Post Image
Gig ReviewsReviews

[Review] Yours and Owls Festival 2021

There were two live music festivals given the go-ahead for April in NSW. One was Yours and Owls, slated for April 17th and 18th and the other was Bluesfest, which was due to take place from the 1st to the 5th of April. Unfortunately due to a COVID-19 infection being recorded in Byron Bay right before Bluesfest was set to open, the whole event was canceled, breaking the hearts of artists and music lovers all over Australia’s east coast.

Enter Yours and Owls Festival, which would now be the first live music festival to take place since COVID-19. Under such immense pressure to deliver a fun, yet COVID safe event, organisers seemed to have taken the task in stride, and did not disappoint.

Image: Ruby Bowland

This was to be the first major event in NSW whereby attendees would not be restricted to a tiny section of the event or told off by COVID marshals for taking a sip of their drink on their way back to their friends from the bar.

Right from the moment you have your 2-day wristband secured to your arm as you enter, you can feel the daring anticipation in Wollongong’s crisp April air. The aura of excitement was palpable.

Amid a major worldwide pandemic, the majority of Australians wanted to do right by each other and stay home. Even though it meant missing out on those things like live music – things that we all once took for granted. Yet finally, over a year after the world went into lockdown, Yours and Owls were here to deliver what seemed near impossible.

Haiku Hands
Image: Jess Gleeson

From spotting huge breakout Instagram comedians The Inspired Unemployed enjoying the revelries, to basking in the feeling of bass thumping through your body again, those who were in attendance of NSW’s first big live music event of 2021 finally got to see the first glimpse of a new reality and the live entertainment industry post-COVID.   

In order for the festival to go ahead, the organisers had to get creative.

The festival was split into 4 zones– blue, peach, yellow and purple, each of which was fully self-contained. There were entry and exit points, bars, food trucks, merch stores, toilets and VIP areas. Each zone also had its own ‘Rad Stage’, a separate enclosed stage for those wanting to hang out with more of a more intimate gig vibe.

While it is a new concept, separating festival-goers into sections, it did make for much shorter lines, most noticeably at the bar. Even at the festivals busiest times, there was never more than a few people in line at a time.

The notably delicious variety of food trucks sat lined up along the outside perimeter of each section, ranging from Indonesian cuisine, loaded hot dogs, nachos and the much-loved chip on a stick.

As impressive as the set up and organisation of the festival had been so far, it was nothing compared to the remarkable caliber of Australian talent we were about to witness over the next two days.

The importance of showcasing Australian talent cannot be understated, and Yours And Owls did an impressive job of exhibiting the expansive and diverse musical talent this country has produced.

One of the highlights from earlier on in the first day was Indigenous Australian rapper and musician, JK-47. Having only emerged in 2020, his stage presence is that of a seasoned professional. At two separate times of his 40-minute set, he shared the stage with Nerve, a Brisbane rapper and the soulful Adrian Eagle, a singer-songwriter from Adelaide.

JK 47 Image: Ian Laidlaw

Clean, crisp vocals, allowing the substance of his lyrics to pour out through the delivery of his performance, making for a truly noteworthy performance.

Another Saturday highlight was the high-energy performance from punk rock band hailing from the bayside suburbs of Melbourne, CLOWNS. As the day grew later and the colour of the sky started to change, the crowds grew bigger and the grungy, underground sound of the band brought the vitality of the crowd way up. And in true punk rock fashion, lead singer Stevie Williams stopped through the performance to highlight his t-shirt, available for purchase, showing an illustration of Gladys Berejiklian with ‘a Pinger on her tongue’. Williams insisting that by denying pill testing at music festivals, our government is needlessly putting thousands of young people in danger.

As the second day turned into night, Melbourne’s Running Touch created a fantastic sonic environment with smoke machines and his unique electronic sounds, commanding the huge space he was given on stage by moving around effortlessly from keyboard to guitar and back again.

Haiku Hands, another stellar stand out from the 2-day event, are an all-girl 3 piece alt dance indie-pop band from Sydney and Melbourne who were more than happy to remind the audience what crowd surfing was. It would be a disservice to not mention the powerful energy that flooded from these artists.

Tones & I Image: Jess Gleeson

While Smith Street Band and The Vanns came through with such amazing performances, they were an unfortunate example of the downside to a COVID safe festival. Hosts Lucy Smith and Declan Byrne were given the unfortunate duty of stopping the show on more than one occasion throughout multiple acts and talking to the crowds in each four sections about moving back from the front where people were naturally gravitating towards. It was a huge disruption to the otherwise smooth flow of the lineup. Most notably, Winston Surfshirt was stopped so often that he lost 20 minutes of his 40 minute set to the cause.

 However, as NSW’s first major live music event of 2021 drew to a close with PNAU taking the stage, as the crowd danced along with them in the cold, pre-winter air, you couldn’t help but feel that despite the issues posed by putting on a festival post-COVID, Yours and Owls was just the beginning.

Read More
Post Image
Gig ReviewsReviews

[Review] Among The Restless @ Bendigo Hotel – 1/04/2021

It was a case of déjà vu as I made my way to the iconic Bendigo Hotel on April Fool’s Day, the last gig I reviewed pre Covid was Among The Restless and here I was the first gig back checking out these local Melbourne lads again. Launching their new single Wastecase.  I was certainly looking forward to some live music and seeing how the boys have grown in the past 12 months. Releasing music during the lockdown was no easy feat but Among The Restless have done this twice with two killer singles that have been extremely well received. Someone Else and Without You will have you instantly singing along, just good honest rock music with a twist of young musical blood pulsing though them. You can find them on all good streaming services, I recommend you give them a listen.

