Having never been to Sounds of the Suburbs before, I was a little sceptical about how a festival in a laneway would work but from the moment I entered the gates, any doubts I may have had were trampled by the boutique festival’s atmosphere. It was as if I had just stepped into another world, a crazy art-filled, free from judgement, all day party. The avant-garde outfits, music and art all combined to create one eccentric and exciting day.
With a stellar lineup, killer vibes and plenty of nachos on hand, Sounds of the Suburbs 2015 wasn’t just a festival, it was a shared artistic experience.
To help you understand a little better, the festival takes place in Wilbar Lane, Cronulla right next to the independent art gallery Space 44 and extends back to an underground car park. The space may be limited but it’s certainly used well. The car park was home for a day to live art, merch, a hangout space and opportunities for printed photo strips, and 22 acts were spread across three stages, one close to the entrance, in front of Space 44, another in the laneway and the third stage inside the onsite Mexican restaurant El Sol, which added a really unique element to the event.
Zefereli, the solo project from The Cairos lead singer Alistair Richardson, was the first to hit the Lane Stage, with the scattered crowd nodding their heads to tracks like Once In A While. Over to the Space Stage and Illawarra psycho punk rockers The Pinheads dominated the stage – and the festival – with their insanely energetic and peculiar set. The seven piece band were loud and unpredictable as their set ranged from members of the band jumping up and climbing buildings to the lead singer hiding in a (thankfully empty) garbage bin in the crowd; switch back to the stage and someone is stripping down to their underwear. Their set was full of energy as audience members were fascinated by their weirdness which brought the songs alive. Their debut single I Wanna Be a Girl was a crowd favourite; everyone was lost in a manic trance.
Sydney four-piece Letters to Lions resembled a more laid back version of Two Door Cinema Club with their recently released track Following taking flight early as the crowd wandered closer to get a better listen. California garage rockers White Fang brought a punk and grunge element to the festival, impressing the building audience. The band reassembled later in the night on the Lane Stage to play as The Memories, a much calmer folk rock outfit compared to White Fang. The range of their talent impressed punters as many had to look at the stage twice before realising the band members looked familiar. Both sets were a highlight of the day.
The Garden, also from California, reiterated the punk energy as twin brothers Wyatt and Fletcher Shears played tunes from their upcoming album haha, set for release later this month. Their set was exciting, weird and everything the crowd needed to hear as the day crawled on and the lane swelled. Hitting the stage in the late afternoon, Drunk Mums’ crowd filled the Wilbur Lane almost to the back, with crowd surfers going wild. The Melbourne pub rockers smashed out tracks like Pub On My Own and Plastic to which punters responded their approval by raising their many, many plastic cups.
Coming off the back of winning triple J Unearthed Splendour spot and signing to Rat Bag Records, Byron Bay three-piece Skegss had an intense and energetic crowd to party with at Sounds of The Suburbs. Cigarettes, plastic cups, sweat and shoes were left on the Space Stage after Skegss departed. Punters went crazy for the unique sound that fans have come to love, so much so that security guards had to step in before the speakers were pushed over. Skegss responded to the security guards interaction with the crowd by saying “C’mon it’s just a bit of fun,” before launching into the crowd. No one wanted their set to end. Except maybe the security guards.
Sydney garage fuzz band Food Court brought their all to the El Sol stage. What’s better than eating nachos and dancing around to Food Court? The fans would have answered nothing, because they looked pretty damn satisfied. Citizen Kay was the last artist to grace the Mexican restaurant stage and he made sure his set made an impact on everyone’s night. Holy Holy provided the festival goers with a different sound to finish the night, their alternative rock tracks reaching out to those lingering around the laneway.
The day showcased local talent in all fields, with live art installations, local bands and even the onsite Mexican restaurant and Space44 gallery giving their all. The international acts on the bill were incredibly impressive and all the locals added to the authentic and creative vibe that the festival is becoming fast renowned for. Discovery is one of Sounds of The Suburbs’ greatest strengths. It’s a festival not to miss – a celebration of creativity in all its forms.