State of the Art, how a community festival does it well

Everyone loves music festivals. Whether they like a small showcase event at their local or a massive three-day camping event, people really identify with live music. There are so many different parts that make a music festival great. Post State of The Art I sat down and thought about what really makes an event like this good and what parts are super important. So ahead of the festival season kicking off, I’ve got the rundown of how State of the Art thought about what was needed and how they really pulled it together.

sota

Layout 11/15

State of The Art (SOTA) is really spread out and that’s great. Having both free and ticketed aspects means that you can really use the cultural centre space well and that means that crowds are spread out and it’s really hard to get stuck behind someone or have your view really interrupted. The use of the area outside PICA was perfect, especially because the stairs give you a completely awesome view of the stage, no matter where you are.

Having the ticketed areas off to the sides (behind the museum and across from the art gallery) was great but also meant that if you didn’t know about them; you weren’t exposed to them which may have had an impact on last minute tickets sales

Sound quality 9/10

In a massive outdoor event, getting the sound right can be really hard. Thankfully, it almost seems that the whole cultural precinct has been designed to house live music events. Festivals have been held there for years and it works really well. It was a pretty windy day and night and the sound quality really held up.

Free/community aspect 17/20

Having so much free music was great. As I wondered around the event, I was really amazed by the diversity of the people there. Families sitting on the steps at 8.30pm, listening to music and eating food; groups of teenagers revelling at the chance to see bands play; older couples being wowed by what WA has to offer; and the usual crowd of music lovers. The mix was fantastic and it really gave the event a community feel. I would have been perfectly happy with sitting and hanging out watching the free stuff, and making that aspect strong is a great achievement.

Ticketed aspect 7/10

While I was happy sitting on the steps, tapping my feet and soaking up the community feels, it was nice to grab and drink and watch Downsyde. The tickets areas were good, but I did feel quite separated from the rest of the event, which was a shame. By Saturday afternoon, the tickets were only $35 which is ridiculously reasonable for the line-up. Forking over the cash was definitely worth it, but it was a shame that I felt so separated.

Artists 13/15

The line-up was great. Every artist has a connection to WA and as always, the headliners really brought it home. You Am I, Birds of Tokyo, The Love Junkies and local hip-hop legend Mathas stole the show for me. Mathas, who played with The Community Records supergroup early in the day nailed every second of the set, really reminding me why he’s becoming such a success. Other performers that definitely deserve a high five are Downsyde, Boom! Bap! Pow!, The Scientists and Sable.

The calibre of music really made me proud of WA. Some of our WA born artists blow me away and we’re so lucky that there’s this amazing community that really wants to foster and develop WA music. Events like this, and the work that WAM does really demonstrates that and this year it really came across throughout the whole day.

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Attendees 9/10

Events like this attract the most diverse crowd, but you’re never going to get your shirts off crews that other festivals attract, which I think it pretty positive. That being said, there was representation for almost every possible group or subgroup of people. I don’t remember the last time I saw a 60-year-old couple at the same place a group of alt/goth kids. It was freaking awesome. I think that speaks volumes about how well the festival has been organised and how they’ve really nailed their community engagement.

Atmosphere 7/10

The atmosphere was great, but I wanted it to be busier. In the ticketed areas, that were separate from the main area of the precinct, I missed that hustle and bustle that a festival gives you. The crowd really gets me pumped up and gigs and sadly, that was lacking a bit. Outside of the ticketed areas, the feeling was great though. I really felt like I was part of something.

Food 9/10

Perth has become such a foodie focused town and WAM really latched onto that. After the ridiculous success of all of the food festivals we’ve just had, it would have been a massive mistake to just have the usual festival food trucks selling chicken and chips.

The nine stalls part of the WA Street Food part (which had its own entrance from Beaufort St) was great. From home cooked Brazillian food at Comida Do Sol, to Grilled to the Mac, to What The Flip there was something for everyone. I think any festival that has Mexican, Asian, “dude food”, crepes and ice cream available has hit the nail on the head!

82/100

The thing that really stands out for me is how collaborative SOTA felt. That’s a really hard thing to do and not many large events are pulling it off. They really know how to bring music and the community together and to do it well.

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