In the context of the summer festival boom, the inaugural Sugar Mountain Festival in early 2011 read as a distinctly creative and curated shot in the arm for what has become a hulking industry model. Founded a bunch of young Melburnians – Tig Huggins, Pete Keen, Brett Louis and Nicci Reid – the event aimed to not only bring together a clutch of disparate, left-of-centre musical acts from Australian and overseas, but illustrate the linkages between music, visual art and other creative pursuits.

The festival’s second incarnation, which kicks off tomorrow (Saturday January 14) at the Forum, looks set to climb to new heights with a host of intriguing musical and artistic talent. Stretching across three stages – The Womb, Mess & Noise and The Summit – the festival line-up features the likes of San Franciscan noise rockers Deerhoof, mind-bending hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces and electronic composer and academic John Maus playing alongside Connecticut lo-fi poppers Tune-Yards, Brooklyn ambient composer and vocalist Julianna Barwick and Japanese artist, vocalist and founder of legendary abstract noise act Boredoms, DJ Yamataka Eye.

It’s not to suggest they’ve forgotten the locals, with the likes of Lost Animal, The Harpoons, production collective This Thing and countless others taking the stage. In a visually rich twist, artists like New Yorker Maya Hayuk and San Franciscan Kyle Ranson (who have collaborated to create a vast installation in the foyer), Kit Webster, Matsuri Yamana and ever-prolific Melburnian Dylan Martorell will reinvent the Forum’s various stages, nooks and interiors with a range painted, projected and installation works. One of our photographers, Ben Simpson, got behind the scenes this week to see it all coming together (gallery above of Ben Barretto, Kyle Ranson, Maya Hayuk, Rhys Mitchell and Raphael Rizzo).

If that wasn’t enough, the program continues after the Forum shuts its doors, with a full week of exhibitions, workshops, film screenings, Q and As and various other side events featuring French filmmaker Vincent Moon, local artist Chaco Kato and plenty of others.

Sugar Mountain Festival plays at the Forum Theatre on Saturday January 14. Door open at 5.30pm.

Limited tickets still available from or 136 100. Tickets are $85 + bf.

For playing times and side event information, visit