In a festival-ready region, Raglan Presents is bringing Warrnambool’s live music scene back to life 

In a festival-ready region, Raglan Presents is bringing Warrnambool’s live music scene back to life 

Kol, Ryan and Brown from Raglan Presents
Words by Toby Lee

A trio dedicated to bringing a wide range of quality music to Warrnambool's seaside venues.

Pressure washing floors for an entire weekend isn’t everybody’s idea of a good time, but the members of boutique festival provider Raglan Presents are prepared to do what it takes to get the party started.

This Saturday night Raglan Presents is holding the Downtown Festival, its most dynamic event yet with alternative dance rock band Northeast Party House headlining the show at the iconic Lake Pertobe precinct in Warrnambool. With 800 tickets already sold, the event is promising to be a success, although it’s been a journey of persistence and perseverance to get to this point.

Just over two years ago, Warrnambool duo James Kol and Will Ryan were attending university in Melbourne and Geelong respectively when they realised that Warrnambool was missing out when it came to live music festivals.

“We were going to these things all the time in Melbourne and Geelong and Will was involved with a couple of these day parties, touring festival brands, sort of DJ’ing and helping organise,” said Kol.

“We were like, well we can make this work and we can do it down here because there’s nothing down here, so Will rang me and said ‘Let’s do something’,” said Kol.

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

As the idea grew, the team was faced with the task of finding a name for the company.

“We couldn’t think of one,” said Kol.

“I remember Will was sitting in Macey’s Bistro one night.

“He looked out on the sign and it had Raglan Parade and he goes what about Raglan Presents. As like homecoming, when you drive back home into town you’re driving into the heart of Warrnambool on Raglan Parade.”

After organising a couple of smaller events in Melbourne, it was clear the team needed to be bolstered for future events.

“That’s when we brought Josh in as well, because we realised that we were going to go bigger than what we originally ever thought,” said Kol.

Suddenly the trio were treading uncharted waters as they chased some of Australia’s leading bands to play events in their hometown of Warrnambool. The first major event the team organised was at the Cally Hotel, headlined by leading Australian indie-pop duo Client Liaison.

“I still remember laying in bed that night when we paid that deposit thinking we have to make this work,” said Kol.

The event was a success with 950 people packing the car park outside the Cally Hotel to dance to Client Liaison along with support act Morning Maxwell and local DJ’s Good Intentions and DJ Carly. The night set the foundation for what was possible in the future.

“That sort of kicked it off for Warrnambool because there was nothing like it,” said Kol.

Being a new business with an ambitious vision to give Warrnambool something it’s never had before meant that local support was going to play a key role in making it happen. The requirements of liquor licenses, venues and security hinged on solid working relationships with other organisations in the town. The Warrnambool City Council has backed them in from the beginning and the local police have been terrific with helping the team when it comes to the liquor license process.

“We are extremely lucky down here with the people that we deal with to help put these things on,” Kol said.

This support aided the team in achieving their original vision to hold events for 400 to 500 people.

With operations running smoothly and the business being five years ahead of where they thought it would be, it was unfortunate that a change in fortune came their way in the form of COVID-19.

“We suffered from the Covid because we did plan the big warehouse party in the old Callaghan’s Motors site which would’ve been epic. That was pretty heartbreaking.”

“No-one knows but we spent a whole weekend in there gerniing the floor, it was like a thousand square metres. Getting it so it was patron ready and that never happened because Callaghan’s got sold,” said Kol.

Despite the setback, the team didn’t stop from pushing on with plans for the 2021-22 festive season.

This Saturday’s event will be groundbreaking for Raglan Presents as it is the first time they’ve booked a live act with all the typical instruments as opposed to DJ’s.

“A live act is what you want, although it’s about three times the price,” the director said.

“We’ve always wanted to get to this live element point, but I guess we had to build up the capital and the confidence and the brand behind it,” said Kol.

A significant element for this weekend’s event is the location, with Lake Pertobe providing the perfect surroundings to hold a music festival’s electrifying energy. The open grass area, the lake and the Norfolk pines backed by the ocean set the scene for a night to remember.

“I’m super keen to, I guess, what do you call it? Ignite the space,” said Kol.

This is headline act Northeast Party House’s first gig back since what they deemed the ‘apocalypse’ of the music industry, referring to COVID-19.

“They’ll be rearing to go,” said Kol.

Looking ahead, Raglan Presents see themselves broadening the scope of what they can do by expanding to incorporate larger events and more brands.

“We see Raglan Presents as becoming more of a parent company and having brands underneath it and we’re just working on a brand at the moment that may be able to turn into a multi-city, regional event,” Kol said.

The team at Raglan Presents already have key events lined up for the near future with another one in January 2022 likely to be announced after the Downtown Festival this weekend.

Tickets for the Downtown Festival can be found here