Travelling all the way across the nation, we headed to Wollongong’s Yours & Owls Festival 2018 with the highest of hopes. Little did we know that over the course of the two-day festival, we would find that many others had ventured in from other states (and even countries!) to get their share of a heavenly weekend.
Returning for another year with a promising Australian line-up, this year’s triple j supported music festival had been left completely sold out with the entirety of Wollongong’s accommodation booked to the brim. Despite the Perth-ian difficulties associated with getting there, the festival did not disappoint — especially with its beachside venue at the idyllic Stuart Park.
There are few and far festivals that strike the perfect balance of being genuinely fun and well-organised — let alone are there many that care to adopt conscious strategies for good old Mother Earth. This year’s Yours & Owl Festival took on a commendable approach to go plastic-free and partner with the Wollongong City Council for a tree-planting initiative. As well as that, there were compostable and reusable alternatives replacing what would’ve otherwise been 15,000 single-use plastic items. (Think cutlery, takeaway food containers and even cups!)
Not only did organisers set an incredible benchmark in this way, but they also provided many other innovative attractions. A free STI testing tent was amongst these, which rewarded participants with free bioglitter and phone charging stations. From providing an array of food markets (and ample portaloos) to letting footy fans watch the Grand Final, it seemed that Yours & Owls had kept their patrons well in mind.
Donning festival glitter, Mallrat emerged with her track ‘Inside Voices’ followed by the catchy ‘Bunny Island’. Whilst festival-goers sang along happily (and loudly) to her songs, her performance was very much lacking in energy. The Brisbane singer appeared to be quite tired and hence refrained from unleashing her well-known dance moves. All in all, this made for a rather flat and placid performance.
The set eventually picked up with Melbourne singer-songwriter Tyne-James Organ joining in for a famously executed cover of Outkast’s ‘Hey Ya’. With her hits such as ‘Groceries’, ‘UFO’ and ‘Uninvited’ wrapping up her set, plenty of feels were still extracted alongside devoted sing-alongs from fans.
PSYCHEDELIC PORN CRUMPETS
On a completely different note, the Perth boys smashed out a fiery set. What was most satisfying was seeing how the Perth band was able to attract such a wonderfully rambunctious crowd. To put it simply, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets were one of the many WA acts that outdid themselves at the festival.
Playing at the peak of golden hour was Middle Kids on the main stage. The Sydney trio began with ‘Fire In Your Eyes’ and of course, had to deliver their triple j hit ‘Mistakes’ from their debut album. As the sun set magically, the band rose to the occasion with their thunderous instrumentals, giving the growing audience a sure taste of their live talent.
Brandishing a bejewelled guitar and equally pleasing athleisure wear was Touch Sensitive. Despite a slow start, the electronic suit quickly picked up the speed by unleashing ‘Veronica’. Packed with disco-worthy vibes and 80’s synths, songs such as ‘No Other High’ and ‘Pizza Guy’ were the perfect pick-me-ups. After throwing in an unexpected remix of ‘Downtown Shutdown’, hit single ‘Lay Down’ got everyone dancing all over again.
The only drawback? That volume could have been cranked up just a little bit higher.
Ocean Alley delivered one of the strongest performances of the day. They started with an energetic ‘Bones’ and continued into ‘On My Knees’, which was thoroughly enjoyed by festival-goers. Their visuals, timing and overall delivery were well appreciated, and it was no wonder that there was a significant crowd keen to push in and get a slice of their performance. The soulful band concluded their set with their strong hit ‘Confidence’, which commanded widespread energy and gratitude from the audience.
THE JUNGLE GIANTS
The universally loved Giants were met with roars of approval as they opened with ‘On Your Way Down’ followed by a classic, ‘She’s A Riot’. Right from the get-go, it was a guaranteed good time with lead vocalist Sam declaring the festival as one with a heck of a ‘delicious vibe’. Between jam sessions and beer breaks, The Jungle Giants heated things up with infectious tracks such as ‘You’ve Got Something’ and ‘I Am What You Want Me To Be’ — alongside select Quiet Ferocity tracks. ‘Feel The Way I Do’ was the perfect ending song the audience on a high.
