Rat Patrol’ who are in charge of waste for the festival. Filled bins are swapped with empty ones and dumped into 1 of 2 skip bins, or a compost pile. Proof of the compost option are evident with a compost garden grown from the previous years pile. I hope my home compost will actually become useful one of these days.
This team does an amazing job at keeping the site clean. No overflowing bins at all and with the sheer number of bins this is not an easy feat. I am hugely impressed with the effort these guys put in. I did a 3 hr shift on the Rat Patrol and I was absolutely buggered. Some sort of wheelie-bin-towing-bike will definitely have to be invented!
At the core of this festival is a team of passionate people that invest a massive amount of time, effort, sweat and love into making it happen. I was glad to be able to contribute a tiny amount of my time to helping it happen this year, but these guys live and breathe the festival for most of the year. The positive vibe and smiling faces of people are the payback for all the hard work. More than one artist commented on the positivity of the crowd and Tim Rogers (of You Am I) made mention that usually he deals with objects being thrown at him as well as aggro’d up bone-heads in the crowd rather than smiling faces.
Overall the pace of the weekend is languid at best, possibly contributed by the distinct smell in the air. I think the fastest I saw anyone move was when a short sharp thunder storm hit during Clare Bowditch’s set. Whilst hundreds huddled under the beer tent, dozens more danced away in the rain. Bowditch made a comment that watching people dancing in the rain like that will stay in her memory for a long time.
Her set was fanastic. She showed off a new single from the upcoming album, and pulled out some oldies which had the crowd singing along.
You Am I seemed to play a fairly diverse set. Whilst they inevitably rolled out the obvious favourites ‘Rumble’, ‘Berlin Chair’ and ‘Cathy’s Clown’, they played a bunch of tracks that I don’t think the crowd recognised including a few off their 2008 album that received very little airplay.
The musical highlight of the weekend for me was Urthboy’s performance on the Saturday night. Being a long time ‘Herd’ fan I was keen to see both Urthboy and Ozi Batla (Astronomy Class) doing their things separately. As a bonus we got Hermitude on the decks as well, often jumping on stage with Urthboy and Jane Tyrrell. Man, did they look like they were having fun. He was just non-stop for the whole hour and belted out his hits and heaps of other top stuff from his 3 albums. I was front row for the set and looking back, I could see how pumped the crowd were. Urthboy obviously noticed as well as he jumped (well, stepped off the stage and walked) into the crowd for the last song. The vibe was awesome!
Whilst the music was a major reason people were there, I think it’s the festival as a whole that pulls people out to the bush for a few days. There’s a definite community feel to the place. You see familiar faces all weekend and by the Sunday night you feel like everyone’s your friend.
For me personally I went to the festival by myself and only knew about 3 or 4 other people going. I pitched a tent by myself. I usually ate by myself and I generally walked around by myself, but everytime I sat down at a performance or a table to eat I managed to strike up a convo with someone and got to hear some great stories and chat about the festival.
Being a ‘Corinteer’ I met some really great fellow volunteers as well as getting to hang with some of the organisers on the Sunday night. For me this was a huge highlight as I got to see some of what makes a festival like this tick and to share in the passion of creating something that thousands of people enjoy.
I think it’s awesome that someone could sit down and go, “I’m going to start a festival”. You’ve gotta have guts and a buttload of talent and help to pull it off successfully. Dan and his team have pulled off 3 years of Corinbank and it doesn’t look like stopping in a hurry. This make me damn happy cause it means I’ll get to do it all again next year!