We are living in the era of festival inception

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We are living in the era of festival inception

RISING festival
Credit: Peta Duncan
Words by Staff Writer

Festivals now have festivals within festivals within festivals, and we love it.

This seemingly unusual concept is epitomised by RISING, Night Trade, and Day Tripper.

If you’ve been living under a rock, RISING is Melbourne’s mammoth 16-day, city-wide festival, showcasing a vast diversity of boundary-pushing musical acts.

Night Trade made easy by Up is essentially RISING’s festival-within-a-festival – it’s the nightly hub. It hosts DJs, events, and performers most nights, spanning two major venues and their interlinking laneways.

Then there’s Day Tripper, a festival-within-a-festival-within-a-festival. With a whopping 23 acts over eight hours, ranging from Yasiin Bey to Bar Italia, it had all the hallmarks of a proper day-long music festival. Yet, it fit cohesively within both RISING and Night Trade, celebrating the best of both concepts.

Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

Day Tripper was a phenomenal success. The city-wide festival format is well-suited to Melbourne, with a long history of successful events like the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and Melbourne Fringe Festival.

But RISING has faced a significant challenge in replicating this success. It takes the broader festival format, places it in the middle of winter, and emphasizes a diverse celebration of various artistic forms and mediums rather than a cohesive, intertwining theme.

Music has been absolutely key. We’ve praised RISING’s impressive music lineups, which have led to numerous sell-out events this year despite the significant economic challenges facing the events sector. RISING won Best Metro Festival at the Music Victoria Awards last year and has been widely acclaimed for the strength and diversity of its music programming.

Day Tripper epitomised what RISING does so well: it celebrated subcultural icons both local and international—HTRK at Max Watt’s, MF DOOM at Melbourne Town Hall—encouraging audiences to engage and form their own emotional connections. In doing so, it transformed iconic venues like Melbourne Town Hall into vibrant, dynamic spaces.

It’s no wonder that Now or Never has replicated this model to its own success, with their own festival-within-a-festival at the Royal Exhibition Building last year.

As a broad concept, it’s highly intriguing. Its success lies in its conceptual strength at every level. Having Yasiin Bey perform a tribute to MF DOOM was a once-in-a-lifetime event that attracted a massive audience, which then trickled into every aspect of the festival.

Best of all, it’s refreshing to see so many unusual artists brought together on one-day. Increasingly, only a festival-within-a-festival model can really afford to accomplish this.

From Richard Youngs starting the day playing guitar with his feet, to Bar Italia’s too-cool-for-school set at the midway point, to Still House Plant’s beautiful and bizarre set at Max Watt’s, the day begun in typically-ecectic fashion.

This extended to WET KISS’s barnstorming punk happening right below Asha Puthli’s chilled-out disco niceties (and her own riveting stories of tripping, for that matter).

All of which was happening alongside the 24-Hour Rock Show. Every festival should have a chill-out space, and they don’t get more impressive than The Capitol, especially when it’s hosting massive displays of peak-era Jimmy Barnes, INXS, and Divinyls in Australian Made: The Movie.

It’s a reminder-within-a-reminder-within-a-reminder of just how lucky we are to enjoy such incredible artists in Melbourne.

There’s still so much happening at RISING this year, check out the full program here.