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Pix by Sarah Gilpin

Despite the bleak outlook painted by the weather bureau, rock fans in South East Queensland united as one last weekend, as Lookout Festival shed its label as new kids on the block when they finally got the opportunity to showcase their debut line-up consisting of Live, Incubus, Birds Of Tokyo, Eskimo Joe and The Superjesus.

Held at the picturesque outdoor stage at Bribie Island’s Sandstone Point Hotel, the only thing that could potentially derail this new festival was the weather, and with thunderstorms forecast for 6 pm onwards I had my concerns whether the rock faithful would brave the conditions and risk getting drenched to see two major international rock acts and three Australian legends.

Gates opened at 2pm and by the time I arrived thirty minutes later the majority of grass in front of the massive stage was already seething with music lovers, dancing and singing along with Sarah Mcleod and the rest of The Superjesus who had the honour of opening festivities.

Despite the large crowd (some reports say it swelled to 12,000), access to the venue and parking was stress-free and simple, with the grass areas separated by portable railings into different sections depending on the category of ticket purchased. While I did hear a couple of rumblings of confusion, it actually made sense as the day progressed, with fans kept to manageable levels in each area without causing major discomfort to anyone watching from front to back.

Two large screens adorned either side of the stage, providing excellent viewing no matter where you chose to set up camp for the day, and the sound was spot on from the outset with The Superjesus sounding just as good as you would expect, only louder.

The band themselves looked relaxed and even casual on the large stage, belting out fan favourites Secret Agent Man, Shut My Eyes and Gravity, as well as new track We Won’t Let Go and a cover of Dancing With Myself by Generation X.

It would be unfair to say The Superjesus warmed up the crowd – rather they set the bar exceptionally high for the rest to follow – which Eskimo Joe did with ease when they graced the stage next.

Entering to the imposing orchestration of Star Wars, Eskimo Joe launched straight into Sarah, their enthusiasm inciting an instant wave of euphoria over the crowd and engaging with their minds and souls unequivocally.

Speaking of the crowd, it was an even mix of younger concertgoers through to seasoned veterans, and it was encouraging for rock in general to see so many fans barely out of their teens singing with gusto and passion.

Going through a set that included New York, Black Fingernails, Red Wine and Sweater, the Western Australian four-piece mustered every ounce of their considerable experience despite the oppressive heat, finishing their set with a wicked rendition of From The Sea that included an awesome drum solo towards the end that left no doubt as to their legendary reputation on the live touring circuit.

Although I was greatly looking forward to seeing Birds Of Tokyo, I was a little unsure because of the timing of their set in the late hours of the afternoon sun.

I have only ever seen the band live either inside a venue or outdoors at night, and one of the most captivating aspects of their performances has always been their light show and atmospherics – which would be difficult to replicate in the daylight hours.

Just before the band came on stage, I found out they had already played a festival in the Hunter Valley earlier that same day and had rushed from that set straight to the airport to make it in time for Lookout Festival.

Can’t deny their enthusiasm.

And they hit the stage running as though they were already warmed up, launching into Smith Street, Plans, and I’d Go Anywhere with an air of nonchalance and spirit of the occasion that only masters of their craft can convey.

Although the sun was still out, Birds Of Tokyo still persevered with their lighting and visuals, with the large screen to the rear of the stage flipping haphazardly through various images, lyrics and pictures that accentuated the mood and feel of the performance. The light show – while admittedly not as effective as usual given the light – was still impressive, with the dancing lazers providing a storyline all of their own, gliding along with the music and painting a sonic landscape that gave added depth to the music.

Then out came the acoustic guitar for The Greatest Mistakes, and down went your humble reviewer.


Battling the oppressive humidity and a large crowd, one theory is that dehydration caused from lack of water was the leading instigator in my fall from grace, but I still say it was the acoustic sounds coming from stage that triggered some form of self-defence mechanism. Regardless the cause the outcome was still the same.

I was overcooked.

But not so much that I didn’t come alive enough to ready myself for Incubus. I had only seen these guys once before at the very first Soundwave and was blown away, so to say I was looking forward to a second date would be an understatement.

Opening with the delicate strains of Quicksand, Incubus quickly moved onto Nice To Know You, with frontman Brandon Boyd looking resplendent with his porn star moustache, controlling the stage and music with effortless aplomb.

Following up with Anna Molly and Stellar, Incubus quickly settled into a groove, engaging with the crowd without taking the focus off their own performances.

Circles ignited the crowd into raptures, with the constant chants from sections of the crowd for Boyd to “take your shirt off” finally being answered before the band struck the familiar opening chords of Pardon Me, which once more sent the masses into overdrive.

Incubus are a seasoned and polished live outfit, and one thing that stood out from the outset was the slower tempo employed for most of the songs which added a nostalgic touch of intent without severely impacting the original versions. The majority of the tracks were maybe half a beat slower – more vocally than anything else – and although it was noticeable it was also effective and different.

Karma, Come Back provided new bass player Nicole Row the chance to shine with a wicked bass run/solo before the band threw in the first of three covers, Come Together by The Beatles. This particular version had far more swagger and groove than the popular original, with Incubus also paying homage to their influences with covers of Glory Box by Portishead and Let’s Dance by David Bowie.

Vitamin was the standout for me, with an improvised drum/bongo trade-off providing a sonic and visual highlight, which turned into a free-for-all all jam session that was as innovative as it was stunning.

Drive featured a massive crowd sing-along in the chorus, and when Incubus pulled out the acoustic guitars for Wish You Were Here the on-stage dynamics and overall impact of the set allowed for a victorious finale despite the more laid-back set closer.

As anticipation grew for the final act Live, the crowd also surged forward, creating another heat pool from which escape was futile.

Both side screens were emblazoned with Live’s logo before a massive bass reverb filled the arena, swirling with menace and intent before Live appeared and plunged straight into Hold Me Up, All Over You and Selling The Drama. The crowd responded in unison, singing passionately back as frontman Ed Kowalczyk set about weaving a sonic tapestry of mutual respect with the still massive crowd, while guitarist Zak Loy soared majestically and loudly each time his fingers caressed the strings.

Unfortunately, (and despite the fact I LOVE the song), I succumbed once more to heat stroke as the closing strains of Shit Towne filled the night air and remember little else of the evening besides being helped to the car and driven home.

But my spies that remained relayed that Live were “awesome”, with two bouts of either coincidence or divine intervention sealing the deal beyond reproach.

Firstly was the initial drops of rain that started to fall during The Dolphins Cry, and the second – and most dominant – being the thunderstorm that finally hit just as the closing notes of Lookout Festival and Live’s set concluded with Lightning Crashes.

If something like that doesn’t seal Live’s place in the annals of Rock God immortality, nothing will.

Queensland has had its turn, but the rest of Australia still has a chance to witness this great event. Venues and dates below.

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