Earth Frequency Festival: On the Leading Edge

It feels like only yesterday that I was writing an article for Earth Frequency Festival’s 10th anniversary.  Fast forward five years and I now have the great pleasure and honour introducing you to this festival in its 15th year.

From humble beginnings as a one-night land care doof of about 300 people, to a 5,000 attending, fantastical, four-night immersion into wonderland. After 15 years of nourishment and growth, this event is infamous Australia wide (and internationally for that matter). Big enough to host all the bells and whistles of the outdoor festival extravaganza and small enough to be intimate, deeply connected, and dripping in ecstatic creation,

Credit: Jwah Photography

As always, I am blown away by the purpose and energy that is in this event and as times change and evolve, the organisers flow with that, adapt and continue to create this event with clarity, intention, grace and so much love.

In the past five years, this festival has shown all of us a huge amount of integrity as organisers navigated heightened scrutiny, intense compliance and regulations and financial upheavals.  EFF’s chief guide, Paul Abad said that it feels like this anniversary is the end and beginning of a new chapter.

“It’s a chapter that’s ending really well. The transition to a more sustainable, transformational and family friendly festival hasn’t been easy all the way, but looking back I think the right moves were made and the festival has been doing well and carving out its own unique place in the Australian outdoor festival ecology,” said Paul.

“And looking forward, it’s also now a time to set our sights on what the next five years could and should look like and what value gatherings like Earth Frequency Festival can have in today’s world,” he said.

Credit: Jwah Photography

Which is a great segue for me to speak to the title of this article.  This year again, EFF is leading the way forward on the evolutionary path for festivals.  This means tapping into deep universal truths and divine problem solving. Frankly, it means keeping things real and always being tuned into the magic.

“We have an increasing focus on some interesting and relevant social and political issues. I think that’s going to be more of a focus in the coming years – we’ll always have things like yoga, movement, sound journeys and ecstatic dance in the village, but developing a more serious focus on topics like harm minimisation, civil rights, climate change, urban permaculture etc,” said Paul.

“At the moment I’m giving a lot of thought to the core mission and usefulness of the festival, the conditions and locations and what the future looks like.  While it might feel like festivals and fun are a bit indulgent when the world is sliding in to climate change and ecological crisis, we all still need to come together as a community and set an example of how life can be, and increasingly, I think community festivals with a sustainability and earth focus should be stepping up and trying to do more to turn positive intentions in to positive change, fundraising, political and environment awareness and influencing our collective mindset about the challenges in front of us,” he said.

Blown away with this attitude I’m sure?  But what about the less serious (and equally important) stuff you say? Yes, balance we must have! Well, strap on your dancing boots people, because this year at EFF Paul is confident that “it’s our biggest and best music line-up to date”.  A big claim from a man who has been hosting a stellar line-up for years!  And like most of this article, Paul can say it so much better than I.

Credit: Benjamin Weser

“I’m super excited to check out Thomas Schumacher as he is a legend of the techno scene and we have never hosted him before.  But Talpa and Koan Sound are also high on my list as favourite acts that have really carved out their niche in the scene and are at the top of their game!

As for newcomers, Somatoast is a really great psychedelic bass producer from the USA – he’s been picked for the very exclusive ‘Tipper and Friends’ party which definitely says something about his production standards and vibe.  And although Mood Swing and Chevy Bass are well established crowd favourites, they’ll be debuting their expanded band show and that’s definitely going to be a lot of fun.”

As for the other festivities to experience, it is recommended that you immerse yourself completely. This year at EFF as always, the creativity will be rife – including a new interactive game (which I am definitely playing!).  Drop in for a couple of workshops, visit the gallery, search out other bits of magic and synchronicity that pop up. Paul says “You are the festival!”  Oh and definitely get a bit of sleep each night before your tent warms up, you’ll be way more fresh and vibing the next day.

Credit: Ticky Photography

Now the segue is nowhere near as graceful here, but it’s so necessary to slide into another really important topic that Paul and his team are absolutely nailing in regards to EFF in the past year and moving forward.  It is how they have handled the government and police pressure that has infiltrated the wider outdoor music festival community in the last year that we have all witnessed so much of in the media.  It has been shown to our community that it is going to take fresh resolve and attitude to deal with these new measures.  Paul is increasing EFF’s collaboration with policy makers in QLD health and police on the topics of festival safety, harm reduction and even on-going discussion for pill testing (Hell to the yes!).  Super interesting and important stuff that is just too good to paraphrase from, again.  Over to you Paul.

“It’s an interesting time where festival promoters are bearing the effects of our nation’s failed war on drugs – as public events, the effects are visible and somehow the problem is projected on to festivals and not seen as a broader social/ health issue that rocks up on our doorstep.

I’m happy to say that the mood in Queensland is much more positive and progressive than NSW where things are very combative, and we’re making some good relations and good steps towards collaboratively developing a more holistic approach to festival safety through documenting and sharing our approach to harm reduction with the regulators. It’s been well received and this year we’re even planning a festival safety panel at the festival with some great representation from government policy people.

At the same time, I think it’s worth saying that there is no magical panacea; it’s always a balance, and as much as we can talk about pill testing, better police practices, and harm reduction services, it’s also up to the festival participants to be smart and safe, avoid risky behaviour and over-intoxication and to care for your mates. If you love festival culture and enjoy having these events to brighten up your life, remember it’s a shared responsibility we all have to care for and maintain them, and put the best foot forward for how our festivals are perceived by the wider society,” said Paul.

Credit: Benjamin Weser

So this feels like a great place to wrap up this exciting insight into the current state of EFF at it’s 15th year anniversary.  We are so grateful to the whole team who put this event on and hold it in such esteem, it is a true diamond in the rough and I personally can not wait to fully immerse myself in this years many, many gifts.  

See you out there!

Important note to Attendees: This year EFF is expecting full capacity. The venue is asking the EFF community to be mindful of water usage! 80L per person per day is what the venue’s water treatment system can handle. Don’t waste water!

Written by: Laura Finlayson

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