4ZZZ Market Day Festival @ RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane (21/10/06)

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In continuing the celebration of their 30th Anniversary ‘On Air’, Brisbane’s most unique independent broadcaster 4ZZZ 102.1FM held their Market Day music spectacular last Saturday, very close to their ‘home’ at the RNA Showgrounds last Saturday.

Bursting on to the airwaves back in December 1975, 4ZZZ have since transmitted their broadcast from Mt Cootha to the Brisbane region at large. An independent community radio station showcasing fresh and local underground music, supporting local bands, artists, and events; 102.1FM exemplify many styles of sounds often ignored and unsupported by mainstream media. With a philosophy of Agitate, Educate, Organise, quick to challenge the status quo of conventional radio broadcasting music policy, ‘Zed’ as it’s often endearingly referred to, is the conduit for exposing the sounds of indie, punk, rock, noise, electronica, ska, and drum ‘n’ bass artists.

Having to incur the regular costs associated with running any sort of radio station, Zed depends almost entirely on sponsorship, promotions, subscriptions, and events to fund their financial commitments. ‘Market Day’ is one such event from which all proceeds are injected into operational funding of the station. In fact it was due to the success of this ‘music festival’ back in 1992, that enabled the freehold purchase of the current premises at 291 St Pauls Terrace, Fortitude Valley. This year for a mere $35 (for non-subscription general public), Market Day profiled a wonderful diversity of musical talent from a broad range of genres, offering more than 50 international, interstate, and local bands.

Incorporating the entire perimeter within that of St Paul’s and Gregory Terraces, bordered by Alexandria Street, the covered outdoor space of Expo Place 1, and the interconnecting buildings known as The Avenue No.8 to 12 accommodated all the performance stages on this day. Access into Market Day from Gregory Terrace, was as you would expect from such a large event, with about 4 entry aisles clearly indicating general admission passages from those segregated for artists and media representatives. Upon presenting tickets and ID, then being wrist-banded with the appropriate colour ascertaining one’s status, punters, artists and media alike were also offered an easy-folded A5 handout complete with line-up set times, area map, and ‘Handy hints for enjoying yourself at Market Day.

Immediately making our way into The Avenue for some thirst-quenching beverage of the alcoholic kind, we entered via ‘The Pit’ where ‘Western Decay’ had not long commenced their 35 minute timeslot. This stage complete with full concert lighting, hosted many bands that each had a large contingent of members. The likes of Empyrean, R.A.D, Excruciate, Minus Life, The Disables, and Dreamkillers, each had between half an hour and 45 mins to present their best. A little hesitant to venture in amongst the crowd where the only visible colour was that of black, my hubby and I, brightly attired in red, white and pink, hastily walked through to the first adjoining shed.

Well-laid out with plenty of room to move, this area housed the ‘market’ aspect if you like, of all things food and beverage, as well as an array of merchandise. Easily recognisable in the middle of the space was the all too familiar drink-ticket stand, where you had to decide in advance what sort of beverage you were willing to part your cash for. Very reasonably priced with a variety of canned Beer and Spirits at $5 and $6 respectively, and for just $3 you could swap a Soft Drink ticket for a not-so popular branded energy drink, or 2 bottles of water. Immediately opposite in a jay walk-like direction, the drink stall, just as the entry, was well-signed with where you could exchange your paper tickets for the appropriate aluminium-can beverage you were entitled to.

Through the middle of this large area were the general merchandise stalls where you could buy all matter of items to adorn the body. Ranging from sunglasses, footwear, jewellery, belt-buckles, hats, caps, male and female clothing, just about anything and everything fashionable or otherwise, as well as unabashed statement items, were all available. To stimulate the senses, you could outfit your vanity and bathrooms with soaps and body lotions, incense to create the perfect mood, or even glow-gear in every shape or form for the raver-types. Of course 4ZZZ had their own merchandise stand where you could purchase CDs of a plethora of local artists to which they’ve offered support with airplay, T-shirts, and not to mention their own branded cooler to keep the temperatures of any can or stubby from rising too quickly.

