[Gig Review] Yours and Owls Festival @ Stuart Park, Wollongong September 29-30

Review by Rory McCartney

Wollongong turned on another outstanding YOURS AND OWLS FESTIVAL with the forecast showers staying away and a large and varied selection of bands on offer.

Beginning with The Tin Knees on Saturday, The Rad Stage was again a highlight venue, with lots of unfamiliar local bands to catch up on. Performance quality varied, but it was always a fun show, with dedicated band followers always providing an enthusiastic reception.

The Rad Stage saw some of the liveliest crowd action; during the set from punk rockers Space Boys front man Vaughan McCreanor spent a good part of the time in the crowd.

Canberra band Moaning Lisa, who have been making a strong festival presence this year, got a rave response from a packed Rad Stage late on Saturday.

Hip hop took a back seat at this year’s festival, with producers strongly represented on the main ‘Jung’ Stage. However, the knob twiddling and occasional whacking of rubber pads with drumsticks left me cold. Guitars were often employed, but sometimes appeared to be more of a fashion accessory than an actual musical instrument.

The one act which did elevate the blood pressure through the combination of synthesizers and guitars was female duo Mezko. Their danceable rhythms really got under the skin.

Yours and Owls again included some bizarre acts, including punk-electronica act Liars, with vocalist Angus Andrew totally enveloped in a huge bridal veil and skirt.

Metalcore rockers Polaris created one of the biggest frenzies of the festival, with fans eagerly responding to vocalist Jamie Hails’ demands for circle work and a huge wall of death.

Current punter favourites Middle Kids, Jack River and Alex the Astronaut all gave great sets. However, some of the best surprises came from New York all-female rockers Boy Toy and up and comers Press Club. With dynamic singer Natalie Foster out front, they are a band to watch.

While the non-appearance of DD Dumbo was a disappointment, the replacement act Sarah Blasko was a festival highlight. While many younger performers were full of energy and passion, only Blasko really projected her emotions through gesture and expression.

Another festival highlight was the return of local Gong heroes Tumbleweed, who closed the ‘And the Restless’ stage on Sunday night with a full rocking set which included their 1994 Hottest 100 entry ‘Daddy Longlegs’.

One downside to the show was the revised festival layout which resulted in punters having to negotiate a long corridor between the main stages during band changes. With queues for portaloos on one side and eateries on the other, moving quickly between stages was sometimes a problem.

However, having to push through the queue for BBQ buns was a minor issue. Yours and Owls is a great festival, providing an extensive list of big name, up-and-coming, and South Coast bands that is within easy striking distance of Canberra.

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