The New Wave: Jez Gordon's Festivals

Boogie music festival is like the Big Day Out’s chilled out, beautiful little sister – the one who distills their own vodka and then illustrates each label by hand.

Jez Gordon opts for a different analogy.

“It’s like stepping into an unreal alternate reality for three days,” he says.

 With only a small number of highly sought-after tickets available, boutique music festival Boogie is located on one of the lushest looking properties in Victoria and is all about partying hard and happily in a private natural setting.

 “We like to keep our special world to our beloved ticket buyers and supporters a little bit removed from the glaring public eye,” the website reads.

 Psychedelic dress ups, proper, locally made food and homemade cocktails are the name of the game here.

 “We have our own currency, a clubhouse straight out of Twin Peaks, the best crowd and people possible,” says Jez.

“It’s a festival where you can dress up in your finest, grab a cocktail and get on down."

Sydney-based, green smoothie-drinking Jez Gordon is one of the founders of Boogie and, more generally, the guy who is redefining the boutique music festival space in Australia.

After pulling off his first Laneway festival last month, starting a council-backed street party in Port Melbourne in January, and working with the Big Day Out for half of his life, you’d be right in thinking that there’s probably no one better qualified for the job. 

Jez kicked off his career in the industry as part of the BDO crew at the tender age of 17.  He had such a riot on his work experience that he ended up staying - for another 17 years.

“I was asked to do some pretty crazy things, so it was a lot of fun for a young fella - real running away with the circus type stuff,” he says.

Starting out as an assistant stage manager – “which basically meant a bit of everything but mostly having a lot of fun with the crazy family we called BDO,” - Jez went on to join the team that brought Lilyworld to the festival.

Squeamishly described by Nova FM as the ‘little, freaky, hippie stage at the Big Day Out where anything goes’, Lilyworld is the home of semi-nude twister, rastah reggae, Japanese beat boxing and giant decorative buddhas. Dizzee Rascal, Reggie Watts and Lilly Allen have all played there -  and The Chemical Brothers were even induced to play a set when they were holidaying in Australia rather than touring.

No wonder Jez was promoted to the overall event management team and, in 2012 became the national event manager - the year before The Red Hot Chili Peppers headlined after a thirteen year hiatus.

“The most intricate part of a festival is making sure the bands that are scheduled to play have everything exactly right to be able to take to the stage and perform under the best possible conditions,” says Jez.

“We need to make sure… that all the necessities are there ready for them: food, booze and especially the correct equipment.”

One can only imagine the requests of bands like The Prodigy, Marilyn Manson, Metallica, Tool and Rammstein – all of whom have headlined over the years and whose backstage behaviour is the stuff of legends. 

Everyone’s heard rumours about the near-impossible riders that bands of this calibre demand.  Surely Jez has seen some weird back stage antics during his illustrious career?

“Nothing I can repeat,” he says.  What a professional. (Damn him.)

It makes sense to learn that this was the guy who convinced the City of Port Phillip Council to get behind a punk rock street party in Port Melbourne last month. 

With kegs of locally distilled booze, a pig-on-the-spit and hair cuts from a local barber on offer, it’s no wonder that the bass guitarist of the Cosmic Psychos described the inaugural Port Royal Street Party as “a fucking doosie.” 

“My mate Jimbo [Ex-BDO set designer Jim Clark] and I were approached by our friends at Globe skateboarding who have their headquarters in the old Cadburys Chocolate Factory [on Fennell Street],” says Jez. 

“They knew we could do it from our experience with Big Day Out and Boogie. So we went for it.”

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First image source
Second image - Jez's selfie