Surfers Paradise was booming with music lovers, the streets electric with energy.
Surf, sunshine, and singing – spring is here, and therefore SPRINGTIME is too. 2023 was the second year of the Gold Coast’s free all-ages festival, and what a year it was.
With a 3-day lineup boasting headliners like Bag Raiders, Benee, and Matt Corby, you’d be expecting to blow a couple hundo on this – and who has money like that to spare right now?
So, when the completely free festival was announced, everyone jumped on that quick-smart. Surfers Paradise was booming with music lovers, the streets electric with energy.
SPRINGTIME didn’t just cater to those there for the tunes, though. The boldest festivalgoers braved the “Quest of Chaos”, where the team from Shock Therapy Arts, dressed as an array of wacky and wonderful characters, tried to stop competitors from finishing their obstacle course.
We’re talking about someone dressed as a mouldy block of cheese standing at the top of an inflatable slide hurling “cheese” at a participant as they tried – and failed – to get to the top. Throw in some Zorb balls, a speedo-laden rainbow parakeet, and a naked mole rat made not-so-naked by three bras, and you can visualise the chaos.
Other attractions included live murals by YEAHYEAHCHLOE and Malara Rise, sick tricks at the Vans Skate Plaza, DJ workshops, and the Gold Coast Music Awards. But you’re not here for that, so let’s get into the music.
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We attended the Saturday of the festival, when everyone was rearing and ready to go. Austin Mackay kicked off the day at the Beach Stage, emulating the perfect “surfer dude” vibe. The Newcastle artist, shredding a multicoloured electric guitar like the rest of his band, sounded like the lovechild of Vance Joy, Ocean Alley, and Ball Park Music. His indie folk/rock music felt like spring incarnate – and dancing in the sand with the sun shining and sea breeze flowing certainly contributed.
The music could only be described as “head bop tunes”, and his audience did just that, while Mackay pulled out his own smooth moves on stage. The chemistry between the bandmates was palpable, causing the whole set to feel like a backyard bash on the beach with all your bros.
Next up was Dizzy Days on the Dr. Martens Street Stage. The Brisbane all-female band, clad in neon outfits, almost definitely made their whole audience think, “I love when women-” at least once during their set. Their funky rendition of Murder On The Dancefloor by Sophie Ellis-Bextor had the whole crowd dancing, and the momentum didn’t stop there.
Every song was wiggle-worthy, even the sad ones. As lead singer Aisling O’Byrne said, “This one is about heartbreak… boo hoo.” Finishing up their set with both a singalong and an epic drum solo by Mikaela Swan, Dizzy Days’ energy was unparalleled – it’s not often you see bandmates trip over each other because they’re dancing too hard. Girlbosses for sure.
Yb. headed up the Beach Stage next, bringing a chill RnB vibe for a bit, perfect for relaxing and having a drink on the sand. Once you’d had your fix of calm though, he kicked it up a notch. His rendition of Ur Mum by Wet Leg had the whole crowd going feral, performing the “longest and loudest scream” at SPRINGTIME.
And, if you thought it was wild then, all you had to do was wait until he played $20 by boygenius. Insane. His transitions between relaxed and upbeat songs were so smooth, you barely noticed you were dancing until you were jumping up and down.
If you were more after some dad rock, The Vultures were definitely providing it back at the Dr. Martens Street Stage. With epic guitar solos and hair flips aplenty, they brought the nostalgia to the Gold Coast. The falsetto in Escobar was on point, and the happy bop that was Another Minute brought a smile to everyone’s faces. Chuck in a bassist that looks like Timothee Chalamet and a bunch of synth, and you’ve got yourself a vibe.
Running back to the Beach Stage, you could find grentperez, adorned in a froggy headband, the crowd eating right out of the palm of his hand. The young Sydney artist, about to go on tour with Rex Orange County, has bedroom pop down pat, and has awkwardcore nailed. Giggling while dancing around the stage, his contagious joy made the whole audience feel like a kid again.
During Clementine, every couple could be seen dancing to the adorable love song. With his laughs echoing, dance breaks between his songs, and his abundant use of mouth trumpet, he really was the most unserious artist ever. And the audience was here for it.
As the sun set, Sunshine & Disco Faith Choir walked out on stage – and so the shimmering technicolour fever dream began. With harmonies for days, the Disco Faith Choir, wearing blue and gold choir robes with a flocks-worth of feathers, sang along to Sunshine’s DJ set.
Fusing house, faith, techno, and gospel, it was hard to keep up, but, boy, was it fun to try. Putting their own twist on classics like When Doves Cry by Prince, What Goes Around… Comes Around by Justin Timberlake, Dreams by Fleetwood Mac, and Rolling in the Deep by Adele, the crowd was screaming along to every word.
Giving the audience barely enough time to recover from the glorious acid trip of the last band, headliner BENEE brought the energy. The epitome of a Gen Z star, the 23-year-old from Auckland came out with a bedazzled mic, funky sunnies, red leather uggs, and dances you could find on TikTok.
Interacting with the audience at every point during her set, she exchanged finger love hearts with fans while singing her hits like Beach Boy, Glitter, and Find an Island.
You could feel the bass reverberating through your bones as she played Green Honda with such a high intensity – while someone in the audience shot a bubble gun into the air, filling the crowd with a mystical wonder. Topping the night off with a robot dance battle with her guitarist and playing fan favourite Supalonely, BENEE was the perfect end for the perfect day at SPRINGTIME. And then the audience headed home, ready to do it all again the next day.