Cosa Nostra got the night started off right, another Melbourne outfit that is no bullshit rock and roll that will have your head banging from the first note. Headed up with Tony on vocals, he set the tone as he laid back and found his groove, his gravelly voice ripping out the tunes as Juz on lead and Ads on bass fill all the gaps. Rounding out this foursome is Rick on the drums, a hard hitter that complements the heaviness of their music. Josh from Among The Restless even made an appearance during Locked Forever belting it out on guitar while Tony sang through a megaphone which added a great depth to the song.  They pumped out a 45-minute set as the crowd started filing in, drawn by the rawness of their sound. Pub rock at its finest, Cosa Nostra always put on a great show and are a worthy addition to any lineup.

Red Peril filled the next slot as they opened their set with Do You Feel Like A Man, Shinae Demaj on vocals was next level from the last time I saw them play, her voice was strong and bold, holding the long notes with ease. I Don’t Mind, Weak and my favourite Dead Woman Walking were next up, Poul Ramage was blistering on lead guitar as they smashed through their set. Ethan Williams was behind the kit as they played Somebody and I Hold On To Hope, with Shinae belting it out, making the crowd pay attention with her controlled screams, she has an amazing voice and knows just how use it to her full advantage. Diamond In The Dirt saw the crowd started expanding, with rousing applause they jumped into Killing In The Name by Rage Against The Machine, which got the dancefloor jumping and had Shinae blasting out the f-bombs on auto-pilot. It even saw bass player Jesse Cole take a trip into the crowd getting amongst the action. A great song to finish out their set, another great Melbourne band to hit up and give a listen, you will not be disappointed.

The Among The Restless merch desk was a hive of activity as many jumped in to grab the new long sleeve Wastecase tee, featuring the song artwork on the back and song name down the sleeves they are a great addition to their range. It was great to see people repping them, merch is a terrific way to show your support to our local bands after what has been a really tough year.

The heat was really starting to rise as the punters started filling the bandroom, the floor was packed, everyone waiting in anticipation, ready to let loose and start the Easter long weekend off with a bang. Right on time the ATR boys took to the stage opening with their first single Someone Else, they have had plenty of time to perfect this one and singer Rhett James was flawless in his delivery, happily flipping the bird to the crowd as he belted it out. Josh Marra was slapping the bass to within an inch of its life keeping the notes down low pulsing out. Define showcases Lachie Dunn on guitar his shredding skills are exemplary, such a talented musician making the most complicated of riffs look easy. Up next a ripping cover of Dragon’s Rain kept the floor bouncing, and then single number two Without You which saw the smoke machines blowing and the girls crowding the front of the stage. Lachie jumped on to the acoustic for Growing Pains, this ballad gave the fans a minute to catch their breath before the boys leapt into a cover of the quintessential party song Monkey Wrench. This stirred up the pit and had the joint really jumping, everyone extremely grateful for the many fans dotted around the venue. 

Rhett announced that the next song Underground was being filmed for an upcoming music video and you could feel the excitement as the song started, everyone throwing themselves into it with gusto. Guitarist Seamus Glenn showcasing his musical style, playing with so much feeling it was almost dripping off him. Such a professional tight outfit, I cannot wait for you to hear this song it has hit written all over and I think it will be ‘the big one’ for ATR! Another new song followed, Slave Within The Change and let me tell you right now it will blow your hair back, the floor went crazy the mosh piping up, everyone revelling in the new tune.

Next up Needle from Aussie legends The Screaming Jets, a great cover to keep the fans jumping and it sure was getting hot onstage as Rhett ripped off his top and finished the set shirtless. Not that it seemed to worry the flurry of girls up front, they were mighty happy with this new development. The pit went up a notch and the crowd surfers started flowing over the top, great to see everyone really letting loose and enjoying themselves. The vibe on stage was awesome you could see these guys were having so much fun playing live, it really resonated to the crowd and made for such a great feel to the show. Rhett oozes charisma and worked the stage with a dynamic energy, encompassing his bandmates and including them in every bit of the show.

Wastecase, the song of the night was up next, their heaviest to date and one that brings Jaidyn Hale on the drums to the forefront.  His drumsticks an attachment of his body he is at one with his kit, his passion for his instrument is instantly obvious, he really is a pleasure to watch as he pounds the skins. Josh kept the baseline covered, this song is dark and heavy and the mix between the drums and the bass marry perfectly to create that feeling. Taking in the lyrics it is such a well-written song dealing with the tough subject matter and how we are being screwed over by the government. These boys are really thinking about what they are writing, no-nonsense lyrics, they are tackling the real issues and it is great to see. Wastecase deserves every success, it is a blistering song that will have you nodding in approval from the first listen. If you are yet to hear it, what are you waiting for!!

I thought that would see the night out but the rowdy punters had other ideas as chants of ‘Jai – dyn, Jai – dyn’ rang out, and he was more than happy to start a riot on his drumkit and burst into an ear-splitting solo that had the pit up and about incited by Seamus on guitar, giving the whirlpool motion with his hands to the crowd as they took collective deep breath and let fly just as the band burst into a cover of Bulls On Parade. The insanity level went to fever pitch as everyone lapped up the last minutes to go crazy. People were on shoulders and the mosh pit was a whole new kind of madness, but the smiles went for miles as the show came to a close, live music is back and we are damned happy about it.

While Covid may have killed our international musicians from touring it certainly hasn’t stopped our local talent from writing and performing brilliant music. If you do one thing, make it going to see a live show and supporting our Melbourne bands. They are working so bloody hard to keep the scene alive so cough up some of your hard-earned and buy the t-shirt or that ticket and go and have some fun!

If you suffer from FOMO then don’t delay, Among The Restless have lots of gigs on the radar, hit up their social pages to see where you can find them next. Big things are coming from these guys and if the Wastecase Single Launch was any indication It’s going to one wild ride!

Read More