If you follow any Australian music news, you’ve probably gathered that it’s not the best time to start a music festival. Pyramid Rock and Homebake are gone, Peats Ridge went into liquidation, Parklife got downsized, the acclaimed Harvest folded, and there are even whispers that the 21 year-strong Big Day Out is on its last legs.
So you could say it seemed a little cocky when a press release for a brand new, three-day summer festival featuring an ambitious line-up of 44 Australian bands landed in our inboxes. Highly affordable and set in the picturesque surrounds of Lake Mountain in Marysville, it sounds a little too good to be true.
Headed by 23 year-old André Hillas, Paradise represents a new generation of festival, unswayed by those faltering around it. After co-organising the successful, not-for-profit Inca Roads festival with Daniel Camilleri in 2011 and 2012 (which is incidentally running on the same weekend as Paradise this year), Hillas has had a couple of years to test the turbulent waters and now he’s ready to take the plunge.
Hardly fazed by regular reports of cancelled festivals each summer, Hillas instead feels that it is an “exciting and liberating” time to start something new. “We sit at a sidestep from the other festivals that are collapsing,” he explains. “Our festival model places importance on high-quality Australian acts as compared to overwhelmingly expensive internationals.”
With acts ranging from Glass Towers, Millions, Naysayer & Gilsun, I’lls, friendships, Client Liaison and Animaux, the use of local talent allows for a larger line-up and a significantly lower cost for punters, with tickets ranging from $98 for the three-day event to only $130 with onsite camping. In comparison, this year’s Splendour in the Grass tickets went at nearly triple - $350 for three days; while Big Day Out costs $185 for only one day. “Investing in our own scene is a point of difference that I feel benefits our festival on the whole,” Hillas says.
Paradise reflects a new trend; instead of trying to dominate the festival market and pack in more people, it’s a move towards going smaller, accommodating niche tastes and providing a high-quality experience.
With only 1000 tickets released, Hillas describes the Paradise experience to be more “intimate” than what you would find at a larger festival, and one that is rounded by a range of other amusements like mountain biking, laser skirmish, a flying fox, bushwalking and even a tube run. Along with a small fleet of food trucks, Hillas has curated five visual artists to produce festival-specific works
Hillas’s vision of paradise is pieced together by other festivals that have inspired him – “the cleanliness and impeccable logistical planning” at Coachella, the community feel and welcoming atmosphere of Bluesfest, and the trusting BYO policy at Meredith.
It sounds like festival Eden – but is it realistic for Hillas to expect it to last when so many others crack under the pressure?
“While we take the same risks as other festivals, I’m not that worried. I have faith in Melbourne’s music scene. It’s a strong and diverse community and the people who are actively involved in it have shown us great support,” he says. “All we are doing is curating a larger version of the small gigs we attend week in, week out.”
We are giving away a double pass to Paradise Music Festival. To win, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your postal address and ‘Paradise’ in the subject line.