Just to clarify, UBERfest isn’t a festival dedicated to everybody’s favourite taxi alternative. We understand the possibility for confusion though. The Uber driver who dropped me off at The Lewisham Hotel last weekend was one such confused fellow. “Uber is hosting a music festival? Can I get in for free?” he eagerly asked. As bizarre, and for that matter intriguing., an Uber curated music festival would be, this was not the case. This was UBERfest, a celebration of independent Australian music.
Intent on showing off the best up and coming bands, UBERfest kicked on in good form at Sydney’s Lewisham Hotel. Beers and live music, a Saturday well spent.
Looking at the bill for UBERfest may prove to be a little disheartening for the casual punter. The bands are mostly small with little name recognition. Yet this is what the festival is all about; giving these up and comers a platform to show off what they’ve got and work towards sustaining themselves as working musicians. The day is packed out with a plethora of musos, the event kicking off after midday and continuing well into the night. The Lewisham Hotel is the perfect venue for an event like this, the two stages far apart so there’s no noise pollution but still close enough to allow you to wander between the two to catch as many acts as you can.
With a beer nice and frosty it’s time to discover some new music. UBERfest boasts an eclectic bill, with acts ranging from punk, folk, hip-hop and metal on display. Remember collecting those Dragon Ball Z tazos from Smiths Chips back in the day? You wouldn’t know what you were gonna get but regardless you knew it was gonna be tasty. It’s pretty ballsy to put on an event with such a diverse lot of bands playing, but it worked out for the best managing to draw a decent crowd of like minded music fans.
Sydney locals Dark Raven were one of the early standouts, the band a three piece punk party machine. Their bassist had broken his knee cap and one of fingers but he was still strutting his stuff as the boys blistered through a set of washed out riffs and frantic vocals. Meanwhile over at the back stage hard rock dudes Stormbird were setting the mood for the many heavier bands for the night, those ambient guitar tones very nostalgic for anyone who frothed over bands like The Butterfly Effect way back when.
On hand to keep the vibes festive between the short change overs were local radio duo Willem Hendriksen and Roger Kidd, owning every bad pun on stage like real pros. Another local Sydney trio Ambularae delivered a killer set, the youngsters performing a set comprised mostly of instrumental songs. Their intricate melodies were spot on, though at times it felt they were a little shy of the audience and preferred to stare at their instruments. Math rock, it is what it is. Meanwhile back up the front at the Young Henry’s stage Sarahkills is making a ruckus with their funk inspired punk tunes. It’s only a shame the sound guy wasn’t quite up to task, the vocals buried in the mix of all the fervent playing.
The sound guy at the back stage is far more adept, delivering some quality work as bands like Seasons, The Kids Don’t Like It and Fifth Dawn lay down some killer rock jams. However the band who earns the Happy ‘Ones to Watch’ award is Warilla foursome Ugly Mundays. The long haired youths have only been playing together for a year, but they were sounding fucking tight. Well, as tight as grunge can be. If you love bands like Dune Rats and fellow Illawarra larrikins Hockey Dad these dudes are right up your alley. The vocals are a throaty mess, the guitars are permanently locked in a storm of distortion and the bass is just a badass.
Sydney’s UBERfest made for a day well spent. With a slew of different bands to soak in, plenty of beer on hand and like-minded folk who were just keen music fans it provided a good atmosphere for a chilled Saturday. If you’re around Melbourne this weekend then be sure to pop your head into the Elephant and Wheelbarrow in St Kilda as UBERfest makes its final stop on its winter tour.