Around 14,000 punters flooded through the gates of Yours and Owls festival last Saturday to experience the first major music festival in NSW since the start of the pandemic. The first thing you notice when entering is the festival set up, looking a little different to previous years the festival divided the audience into four separate zones while the bands played on two rotating stages. This enabled patrons to see the acts from different vantage points. There were plastic white chairs galore where the audience could dance in their aisles. Not bad for our first festival in what seems like forever.
The Rad stage is the secret gem of Yours and Owls showcasing aussie talent. We kicked off the fun with Tired Girl, a locally grown act hailing from Illawarra, NSW. She took us on a smooth journey through dreamland with her electronic, pop sounds. This esoteric character is sure to have you enraptured by her style. Her melodic tunes had the audience bobbing and swaying their bodies.
The Smith Street Band ramped things up on the Owls Stage causing a wave of enthusiasm from the audience. These guys and gals know how to tear up a stage and they got the audience singing along to “Young Drunk”. The Smithies always put on a great show and unite the audience in a special way.
Next I headed back to The Rad stage to check out up and coming singer songwriter Adam Newling. He captures a raw and honest feeling with growing vocals and killer guitar riffs. Great for listening to while you’re on the road. With songs like “California on Fire” definitely worth a listen.
A highlight for me was Dope Lemon playing many Splendour in the Grass Festivals he brought his amazing epic mellow guitar sounds to the stage. A cinematic soundscape heralds this artist on the stage as he breaks into song. He appears in a dapper pin striped jacket and blows the crowd away. His rustic voice ringing through Stuart Park. Winston Surshirt joined his mate on stage for a spectacular performance of “Everyday is a Holiday”.
DMA’s performed on the Yours stage, so I sat on the grass and enjoyed my chip on a stick while soaking up one of my favourite bands performing their classics. They bring it everytime and every song is familiar. Singalongs to “Delete” and “In the Air” had the whole crowd in a trance. The lead singer of the DMA’s Tommy O’Dell’s smooth vocals cast a spell and Yours and Owls was all theirs.
Following the DMA’s with a 10 minute gap was the glorious Tones and I. Greeting the audience with her choir dressed in black and white robes. They really supported this artist in a captivating performance. She had all the moves, jumping around the stage and revving up the audience to a beautiful climatic ending to the first day. Everyone had their chance to dance and get down to “Never Seen the Rain” and all her chart topping tunes.
The night ended with a fireworks display that lit up the sky full of colour. What a breathtaking way to end the first day of artists.
The sun warmed up Stuart Park as dusty patrons made their way into the festival for round two. The Owls stage was set to feature some heavy beats and rock fever and the audience seemed ready to go.
With a dedicated intimate crowd showing up for Greta Stanley. The 23 year old graced the Owls Stage with her soaring vocals connecting the audience to her emotional lyrics. This Indie Pop Queen is sure to steal your heart with her songs inspired by her experiences growing up in Far North Queensland. Songs like “Kick” and “Soak into this” left my ears wanting more. I can’t wait to hear more from this promising star and see who she collaborates with.
For a change of pace Yours Truly blasted on the scene with their explosive guitar riffs and dynamic sound. Led by the unstoppable Mikaila Delgado, this Sydney based band is one to see live. Mikaila got tangled in her microphone cord amping up the crowd on the revolving stage. Her high kicks got the people jumping and we saw our first COVID safe festival mosh pit.
I was super excited to see Stand Atlantic tear up the stage but unfortunately they didn’t play. So I wandered over to the food stalls to pick up some delicious Mi Goreng from Nani’s Food Truck. This was a great feed and way better than the packets of Mi Goreng I lived off during my early 20s. I sat back and relaxed as they did a shout out to all the mullets in the crowd (I’ve recently grown mine out). I watched as two piece zebra prints and Bunnings costumes strutted their stuff on the festival grounds.
Running Touch got the crowd moving with his electronica sounds and synthetic beats. His elegant mixing of genres makes for a reintroduction to dance music. “My Hands” and “When I’m Around You” are numbers you can’t help but dance to. Running Touch finished off their set with everyone grooving in the sunset.
Next up Hockey Dad on the Owls Stage serves up some pop punk vibes and naturally sing a longs. With bouncy tunes such as “Join the Club” and “I Need a Woman” it was a joy to be a part of the audience.
Over to the Rad Tent providing mega groove hits was Big Twisty and The Funk Nasty. I was so glad I got into the tent when I did for these guys because they packed out the Rad Tent fast. Jamming to funk, soul, hip hop is one of my favourite pastimes so it was an absolute pleasure being there for this incredible 8 piece act.
Aussie DJ, songwriter and record producer Hayden James led us on a journey through his best. He got the crowd pumping at Splendour 2019 and came to Wollongong to equally blow us away. An excellent way to end the two day extravaganza.
The hosts did a fantastic job at keeping everyone COVID safe and the festival running with regular announcements. “Dance Wize NSW” tent was also set up keeping the crowd safe with check ups. The event was well organised and Yours and Owls 2021 was the first successful festival in NSW since the beginning of 2020. Let’s hope this is just the start of the festival scene returning to NSW.