FOTSUN 2014 – review and photographs


Born-and-bred Port Macquarie girl, Sophie Metcalfe, headed to the tenth anniversary of Festival of The Sun, armed with notepad, camera and a heart filled with pride:

It’s been a decade! A decade since one lovely modest afternoon, some mates played a few tunes along Port Macquarie’s break wall. Not only did they have a grand old time on this afternoon, but they also sparked an idea that grew into one of the most successful boutique festivals on the East Coast of Australia.

Selling out in just three weeks it was clear that the 10-year anniversary of Festival of The Sun was going to be a good one. I always laugh when FOTSUN gets called a ‘boutique’ festival, probably because whenever I hear that word ‘boutique’ I imagine a fashionable lady in her 60’s named Sandra and her frock shop that sells only silk wrap dresses and cotton scarves. But Sandra would probably party at FOTSUN because there’s always a familiar vibe here like you’re at your cousins loose Christmas party. The kind where Uncle Kev is wasted and passed out in shanty town’s blow up pool or some guy in a Santa hat just did a nuddy run down to the beach.


FOTSUN spent the first half of its career not only building a reputation as a pretty good way to spend a weekend, but also readjusting its rules and now I believe they’ve nailed the recipe:

1. Capacity is restricted at 3000 and is staying there, (there’s no possible way they can expand into the town and the ocean)
2. It continues to be a BYO festival with no license, so there’s no monopoly on the price of drinks
3. There’s a beach next door with added lifeguards, one even watched my camera equipment for me as I went for a dip

There’s such a chilled out vibe with festivals of this size. There’s no ghetto filled with portaloos, no great wall of china lines for the bar, no lineup clashes and dashes to other stages and no long walk to your tent to stock up on sunscreen and beer. Despite the sun tantalizing our taste buds in between buckets of rain, everyone was in good spirits and the campground was packed on the Thursday and even Wednesday before. The Friday kicked off with a few local indie rock acts Buoy Oh Buoy and Pelican Itch. It was good to see that the rain didn’t keep punters away for supporting our Unearthed lads from the mid north coast.


As far as festival eateries go, Fotsun has always supported some of the most delicious and delectable street food to be found on the mid north coast. Although there was an initial panic as rumor spread that the famous hare krisha kotfta balls were nowhere to be seen. People developed their own theories that the rain kept those beautiful vegan hippies away, but the most likely scenario is that they were scared off from the robust smell of smoked meat wafting through the air. Wedged in between the shade of a large Eucalyptus tree and a German Wurst van sat the jolly girls and boys from “The Meating Place”. A giant roast oven spitting out charred chicken, slow roast rare angus beef with potatoes and gravy and not to mention the piece de resistance, a whole pig of pulled pork more tender than the bosom of a prince’s wet nurse. Veteran Fotsunners quickly forgot their vegan pastime and embraced the farm on a spit with open arms. “The Meating Place” was such a hit that they completely ran out of meat by 4pm on Saturday.


Violent Soho wrapped up on Friday by flicking their long locks and causing some people serious whiplash; and as to be expected Fotsunners got a little excited on the Friday night and were slow to arise to the music kicking off at 10am the next day. Though a concoction of Neurofen, Mylanta, sea water and Tora’s lovely harmonies, we were on the road to repair. All with super sweet voices these lads have a musical maturity that goes well beyond their short career and I’m sure their trip to Europe will look good on them. They were definitely a stand out for me.


Fotsun seems to follow a theme with it’s lineups, and this year was reserved for rascally wild punk rock with a sprinkling of hip hop. Saturday especially with both The Stiffys and Dune Rats setting the pace with demands of profanities, drinking and debauchery. With the Stiffys displaying a sign that simply read “The Stiffys respectfully yet sternly demand that everyone has access to at least two drinks” and the Dunies throwing out blow up pool toys and beers to the audience. Festivals of this size always feel like the artists themselves are on a holiday of their seemingly dull and dreary lives of being rockstars and they’re also here to get pissed and sweaty with the rest of us.


Though wholesome events weren’t completely lost with the Dune Rats surprising us all with a wedding proposal on stage, and with a lead up like that, “She said yes Cunts”


Saturday also saw some stand out performances from Tropical Zombie, The Cairos and All Day. The Acoustic stage, which keeps us occupied between sets, is always a delight but I think this one goes to Canadian heartthrob Tim Chaison. His fiddle folk had people ‘Frodo Baggins’n’ in the sand and ladies throwing up their favors yelling “We love you Tim!!” He throws a darling bashful smile.


The tenth year came to a climax with the always-delightful Jezabels. Australians have been proud to watch the success of these guys on international stages but Fotsun always manages to bring home big names to thrash that tiny one on the coast. Hayley Mary (looking absolutely fierce in those shorts I must say) jokes with the crowd “I remember playing Fotsun way back in the early days, to a pretty much empty crowd being the first slot on the Friday, but thanks for showing up this time guys”. Then she let her vocals rip, jumped out into the crowd and still managed to nail the falsetto of “Hurt Me” whilst being grabbed and prodded into the air by punters.


Being a Port Macquarie girl born and bred, Fotsun was such a defining event in the teenage years of my generation that without fail, every year you go it feels like a school reunion. You’re always running into people that you hardly knew, let alone even liked, but time looks good on people and you end up having some beers and catching up like long lost souls. Regaling stories of your first joint and rolling “Red Bears” under the fence when you were underage and proudly telling out-of-towners “I remember when Gotye played here, we even got him!!”

Yep, it’s hard to not be proud of this little and loose boutique festival showing the big guys who’s boss.


We’ll be posting heaps more photos from FOTSUN on our Facebook page in the next few days. So be sure to follow us here to see them all.



Words and pictures by Sophie Metcalfe.