FLIX IN THE STIX
Featuring Eskimo Joe, The Axis of Awesome, 19-Twenty
Friday, March 7
Wollongong Botanic Gardens
Even though he was part of the line-up, Lee Naimo was not sure about the mix'n'match schedule for the Flix In The Stix travelling film festival until he stepped out on stage for opening night in Griffith in January.
"I wouldn't have picked this lineup myself, but it is working amazingly well," he laughs down the phone.
"There have been huge crowds every night. You just don't know with this sort of thing sometimes."
"This sort of thing" is the Flix In The Stix festival, where film, music and comedy collide. Lee and trio, musical-comedy group The Axis of Awesome, take the stage in gardens and parks around regional Australia each night before a selection of short films from around the world are played on the big screen.
While the full schedule of films - all handpicked by Australian comedienne Julia Morris - is not revealed until show day, lauded comic films including Penny Dreadful and Minimus will be just two of many to screen through the evening, which comes to the Wollongong Botanic Gardens tomorrow night.
The night is bookended with music, with a local band in each city winning the chance to open the evening (Wollongong band 19-Twenty will warm up the stage tomorrow), before iconic Aussie rockers Eskimo Joe close out proceedings each night.
The pick-and-mix approach sees a wide range of fans roll up, which is one of Lee's favourite things about the concept.
"After the films, some people leave because they saw what they came to see. But then, some people come only for Eskimo Joe, some people come for us, and the local band brings their friends too," he said.
"It's exposing a lot of people to a lot of different things. It's good to play for people who might not have come along to see you specifically, or for you to see some other things you didn't expect."
The Axis of Awesome are perhaps best known for their viral video hit 4 Chord Song, in which they show a staggering array of hit songs including Journey's Don't Stop Believing, Missy Higgins' Scar, James Blunt's You're Beautiful, and Maroon 5's She Will Be Loved and can all be played with the same four chords.
They spend much of their year criss-crossing the country and globe on comedy festivals and tours.
The cut-throat world of comedy necessitates a new contingent of gags each year, but playing a stack of regional centres that they rarely get to visit means that fans will be treated to something of a "greatest hits" set from the trio.
"The whole thing is like a mini music festival," Lee says. "Outdoor stages, food, crowds all together having a dance. It's a great night."
And of course, while Eskimo Joe are one of the country's biggest and most popular bands, it isn't often that they - or any band, for that matter - get a chance to play the gorgeous surrounds of the Wollongong Botanic Gardens.
Flix In The Stix will be the second outdoor cinema to pop up in the gardens, after the IMB Sunset Cinema over the summer, but this will be the first opportunity in years for music to be played in the lush greenery.
"Eskimo Joe have been popular for so long, it's almost easy to forget how many good songs they have," Lee says. "It's great how the night just keeps rolling through. Families, kids, people coming after a day at work - it's a lot of fun."