It has never felt so much like the beginning of summer than it did this past weekend. We have had a bit of dodgy, rainy weather of late so it was a huge relief to finally see the clouds disperse and the sun come out in full force for the 2015 iteration of Yours and Owls Music and Arts Festival.
Photos by Brooke Tunbridge
With an insanely good lineup to play with, the fifth Yours and Owls Music and Arts Festival didn’t disappoint with a weekend that brought Wollongong to life
It was hot, but not so hot that you wanted to crawl up into a sweaty ball and melt. There was a slight ocean breeze that swept North Wollongong’s Stuart Park for the most part of the day, so it’s fair to say that it was pretty much perfect weather. With such a huge line-up on offer, everyone’s expectations were set pretty high.
The festivities kicked off on Friday afternoon, and really set the mood for the rest of the weekend. Ash Grunwald was pretty quick to draw in thick crowd, and his upbeat set lifted the atmosphere. He was followed by Boo Seeka and Salmonella Dub who just kept pumping the energy and the crowd up for the remainder of the night, just about everyone left on a high buzzing for the main event on Saturday.
With just one stage set up in the middle of the field, there was no missing anyone or having to make the life-altering decision when it comes to band clashes. To keep the day running smoothly with no down time, Wollongong DJ legends Parkside took over the stage between each band, and did a perfect job of keeping the party vibe alive. With a mixture of new and old tunes, teamed with their unmistakable tropical undertones, they amped the funk level of the day up and each time they hit the stage, it was impossible not to have a little boogie.
The crowd was surprisingly slow to roll in on Saturday, and Stuart Park didn’t seem to start filling out until around 3 in the afternoon. But that didn’t deter the earlier acts from putting on killer sets. Kicking the day off was triple J unearthed competition winner and Wollongong native Bec Sandridge, who brightened up the day with her upbeat, 80’s pop influenced tunes, proving that she was the perfect comp winner.
Next up was The Pinheads who have quickly earned themselves a reputation of putting on a pretty fucking wild show. Not disappointing, the band took the stage in some pretty outrageous outfits, and of course, some impeccably applied red lipstick. Their antics managed to draw in a crowd within minutes of their set, and finished things off with crowd favourite I Wanna Be A Girl.
By now it was pretty hot and everyone was starting to build up the, so it was a perfect time for Bahamas, followed by Saskwatch to hit the stage. Both sets had a pretty laid back nature, and as more and more people were rolling into the field, there was now a sea of punters contently sitting listening to the sweet sounds of these bands.
No strangers to festival gigs, Gang Of Youths absolutely nailed their performance. There is really no other way to describe what they do on stage. I have seen them play a few times now, and every single time they deliver a beast of a set. The passion and humility that comes through seems to be the main reason they are a crowd favourite, with fans going ape shit when they dropped tracks like Poison Drum and Restraint and Release. Teamed with a stunning sunset behind the mountains, Gang Of Youths were one of the standouts of the weekend.
With the mosh getting thicker and sweatier, The Delta Riggs, another Aussie festival favourite, were up next and brought an energythat reverberated throughout just about the whole of Wollongong. Frontman Elliot Hammond brought the entire mosh to life with such virility he hardly stood still for two seconds. With fans pressed against the barricade trying to get a glimpse of what was the most upbeat set of the day, the Riggs certainly didn’t disappoint and had the vast majority of the field singing along to tracks like Bobby’s Flowers and Telescope House.
The Smith Street Band are a pretty big deal at the moment, but I have honestly never really listened to many of their tunes before. But after seeing them at Yours and Owls, this will definitely change. They delivered such a strong rock n roll energy, and despite the fact that their set was plagued by a couple of sound problems, none of which were the band’s fault, they still managed to put on a good show. Throwing down tracks like I Don’t Wanna Die Anymore and Young Drunk, The Smith Street Band showed Wollongong what a unique talent they are.
It was now totally dark and you could feel it was getting to the pointy end of the day. No one was willing to budge an inch in the mosh with their spots secured for the night. As The Preatures hit the stage, the excitement in the atmosphere was building, and it was pretty obvious they had big expectations to live up to. No strangers to putting on massive shows, they hit the ball out of the park with their performance.
Although there was still a slight sound problem with the bass being too loud and vocals not being loud enough, this was smoothed out throughout their set, and even though front woman Izzi Manfredi mentioned she was feeling “rough as guts,” it was impossible to fault her performance.
It has been a couple of years since Cloud Control have released Dream Cave, but they took everyone on a nice little trip down memory lane, building their energy throughout the entire set. When they played old favourites Promises and Scar, just about everyone in the crowd joined in, and I’m sure it could be heard throughout the whole of North Gong.
As the headline act, everyone was expecting pretty big things from The Rubens, and in true Rubens style, there was not one aspect of their set that could be faulted. They played old favourites like My Gun and The Best We Got, and finished the set off with brand new songs Hoops and Hallelujah. Each time they started a song, the crowd became more and more unruly.
Frontman Sam Margin somehow found the time towards the end of their set to crowd surf in an inflatable raft while showering the mosh in champagne, and in an even bigger surprise, gave a surfboard away to a fan in the crowd. With the energy and love that was exuding from punters, it was obvious that The Rubens were the best way to end a pretty perfect day.
Despite a couple of sound issues throughout the day, the fifth annual Yours and Owls Music and Arts Festival was a huge success. Each act delivered waves of energy that kept the oceanside Stuart Park alive with an undeniable party atmosphere. It’s always nice to see smaller locations and venues put on a festival that can match it with the biggest and best of them, so it’s safe to say that although this was my first Yours and Owls festival experience, it definitely won’t be my last.