Yours & Owls @ Stuart Park 01-02/10/16

First seen on AMNplify!

Back for its third annual run, Yours & Owls Festival really stepped up its game, delivering 40 artists across two stages last weekend. With the backdrops of the Illawarra escarpment and North Wollongong beach, Stuart Park was no doubt one of the most luxurious festival locations in NSW, maybe even Australia.

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Yours and owls

Yours & Owls | Britt Andrews

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The focus of course wasn’t just on music. There was a huge range of food and retail stalls, several art installations, a projector tent for a live screening of both footy finals, the charity Project Forever markets and a panopticon rave prison. When Foucault makes an appearance at a festival, you know there’s something truly unique happening.


DAY ONE


Saturday dawned with heavy winds and a clear sky. The vibe was relaxed with people camped out across picnic blankets in front of both stages, bevvies in hand and sunnies firmly in place. Nicole Millar took to the main stage after a short delay in shimmering rose pink velvet outfit, kicking over her wine during the first track and joking the audience were probably having a better day than her. It was the slow, drum-heavy extended intro to High, her collab with Peking Duk, that drew the crowd over like moths to a flame.

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Tired Lion

Tired Lion @ Yours & Owls | Britt Andrews

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Over at the Jeb Taylor stage, Tired Lion was setting a precedent for the weekend’s lineup and its interest in female musicians. The sound of some solid rock vibes caught my attention and I was delighted to find a grungy female vocalist on stage, backed by three blokes shredding to a refrain of “you’re not my friends” – something we can all relate to. All-girl band Stonefield followed them with the unusual phenomenon of a dual drummer and lead vocals. The balance between rhythm and melody were impeccable; this band was in sync from start to finish. Highlight for me was the thrilling guitar riffs of Love You Deserve.

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After a false start involving an unresponsive mic, Thelma Plum graced us with the most awkwardly gorgeous request for clapping on the tap-heavy, upbeat rhythms of her track Dollar. She also debuted the cutest track: telling us it was about her love of sitting in bed eating ice cream from the tub while her mother asked if it was an innuendo for something…more. Around Here’s fierce refrain of “fuck you” closed out the set, sufficiently erasing everyone’s memory of the sound snafu that kicked it off.

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Thelma Plum

Thelma PLum @ Yours & Owls | Britt Andrews

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Kilter gave the crowd the perfect excuse to get moving and shake off the shivers from that chilling wind. Producer Ned East pulled together pre-recorded samples with live steel drumming for popular tracks such as Fool for You. Regular live addition Tim Lockwood on guitars and Cam Nacson who recorded the vocals for They Don’t Know Us joined Ned on stage, making the set so much more than an EDM DJ. The combination of old and new music-producing technology really struck a chord in the festival audience.

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Client Liaison, less Tom Tilley, showed us what choreographed dance and gradual on-stage stripping looked like when paired to heavy 80s influences. The band’s buckets of energy made their set worth having a good little boogie in the pit. They even debuted a song from their forthcoming album, Canberra Won’t Be Calling Tonight, which went over fantastically with the crowd.

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Hockey Dad

Hockey Dad @ Yours & Owls | Britt Andrews

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Two piece band, Hockey Dad showed us how much quality sound a pair of laid-back surfer dudes can produce. There was nothing but sunny disposition and rolling tides in their set. International 60s band The Sonics followed with their birth-of-garage rock origins simultaneously surprising and wowing the crowd. Every band needs a saxophone mixed in with their raucous rock racket. The six men in their matching suits made an incredible impression on Yours & Owls. Dare I say it; they were the MVP of day one.

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The Jezabels cancelled their January tour in support of keyboardist Heather Shannon’s ongoing ovarian cancer treatment. Consequently, their appearance on the main stage was highly anticipated ahead of their forthcoming national tour. A cross-section of songs from their early EPs (Mace Spray and Hurt Me are absolute personal favourites) through to tracks from Synthia, the album that dropped earlier this year, were part of their set. Hayley Mary created an ethereal feeling in the crowd, with her echoing voice and the majesty of rhythms and melodies from the rest of the band. The feeling was a stasis that seemed to have no beginning, middle or end.

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COG

COG @ Yours & Owls | Britt Andrews

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Recently reforming after a six-year break, Australian prog rock band, COG is back better than ever. They took the Jeb Taylor stage by storm, well and truly in sync with a headlining national tour under their belt. There’s a fine line between riding nostalgia and reinvigorating old music in way that excites fans for what’s to come. Cog definitely achieved the latter, closing out Yours & Owls day one with a definitive sound for the heavy music fans.


DAY TWO


Sunday was thankfully 5°C warmer and considerably less windy. It was a day for some serious sun awareness on top of an already fiery lineup. Stuart Park filled up much faster without Listen Out in Sydney to divert music-lovers’ attentions elsewhere. Apparently they were 100 tickets shy of reaching the venue’s 5000-person capacity. Day two of Yours & Owls was sure to be a hit.

