There is no doubt that Festival of the Sun is going to be one of the biggest events for 2008, but who works behind the scenes to make it happen? Candice Rose chased down Scott Mesiti and Simon Luke, the two engineers who will be bringing the music to you.
> The rumour is FOTSUN (Festival of the Sun) 2008 sold out in 15 minutes!
Scott: Yes, our Early Bird allocation did; we couldn’t believe it. I thought I was getting a call from Moshtix to say there was a technical problem or something. The support this year has been amazing.
> To establish a festival takes a considerable amount of energy and dedication. Why did you think it was time for Port Macquarie to have a music festival like FOTSUN?
Simon: When I returned from living away from home for about 5 years, I was a bit jaded about the lack of things to do for younger people in Port Macquarie.
FOTSUN is only 2 days of the year, but it has enabled a live entertainment industry to blossom in Port Macquarie and has helped put Port Macquarie on the map as a place that younger people see as desirable to live in and visit.
It has been a hard road with some pretty big barriers, but the young voices of our community helped us succeed and we will never forget the importance of that … even as we get old!
> What is the appeal of FOTSUN – how do you see the future of the festival?
Scott: We love the fact that FOTSUN is inexpensive and intimate. We have been asked by quite a few people about turning the festival into a 10,000 capacity and we always reply with the same answer … then it just wouldn’t be Festival Of The Sun. I think in the future we’d like to see FOTSUN in other music starved regional areas around the country.
> What makes FOTSUN different?
Scott: The location has to be a good starting point. How can you beat it? The first thing we try to offer is vibe. As soon as you drive into Sundowner on FOTSUN weekend you immediately feel it … that’s why we now have people staying up to 5 nights. Couple that with a music loving crowd, intimate environment, and artists who feel like they are on holiday, and we have a pretty good mix.
> You’re both passionate about the music scene. What do you look for when choosing a musical lineup?
Scott: The scene here is Port is growing at a rapid rate, which is why we started working with the guys at Flynns beach to put shows on at the Pavilion.
Whether it be the Festival or the Pavilion we are booking, we obviously make sure that the music fits within the event we are doing. Things like radio play, attitude, and development are overall aspects of it as well.
> Audience attendance at the festival is kept to around 3,000. Is this a deliberate policy to maintain the integrity of the event?
Simon: A driving force for us in deciding the capacity for the event was to maintain an intimate experience for both artists and customers.
Yeah we do get a few “why don’t you make it bigger” comments. For us it’s not about the quantity; it’s about the quality, and we feel that by keeping this at an intimate size we are both ensuring our impact on the community is positive, maintainable, and unique.
Our goals in overall growth are to ensure people visit Port Macquarie more often, stay for longer periods, and ensure they enjoy as many experiences while in the region as possible.
This includes restaurants, attractions, tours, shopping, and whatever else the town can offer.
> What is in store for FOTSUN 2008?
Scott: This year is our strongest line up. Every single band I have personally seen live, and I think they are going to blow people away.
The Panics are amazing songwriters, Lior’s voice is mind blowing, Kate Miller-Heidke is a great live performer, Wolf & Cub will bring back old school rock flavours, and then local band Barrel House will surprise the hell out of everyone with their music ability … something for everyone.
Simon: All I can say is Scott Mesiti knows how to pick a line up. I know he puts many hours into listening and considering acts to suit FOTSUN, and many of these acts have moved on to become Australian favourites.
> What are the other features that make FOTSUN so special?
Simon: The idea with FOTSUN is for people to enjoy the property while enjoying the acts. The stalls are carefully selected to offer a wide range of food and product while also providing a reasonable price.
Sundowner would have to offer the highest quality festival camping facilities in Australia, with hot showers, resort pool, camp kitchens, a free hotspot and an easy walk into town.
Many locals have told me they feel like they are on a weekend away and I would encourage locals to take advantage of the ‘No Car Camping Special’ which gives you Thursday night free if you leave your car at home for the weekend.
> Have you got any other plans for the live music scene for your PMQ fans?
Yeah, we want to say thanks to everyone for their ongoing support of FOTSUN.
Funnily enough, we do have a few more things up our sleeve, including working with The Flynns Beach Pavilion in bringing more acts to town – which offers a live music scene as well as raising funds for the Flynns Surf Life Saving Club.
The upcoming Pavilion Shows currently include Epicure, Sunday 19th October 6pm (early show) supported by local bands Sickboy and The Grains.
We also have Youth Group and The Red Sun Band on Thursday, October 30th at 8pm, and Laura Jean and Jen Cloher on Sunday 16th November at 6pm (early show).
We’ll be booking some more shows for summer as well.
> Thanks Scott and Simon for promoting more live music in Port Macquarie.