To satisfy the hunger or quench one’s appetite, again a diverse selection of tasty delights ranging from the standard side-show highly saturated and trans-fat-laden nasties, the highly sweetened frozen slushies, to an eclectic ethnic cuisine of Mexican, Indonesian, or traditional Hare-Krishna vegetarian. Whatever took your fancy, it was sure to have been fulfilled!

Just across from the drink ticketing section, 4ZZZ were going ‘live’ to air via their temporary outside broadcast set-up. At the time we visited, two female presenters were in the hot-seats producing, conducting interviews and playing musical delights akin with the sounds of 102.1FM, whilst of all things in the midst of a sports program. Complete with two studio racks, mixer, panel and other essential equipment, to the side was the program editor usually responsible for recording and preparing sound bites and grabs for future use, such as in news bulletins.

Venturing out toward Alexandria Street, was the enclosed area of ‘The Yard’, nicely shaded amongst the trees this was a rather pleasant place to be, not unlike feeling as though you were in the backyard with your very own enjoyable live entertainment. Catching a bit of both the Ben Whitecross, and Evan Alexander Bands in the late afternoon, the only thing that seemed to be missing was the BBQ, but then this was a Saturday. Other artists that would take the stage of ‘The Yard’ included Texas Tea, Talkshow Boy, and Mountains in the Sky. Walking back through The Avenue to the other end of the shed through which we first entered, ‘The Bassbin’ though not acoustically-ideal was the popular area for catching the likes of Maya Jupiter with MC Trey & Nick Toth in their collaborative Foreign Heights outfit, and the very unique Raz Bin Sam.

Back out in the open arena where, believe it or not there were actually two segregated ‘Smokers Area’, if you thought of lighting up outside of these boundaries, the contracted security made sure you were an abiding citizen in this instance, either butting out, or moving to the allocated place. Also not in short supply was an appropriate place to relieve oneself; not satisfactory with just the dozen or so toilet cubicles that are permanent fixtures in each of the gender-specific bathrooms, but Zed had also hired a row of portaloos – which I didn’t see anybody use the entire day.

Without a doubt the largest area occupying the ‘Expo Place’ was that of ‘The Coop’, undercover this massive stage was split in two for the alternating of bands; sensible given the ample equipment that needed to be assembled and dismantled between each artist, and if potentially a problem (which on this day wasn’t), prevent moshing. With half-hour timeslots each, Butterfingers, Kid 606, The Meanies, Strange Tenants, Curseovdialect, Giants of Science, Jump 2 Light Speed, and Iron On, were just some of the talent to adorn this stage. Catching the last of Transport at around 3pm, impressively, one of the guitarists got down to a supine laying position with knees bent (to support guitar), all the while playing – without missing a ‘strum’.

By far the best sounding stage of the lot was that of the ‘Doof Tent’, though strangely not in a tent! Now I’ve been to many a doof, and am a little bewildered for such a name, as it by no means had the ‘in-touch-with-nature feel’, especially with cement as the ground, and a real lack of comfy seating; actually any sort of seating. Perhaps because the predominant style (amongst the instrumental musicians) of music performed on this stage was electronic dance music, and ‘Doof Tent’ was more appropriate than ‘Oonce Oonce Stage’. Unfortunately missing Heist, I got there to catch the last of the very brightly-attired female DJ trio in Underpsyded; looking very cute in their Alice-in-Wonderland inspired floral dresses, their psy-toned set got my feet moving early in the day. Following on was a very small-stature one-man maestro known as Humans Minus Government, playing an interesting ‘live’ mixture of different tempo goa/psy tunes. Also playing ‘live’ were the talents of Lowkey + Nude, D-Ko, Murray Antill, Pony Loaf, The Bird, and Drop The Lime (the last two unfortunately missing due to a wet and early departure). In DJ talent, Valli mixed up her 45 mins spread out over two timeslots, amongst the sets of Octon, Zenith, and Orinoki.

An assortment of musical styles, whether disc-jockeys, live EDM artists, or small to large bands, there were great sound delights for all to take in. All in all a really well-organised and action-packed day; where else can Punks, Goths, Mod-Rockers, Grungers, Ravers, and Doofers almost share the same space for the sake of the greatest global communication – that of music, well done Zed!

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