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The Hard Aches

The Hard Aches @ Yours & Owls | Britt Andrews

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All quirky guitar riffs and swaggering vocals, Bec Sandridge began with fan favourite You’re a Fucking Joke. Elsewhere, The Hard Aches were busy proving how a two-piece punk band can take up as much stage space as possible while rallying an enthusiastic crowd. With anthem hits I Get Like This and Glad That You’re Gone, The Hard Aches backed up the precedent set by Hockey Dad the day before. Two-piece punk bands are the secret to an excellent festival lineup, evidently.

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Excuse the French, but Totally Unicorn was a clusterfuck of shirtless men, circle pits and confetti cannons that needs to be seen live to be believed. If they were playing music, it was lost on the crowd in the face of the riot act that was playing out in the pit. Vocalist Drew Gardner at one point turned his mic cord into a four-person jump rope, and another point balanced his sizeable belly on a speaker stack and mimed going for a swim. Lead guitarist crowdsurfed amidst a shower of confetti and you weren’t there if you didn’t see some nutsack because my god was it on display.

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Totally Unicorn

Totally Unicorn @ Yours & Owls | Britt Andrews

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In direct contrast to this, Little May were the third victim to the main stage sound techs. Poor Liz screamed in frustration when she realised no one else could hear her guitar through the in-ear comms, made all the worse since she begins most of their songs. The adrenaline from playing under that kind of stress pushed them to really perform under pressure. With the crowd behind them, they smashed out such hits as Hide and their Icehouse cover, Great Southern Land to great reception.

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Celia Pavey as Vera Blue followed, drawing a crowd very quickly with a set full of atmospheric and chill tracks. Highlights include her Triple J Like a Version cover of Jack Garratt’s Breathe Life and her set-closer and first single, Hold. Celia also debuted a new track called Private, which went over wonderfully.

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Vera Blue

Vera Blue @ Yours & Owls | Britt Andrews

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Dumb but fun with garage punk rock songs about getting high, Skegss’ set was all about feel good vibes and a little bit of overexcited-ness. They were so laid back as to be incomprehensible when speaking directly to the crowd – although every lyric was adequately enunciated. These surfer dudes spread positivity through an audience with every raggedy jingle jangle.

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The festival piqued when rapper Tkay Maidza took the main stage. Hermitude gave her a run for the biggest most enthusiastic crowd, but there was something about how the petite girl with a mane of hair commanded her crowd with a charming array of delight and authority. She was really something to behold on-stage, always moving, vocals on point. M.O.B had even the hardiest of metalheads bouncing about with sheer glee. Meanwhile Bleached contributed another awesome punk girl band to the trend over at the Jeb Taylor stage.

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Tkay Maidza

Tkay Maidza @ Yours & Owls | Britt Andrews

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DMA’s have been making a name for themselves across the world with consistently tight sets with flowing Britpop. While it may not change up all that often, on the main stage at Yours & Owls it was like someone lit a fire under their feet: they made incredibly good use of the space, moving around and energetically bopping. With reverb heavy vocals, it was hard to mess with their cheerfully contained tracks.

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Briefly nipping over to Jeb Taylor to check out the highly recommended Canadian rockers PUP did not disappoint. With intricate basslines, shouty vocals and oodles of guitar-shredding and drum-thrashing, the international performers ignited the crowd once more just in time for The Living End.

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The Living End

The Living End @ Yours & Owls | Britt Andrews

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The Aussie rock legends of the 90s came on totally jazzed, pun intended due to their iconic double bass climbing antics. Frontman Chris Cheney had been having some vocal troubles, going so far as to explain how his doctor had advised him to rest. While that showed as the set progressed, it failed to stop them from absolutely slamming out hit after hit. Cheney’s Gretsh guitar mingled with the double bass tones, making the perfect rockabilly sound for Prisoner of Society and White Noise to turn the pit into a riot. What a buzzing way to end such a diverse weekend.

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Yours & Owls has showed how local festivals have nothing but growth and expansion in the cards. In the tranquil setting of Wollongong, there was no better place to kick back for a weekend of tunes, with something for everyone both musically, and in terms of art and edibles. We can’t wait to see what 2017 brings!
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Check out Britt Andrews’ galleries!

Day One

Day Two


Connect with Yours & Owls

Official WebsiteFacebook – Twitter Instagram


Full Line-Up:

Day One

White Blanks / Shining Bird / KLP / Nicole Millar / Tired Lion / Thelma Plum / Stonefield / Remi / Antwon / Kilter / Sampa The Great / Client Liaison / Hockey Dad / Ladyhawke / The Sonics / The Jezabels / Cog / Ball Park Music

Day Two

Pagan / Horror My Friend / The Pinheads / Bec Sandridge / The Hard Aches / The Belligerents / Totally Unicorn / Little May / Chastity Belt / Vera Blue / The Coathangers / Big Scary / Skegss / Tkay Maidza / Bleached / DMA’s / PUP / The Living End / Black Mountain / Hermitude

AMNPLIFY – RL

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