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It’s been a busy time for me with this being the second festival for yours truly to attend up in NSW in just as many weeks but it has been well worth it. And what better way to be introduced to Wollongong than via the Yours & Owls festival. It’s been a while since I attended university so exploring the University of Wollongong was quite a novelty.
It was quite exciting to see the two-day program boasting a wide range of artists and genres from international indie pop artists Peach Pit to local hip-hop heroes Hilltop Hoods. The local talent didn’t stop there either as Pendulum, Ocean Alley, Golden Features, Dice, Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers, Rum Jungle, and Royel Otis were all in attendance.
Five stages rolled out acts like a well-oiled machine and the Owl stage boasted the most revered acts so it is where I camped out most. The Farm stage reflected a tad more chilled and communal vibe whereas the Rad stage blasted punk and alt-rock with a splash of hip-hop. Das Schmelthaus rounded out the five main stages, hosting hard-thumping house and dance DJs in two-hour sets. In between all this was a collection of smaller marquees, specialist branded bars, and an artists’ precinct where you could add your own little visual touch to the festival. The weather was spot on and all was in order for a great festival despite the nasty flies making it difficult early.
Day one kicked off with the soulful sounds of Masego who along with his three-piece band seamlessly switched between sax, drums, vocals, bass, and keys. Lil Tjay soon took to the stage and in contrast almost made my ears bleed thanks to his repetitive, shallow, and incoherent trap crap. Basically, anyone with Lil on their name is essentially garbage other than Lil Kim. Moving on…
The highlight of the day was without a doubt The Hilltop Hoods (who headlined last year). Fellow local legend Plutonic Lab handled the drums alongside a three-piece horn section and the crowd certainly came out to play bouncing to classics like The Nosebleed Section, Leave Me Lonely and Chase That Feeling. I actually managed to give MC Suffa a pat on the back in the VIP room where you could enjoy a variety of luxuries including food platters, massages, comfy seating, and its own little restaurant.
Vera Blue’s psychedelic dress woke me up on day two and so did her vocal range. Someone was annoying me during Earl Sweatshirt’s set so maybe I’m taking my agro out on poor Earl here but I found his performance a little average and pedestrian but then again so is most of his music .. eep.
Wollongong’s own Oliver Tree followed crowd favourite and highlight of the day Chet Faker who ebbed and flowed across upbeat and chilled tunes in the afternoon sun. Who to catch between Safia and Flight Facilities was a tough one to call as I loved both Safia’s LP Internal and pretty much everything I have heard from the latter. However, fate decided in the end as I sadly had to leave early due to some personal issues. Luckily I could faintly hear the festival from my cozy Airbnb.
Overall a great experience, the acts were curated well, the food was tasty (the Balinese deviled chicken was nosh) and the setup was easy to follow. If I was being picky, some lockers in the VIP area would have been nice (diva much?). I hope to see you again next year Yours & Owls.