Standing amongst the vast array of festival-goers at Broadwater Parklands revealed to me that this was a festival for all demographics, sub-cultures and beyond. To my right stood a man with a blue mohawk as tall as the stage, and behind me a flock of crochet tops and train conductor hats bobbing around in the crowd. Unsurprisingly, the acts that took over the two stages at Shakafest 2018 were no different, as diversity goes.
I arrived just as the sun was setting, and had a perfectly juxtaposing soundtrack to accompany that, considering the first band I had the pleasure of witnessing was VOIID. These fiery girls get better, tighter and louder every time I get to see them. They took the Rabbit Radio stage by storm and blew us away with punk anthems and raging feminine energy. They set the night in motion for me and I was expecting more quality performances to take me through the evening.
Unfortunately, the next bands did not pull through. Frenzal Rhomb were on the main stage, and considering they have appeared on a line ups with Soundgarden at Big Day Out in their better days, I expected more. I’m all for gimmicky punk bands but it’s hard to take the music seriously when the only lyrics in one of their songs were the words “dead bird”. Disappointed by the sound, disorderly performance and the lyrical content (or lackthereof), I made my way back to the Rabbit Radio stage where I was greeted by Frenchy and the Talent. What I did not realise was that this was the musical project of ‘Frenchy’ - the infamous Facebook comedian. Reluctantly, I gave it a chance for half a minute, but instead decided I’d need a couple drinks before enduring either of these bands, so I met halfway and stuck to the bar.
After a few more drinks, I felt like I could finally fit in with the raucous Shakafest crowd. Next up on the Rabbit Stage were Moaning Lisa. Each of the Canberra four-piece projected complementary stage presence of one another and it was refreshing to see each of their unique personalities shining through. They have catchy songs and an infectious love for their individual roles in the band. Similarly, Good Doogs followed and surprised me with their energetic performance and catchy tunes.
The final band I caught for the night was Last Dinosaurs. I was hit with a wave of nostalgia remembering my teenage-angst-filled 15 year old self sitting in my room, blasting ‘Zoom’. Even though the band played an assortment of mostly new tracks, I was still able to relish in the flashback. The band are really tight and have a refined sound that can only be the result of their longevity as a band. Despite this, I’m assuming there was a problem with foldback because lead vocalist Sean Caskey was singing flat throughout the entire verses of one of the tracks. This was the only noticeable fault in their performance. Aside from that, the boys bounced off the energy of the crowd and delivered a solid show.
I caught a few songs from Bliss and Esso but I struggled to get around it despite the energy from the crowd.
Overall, Shakafest had its ups and downs. The differences between the good and the bad was quite drastic but the energy bouncing around Broadwater Parklands was infectious and fun, which made for an enjoyable night.
Words by Anna Leathem