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You Never Forget Your First [Music Festival]: Yours & Owls, an after-thought.

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by Kelsey Oke

It’s in the after math, the moments post-encore: the party people lingering the streets, lazily, peacefully— skin still humming with artistic satisfaction. Aside from one rowdy car driving down the midnight street, it is just quiet. Quiet appreciation for the night that brought us here. Even the small crowds gathered on lawns and motel terraces share only soft mumbles, speaking privately to one another, intimate in the lull of night.

And I am lingering lazily myself, drifting through this night like the warm early summer midnight breeze. It’s in the calm that has settled over this town, an after-effect blanket, warm in consensus that the show tonight was just right. Nothing to be upstaged or dragged carelessly through the streets. It was enough. It was fantastic.

Tonight we celebrated Yours & Owls 4th birthday party, and we did so in what I can only imagine to be true Wollongong style.

The truth is I can’t justify that style first hand, as I have only been living here in the Gong for the better part of four months. In addition to this handicap, I also can’t offer much when it comes to comparative voice in paralleling this music festival along side other music festivals, since this was in fact my first ever music festival.

I am just about the least qualified person to write this post.

But what I do have on my side is my ability to snag random work gigs (read: an offer from a handsome young man I dated). Through this handy trait did I secure a position behind the bar, getting paid a hefty hourly wage (by Canadian standards) to crack beers and swap smiles with the fine people of this cruisy beachside town.

So here is my view from the bar, a sober recount of the night’s festivities.

First of all, kudos to all of you party people who bought your tickets exactly two months in advance only to be denied access at the concert gates by some burley security guard explaining an over-sell, demanding a ‘one-out-one-in’ policy.

You were so excited. You’d had Sticky Fingers latest album on repeat all week. You’d woven your flower crowns & saved up your best daisy crop tops for this day and here was some guy killing your pre-party vibes telling you there was actually no guarantee you would eventually get in to listen to your favourite indie rock band and sway with your hipster counterparts and drink your seven dollar ciders.

But despite this I was never greeted without massive smiles, regardless of the additionally lengthy wait times just to reach the front of the bar (for a maximum of two-drinks-per-person restriction). You were all lovely! I thoroughly enjoyed every single interaction and repeat interaction and even sloppy interaction as the night went on; you were unwaveringly happy, forgiving, understanding, gorgeous people.

And for such, you were rewarded with a pretty outstanding artistic showcase of one of the biggest lineups of Aussie bands to ever hit a Wollongong festival. All of your patience and positivity was met with incredible tunes, unbelievable local food tents, ‘mind-altering art,’ reasonably impressive mosh-pitting, crowd surfing, and a handful of the ever tastefully dropped C-bombs.

If I can attempt some Aussie slang just for a moment here… it was sweet as.

And even if I only managed to sneak a grand total of maybe half an hour right in the heart of it all, this night will remain one of my favourites. Not only just to be apart of such a strong enthralling vibe, but to actually be in some ways responsible for it (or at least for fostering the merry-making) – it was such an honour.

And while some of the other bartenders (and security guards, event organisers, food vendors – the small handful of sober attendants) may have grown increasingly irritated by the escalating inebriation most of you exhibited, I found this to be rather endearing, wonderfully entertaining, and even somewhat charming (the young men of Wollongong certainly fancy themselves an eloquent [and chatty] bunch after Wild Turkey number 6).

To me, it only proved one simple fact: this birthday bash was a success.

Undeniably, the vast majority of you were blitzed. But you were also captivating. Enchanted. Transformed by the rhythms of the night, changing as the arvo turned to evening turned to night. And by the time those stars peeked through the early summer night sky, you were all ten feet off the ground anyway; floating, meeting them somewhere in the middle, as Sticky Fingers put it perfectly into words for us…

And the night would just go on an on

For the rest of my life

That memory will stay

Man fuck that was a good time

Image via Diam’s Club.


kelsey-picKelsey is living, working, dating, yoga-ing and attempting to surf her way through NSW, Kelsey is currently taking a brief hiatus from her international high school English teaching career. Born for leaving, there is no telling where she will be in 3 years or 6 months or next Tuesday. For this present, happy moment, she is here putting her heart and soul into writing about all of her various lives left around this planet. Follow the details of her worldly adventures on her blog, Twitter and Instagram.

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