If there’s anything that had proved, it was that they had earned their reputation as a music festival staple.
After a cryptic intro, ending act Peking Duk had no hesitation in launching into their hit ‘Wasted’. It was getting late, and there was no time to waste. Fireworks burst into the starry sky to the tune of ‘Fire’, and it was clear to all that they were there to deliver an explosive set.
“Are you ready to get sweaty?!” yelled the boys. While everyone was well beyond freezing at that point, Peking Duk somehow managed to conjure up exactly that; one burning hot set. Alongside guest vocals, the duo performed their most acclaimed tracks. By the time they had got around to playing ‘Let You Down’, Peking Duk had already positively delivered the final blow for day one.
Folk musician Didirri, who recently played alongside Vance Joy, delivered a pleasant and engaging set in the early afternoon. His volume and calming voice carried well throughout the venue, pairing well with the breezy coastal setting. Better known tracks ‘Jude’ and ‘I Can’t Get Last Night Out Of My Head’ brought a sense of familiarity to listeners, who were just getting started with their day.
Gracing the festival later on in the day was Cub Sport’s angelic performance. Clad head to toe in white, lead singer Tim Nelson made his ethereal presence known — with lights surrounding him in an incredible glow. All that was truly missing was a pair of angel wings. It seemed only fitting for him to start the set off with ‘O Lord’.
Instead of going back to old roots, the set favoured new material from their Bats record and debut album This Is Our Vice. Nonetheless, tears were streaming down fans’ faces, with Cub Sport taking a moment to share their message of love. The newlyweds Tim and Sam (on keys) paid tribute to one another, belting out ‘Look After Me’ with raw emotion.
After spoiling the audience with their unreleased single ‘Sometimes’ (due to come out this Friday), the band took it way back to their triple j Like A Version rendition of Kanye’s ‘Ultralight Beam’. Of course, who could forget Zoe’s killer guitar solo to top it all off?
The music of Perth-grown Methyl Ethel could almost be described as one big mesmerising murmur. Although the crowd may have gotten lost in lesser well-known songs such as ‘Groundswell’ and ‘L'heure des Sorcières’, they quickly tuned into ‘Idée Fixe’, ‘Twilight Driving’ and of course — the unforgettable ‘Ubu’. The trio wrapped up their show with a loved classic ‘Drink Wine’ — which, undoubtedly, urged many festival-goers to do just that.
ANGUS AND JULIA STONE
To say the least, Angus and Julia Stone gave an interesting performance. They were mellow and smooth, with a significant amount of instrumentals amongst their set. Oddly enough, the majority of the music was either comprised of instrumentals or performed separately by the siblings as individual musicians. Angus performed ‘Marinade’ from his solo project Dope Lemon, whilst Julia performed several songs from her own individual albums.
The songs they played as a duo, however, were incredibly engaging. ‘Private Lawns’, as always, was upbeat and groovy — while ‘Snow’ and ‘Chateau’ were wonderfully reminiscent, lulling the audience into an emotional heap.
As the final headline act for Yours & Owl Festival 2018, Alison Wonderland emerged with looming stage visuals, providing a stark contrast to the previous upbeat and positive imagery of former acts. The internationally renowned Sydney producer played an interesting round of remixes — including that of ‘Better Now’ by Post Malone, ‘The Buzz’ by Hermitude and ‘Cinema’ by Skrillex — before letting the audience go wild for her originals.
Although the transitions between certain remixes fell short, Alison’s own works such as ‘Church’ and ‘I Want You’ were swallowed up immediately. As she remarked from the stage, “It’s nice to be back home,” — although many would agree that they too felt at home, no matter where they had hailed from.