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Grampians Music Festival's eclectic lineup is just one part of the whole magical experience

There are three words that sum up Grampians Music Festival – diversity, experience, and opportunity. Getting ready to celebrate its third year next month, GMF is not just an opportunity for people to go and experience the diversity of the music and activities on offer, it’s also a massive opportunity for the festival’s performers and its organisers.

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Beginning with the incredible lineup of Angie McMahon, Sampa The Great, RAT!hammock, Slum Sociable, BATTS and Benny Walker – just a few of the names to look forward to this year – GMF is a three-day camping festival with a twist. Unlike most festivals, the schedule is tailored with the whole experience in mind rather than just the music. 

“I spent a lot of my time in my teens to mid-twenties going to festivals, some small, some big. The beauty of the small ones is exactly that,” says festival director, Carly Flecknoe. 

“It’s waking up and going ‘What am I going to do today?’ and that doesn’t mean organising where my friends and I are gonna meet up between sets, it’s going, ‘What time do I want to get down there and set myself up? Today, am I going to drink beer or am I going to drink gin?’ It makes the whole process so much more relaxed.”

The crowd expected at GMF is as beautifully eclectic as its lineup – it’s a little bit of everybody and equally as inclusive as it is diverse. “I do find it is unique,” Flecknoe says. “It’s the music aficionado, the person who loves going to small gigs and is always there for the opening performance. They want to see those acts because they could be the next big thing.

“Then there are the music lovers in general, and what they want to get out of it is the vibe of the atmosphere and the festival in its entirety.”

Grampians Music Festival boasts a diverse range of attendees, from people in their early 20s to their 40s and beyond. Flecknoe explains in detail the family-friendly vibe of the festival where kids under 14 are admitted free. A great blend of those who are really experienced in going to festivals and have their calendar filled up, there are also those who used to do that but now bring their children – a special setting for their first music festival experience.

Not only is GMF focused on the diversity and inclusivity of music and punters, but organisers spread their welcome to artisan eateries and additional entertainment, too. “We do craft beer, gin, all premium products – I guess the idea is to come and enjoy the whole experience, [you] get to take it all in, rather than spending $15 on a Hahn Dry just to have a bit of booze.”

Boasting an environmental sustainability policy and an inclusion policy built into the festival’s framework, Flecknoe says GMF organisers have a unique view as to the role of a music festival. “I think to some degree it’s about being role models,” she says. “I think a festival has a place to set up a framework, and a footprint almost, of a behaviour that’s acceptable. 

“[Our] gender diversity and inclusion policy covers everything from how anyone can access the festival to our lineup, making sure all kinds of cultures and genders are represented. 

“We feel like we’re putting something out there that’s holistic and fits the modern music community. It means the crowd that comes along to enjoy GMF are in line with that as well.”

Collaborative, diverse experiences are essential to the GMF ethos and it stretches into the GMF team, as well. Since September a mentor program has been in operation, giving young people the opportunity to experience the day-to-day happenings of what it takes to put on a music festival. “It’s fundamental,” says Flecknoe. “It’s an invaluable opportunity to work alongside the festival committee and learn about working in music.”

For young and local talent, the opportunity to play a festival stage also comes with the opportunity for exposure. Thanks to a collaboration with GMF and The Push, Ballarat local A Miner was the winner of the Regional Electronic Producer and DJ Competition and will perform next month. “I have a feeling he’s going to be a big thing,” says Flecknoe.

Set in the idyllic surrounds of the Grampians National Park, GMF promises to be as warm, interesting, and welcoming as its organiser and lineup. “It’s about finding yourself a spot, setting yourself up, and taking in everything that’s around you,” says Flecknoe. 

Exploring the headline acts, Angie McMahon has garnered strong attention from both home and abroad for her wistful lyricism and smooth vocals. ‘Slow Mover’ was her stunning first single, while follow-up tracks ‘Missing Me’, ‘Keeping Time’ and ‘Helpless’ see her maintain her momentum.

Sampa The Great has also been enjoying a swift rise. Two albums down, Sampa has become one of the most exciting forces in Australian hip hop and has affirmed herself as a force to be reckoned with on the live stage. She won 2018 Age Music Victoria Awards for Best Hip Hop Act and Best Soul, Funk, R&B album [with Birds and The BEE9] and will be bringing her formidable energy to Grampians Music Festival.

Grampians Music Festival goes down in Halls Gap from Friday February 15 to Sunday February 17. Check out the festival website for tickets and the full lineup.