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CoLab Festival

Hermitude.

CoLab popped up out of nowhere on the Triple J website last week. Now that the website is launched, it’s far easier to figure out what the Saturday, November 29 event at UWA is about – collaboration, small festival good vibes, and some of the biggest names in Australian dance music. ZOE KILBOURN chats to Mike Lloyd about his brainchild.

Mike’s been in the business of event management for a decade, “and this is the most excited I’ve been in eight years”. Held on the UWA Crawley campus, this little festival has already signed up Midnight Juggernauts, Hermitude, The Jungle Giants and Indian Summer, among others. But he’s taking on some big rivals – notably Stereosonic.

“It went from going round the table, saying, ‘Why don’t we want to go to big festvals anymore? We don’t want to pay over a hundred dollars for a ticket, we don’t want to pay 9 or 10 dollars for a beer, and for it to be served out of a production line where every bar looks the same. We want to get beer prices down to six dollars. We don’t want to have it full of thousands of people who meet the singlet-wearing, steroid-pumping stereotype. We want a really good crowd of three or four thousand people who really appreciate the music.’ Food’s a big one as well. Part of the day should be having some good food.

“The whole idea behind CoLab is a collaboration of the ideas of everyone who wants to be involved,” Mike says. “On purpose, we haven’t filled the whole program. We launched the festival last week, and on Tuesday [July 30] we went down to UWA and talked to all the clubs – all in one room. We said, ‘This is a chance for you guys to do what you want for a festival. We’ve got the lineup, we’ve got the acts, we’ve booked the space – now let’s let it grow.’ It’s not just one promoter saying, ‘here it is.’” He’s excited for Electronic Music Appreciation Society DJs filling up a uni tavern lineup alongside major artists’ DJ sets, architecture and engineering students teaming up to create installations, student artists creating art on site.

Mike spent six years at UWA, but it’s not any old nostalgia that’s bringing him back. In 2002, he was president of the notorious ‘70s party club, Solid Gold. “I’m showing my age here, but this was in the late ‘90s, early ‘00s. We would put on a tav disco and sell out in a day. We sold out a roller disco in twenty minutes. The Solid Gold ball was a thousand people, all you can drink. We had all the lines – Be There Or Bee Gee. Bester In Polyester.”

That skewy sense of fun is definitely present in the plans for the festival, as it was in his earlier event series for “23-35s”, Cuban Club. Themed bars keep cropping up in his event summaries.

“They’re not set in stone yet, because we want different people to come up wth different ideas,” says Mike of the bars. “We’ve come up with a few different ideas – having a science bar with science students in lab coats doing mixology. Having an American jock bar – students in sports gear, with the main beer probably being Emu Export. Not taking ourselves seriously at all, having fun with it. Nerd bars. We have a winery coming in who want to set up a wine bar, where everyone knows their wine. Small bars are killing it right now, because it’s such a better experience.”

So why the secretive marketing? “The stealth approach is due to the fact we can’t afford to advertise. But I think that’s one of those things – because it’s $80, that’s advertising enough in itself.”

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