Why We Love Queenscliff, 2013 Edition


If Queenscliff Music Festival was a footballer, it would be someone like Scott West. The former Bulldog was a star, albeit an underrated one. But what set West apart was his consistency and his no nonsense approach to the game. In a similar vein, Queenscliff is the ultimate no frills festival. It is well run, impeccably positioned and a has knack of nailing a universally appealing lineup. This year, its 17th crack, was again a showcase of these very qualities that have turned QMF into one of the premier events on the Victorian festival calendar.

There is a beautiful simplicity to Queenscliff, both the festival and the town itself. Traffic is only a problem when leaving the Melbourne smog, parking is only an issue if you need to be with 15 feet of the festival gate, and a cold beer is only a challenge if you piss off the hard working ladies of The Espy. While a short music day, it often feels like the longest stretch of the festival, an early arrival presenting you with the chance to explore the township and its people, enjoy a deliciously clichéd walk along the beach, or simply sit in the pub with a delicately hidden beer.

The music starts before the sun stops, giving the illusion of summer despite the lack of warmth. It is an illusion that is easy to embrace, as many do. As we did. Vigilance is a must, because it is easy to get sucked into the golden (black) holes of the beer gardens and cafes. Before you know it, it’s 8pm and you’ve missed Chance Waters. But it doesn’t matter, because time moves at Oliver Tank pace here, slowly and carefully. And thus, the weekend has begun.


1) THE LIVING END. Ageless is a word that can be used a lot at QMF. Chris Cheney and co are, almost surprisingly, perfectly suited to that description. It’s hard to believe that Prisoner Of Society came out in my early high school years. On this night, they are as powerful as ever, ripping through the entire back catalogue and delivering a greatest hits set worthy of the headline spot.

2) A FULLY LICENSED QMF. Sure, we don’t need alcohol to have a good time. But it certainly helps our dancing. This year, there were no more overcrowded 18+ drinking spots. The bars were open, and you could drink your beer and see the stage at the same time. And the festival had never felt freer.

3) THE SCREAMING JETS. See Living End above. Awesome.

4) BLUE KING BROWN. Natalie Pa‘apa’a is a force of nature. Outspoken, political, and a brilliant frontwoman. And she has sick hair. The band are brilliant and the message is clear. And they make you dance like a moron.

5) CALAMARI. Whoever came up with the idea of an enormous cone of deep fried squid is a certified genius. From the bottom of my increasingly hefty stomach, thank you.

6) SASKWATCH/ THE MELBOURNE SKA ORCHESTRA. A tie for the funnest sets of the weekend. Horns, more horns, highly skilled rhythm sections, and then more horns. Nicky Bomba and his Ska Orchestra barely fit on the stage, and get thousands of grownups losing their shit to the Inspector Gadget theme. Saskwatch are one of the most exciting bands in Australia right now, and their set delivers in much the same way.

7) SPIDERBAIT. Welcome back, Kram, Janet and Whitt. And not a moment too soon. Again, see The Living End above. On Saturday night, Finley’s finest (sorry Crawf) played with the glee and abandon of early 90s Spiderbait, and Queenscliff responded like an early 90s rock kid. And it was awesome.

8) THE GUY I MET WHILST…Another Queenscliff staple. Meeting people. Weird and wonderful, or delightfully boring, you’ll find one of every kind. And we did. This year’s honours go to;

The dude I asked for a light and still had me bailed up 45 minutes later, where we moved between his grandkids and Patience from The Grates.

The dude in a dress, who we first spotted on Sunday morning dancing with a fence, and whom we later met on Sunday evening, and was surprisingly coherent and quite the storyteller.

The dude who kept congratulating everyone on their attractiveness.

The kid with the red ukulele. Legend.

9) ALL OF SUNDAY. So good. San Cisco did what they needed to do please their growing legion of Cisconians, and The Grates returned to form, led by the irrepressible Patience Hodgson. The after party is something everyone should experience.  But, Sunday belonged to Miss Dallas Frasca and her men. The Pelican Bar, and Sundays in general to be honest, had never seen anything quite like this. A one woman, two man wrecking ball (without the Miley licking), that featured chair kicking, power chords, swearing, head banging, audience ‘encouragement’, and just excellent rock music of the highest order. One of the sets of the festival.

10) EVERYTHING. QMF has truly become a festival without an obvious weakness. The one festival that is effortlessly everything to everyone. The only thing it really needs to work on is the fact it has to end. And real life returns.


The whole weekend plays out with an inevitability that is anything but tedious. Such is its consistency, you know exactly what you are going to get from Queenscliff, and that is in no way a bad thing. And once it has finished, you know for sure that it is only 52 weeks until you can be together again.