Northeast Party House emerge from an 18-month break and set Warrnambool alight at The Downtown Festival

Northeast Party House emerge from an 18-month break and set Warrnambool alight at The Downtown Festival

Words by Toby Lee

Raglan Presents hosted Downtown Festival on the weekend, its most dynamic event yet with alternative dance rock band Northeast Party House.

Northeast Party House survived ‘slightly undercooked’ sausage rolls in Camperdown to explode at Lake Pertobe in Warrnambool on Saturday night in what was an out-and-out success for festival providers Raglan Presents.

In mild, overcast conditions, over 800 people descended on Lake Pertobe to shake off the Covid blues and enjoy the energetic, much-anticipated festival. From local artists to the renowned Northeast Party House, the Downtown Festival encapsulated exactly what everyone has been missing when it comes to live music over the past 18 months.

People were quick through the gates early in the festival to see local Warrnambool DJ’s Mac and Cook in what was their first proper live gig playing in front of an audience. The funk-house duo have been playing together for 18 months and were ecstatic to have the opportunity to play live on home soil.

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Festival organiser James Kol emphasised the impact that Mac and Cook had early in the piece.

“We’ve had a big turn out early on, I guess the local support, people wanting to support Mac and Cook. It’s their debut gig, they nailed it, set the tone early,” said Kol.

As the crowd continued to fill in, it was a heart-warming sight to see what looked like a thousand smiles as people relished the chance to be openly and freely together again. Raglan Presents provided a flawless arena for everyone to make the most of the opportunity. Drinks were served up the back of the space, food trucks were selling pizzas and kebabs, and clothing labels Frequencies and Cat Street had pop-up stalls on the perimeter.

Lake Pertobe itself was also an asset to the night. The towering Norfolk pines were a magical backdrop for the event and the crisp air off the Southern Ocean was welcomed by all as the music radiated and pulsed throughout the seaside location.

Ocean Grove DJ Isaac Ayers brought the fun for his set as he sported a bright pink cowboy hat and a black jacket behind the decks.

“I bought it at the Geelong show once and then wore it to a gig once and everyone loved it so now I just wear it every time,” said Ayers of his pink cowboy hat.
People gravitated to the dancefloor as Ayers played a number of known vocal tracks.

“I like to try and get everyone on the dance floor and having fun,” Ayers said.

Ballarat DJ duo, Sweat Dreams, then lifted the tempo as their house, Balearic house and deep dark disco tracks reverberated throughout crowd. The effect of their music was perpetually willed on by one part of the duo, Daz, who relentlessly swung his arms in various patterns. Daz’s energy levels rubbed off on the crowd as anticipation rose for what was to come later in the night.

A certain vibrancy filled the air in the twilight hours. The sky took on a translucent feel as the fading sunlight bled through the clouds to illuminate festival-goers on each other’s shoulders with their sunglasses rocked back on their foreheads. The scene then went to another level when Geelong based DJ, House Cat, owned the stage like none before him on the night. Wearing a grey, knitted jumper and in a consistent natural jive with his music, House Cat put on an expressive set of driving, forthright beats that seemed to be louder than anything else in what was a captivating performance.

“When you’re playing songs you like to people you like, you’re always gonna have a good time,” said House Cat.

“I can’t believe how well the Raglan boys have done. They’ve done so well, good on em. Very stoked to be a part of it.”


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As darkness set in, members of the crowd gathered tightly in front of the nine-metre wide stage in an attempt to find the best position they could for Northeast Party House. Lead singer of the band, Zachary Hamilton-Reeves, was rapt to be there after having a long stint without a live performance.

“Good spot, good crowd, good sound system. Excited, a little bit nervous, first show back in a while,” said Hamilton-Reeves.

By the time they took to the stage, the bond between all the festival-goers had been formed and the collective build-up of energy was ready to be released. It didn’t take long for this to happen as Hamilton-Reeves opened his arms wide to welcome the crowd. ‘For You’ initially melted the crowd into a blissful state but this didn’t last long as the band rifled into ‘Lose Control’ and sent the crowd into a frenzy. Hundreds of fists were being pumped as any build-up of Covid steam was well and truly let off.

‘Magnify,’ a song written by guitarist Mitch Ansell is about the great times when a relationship is in its early stages. Hamilton-Reeves described the song as ‘euphoric, captivating, uplifting’ and it certainly had this effect on the crowd. The band were all smiles on stage when they began one of their most well-known songs, ‘Calypso Beach.’ Bassist, Oliver Packard and guitarist Jack Shoe were mucking around laughing with each other and Hamilton-Reeves had his arms wide open again embracing the night. The song went off as expected and Northeast Party House had given the crowd a fantastic set.

The night finished up with DJ Adam Bennett bringing it home in the last hour as people began to consider what they might do afterwards.

Full credit must go to the team at Raglan Presents for providing the people of Warrnambool and surrounding towns with a terrific festival. Through weeks of preparation and coming up with a well thought out plan, they orchestrated a memorable night.

“We’ve tried to nut out a show that we’re really proud of and hopefully everyone has a good time at,” said festival organiser James Kol.

The team did that and much more.

You can find out more about Raglan Presents here