We felt so privileged to be celebrating 30 years of one the most awarded music festivals in Australian show business, and we weren’t alone. This epic festival was attended by more than 105,000 people, 88 artists, 900 volunteers and 2000 staff. All credit to the organisers, because boy was this a special one.
Spanning over five days and five stages it’s hard to know where to begin. So I’ll start with the atmosphere, because this is something that I always find so unique to Bluesfest, and I can’t go past it without commenting on why…
I’ve been to many festivals, but never have I felt such a welcoming atmosphere from the attendees and organisers. Bluesfest caters for everyone and does it with warmth and openness. From millennials and families to kids and grandparents, you can chill out or rock out – no one is alienated here. There is not one ounce of arrogance in the air and it always feels so safe. I’ve never taken my daughter to any other festival, as for me she is just too young, but Bluesfest is really like no other and she was so eager to go.
Whilst there were some torrential rainstorms at the start of the weekend, it certainly didn’t dampen the spirits (helped of course by the craft beer and yummy local food). Talking of which, I ate Byron Bay Organic Donuts for dinner three days in a row, but when in Rome and all that jazz!
I could honestly be here for days trying to fit in the highlights of my favourites. Of course, it’s all subjective but here’s what is etched in my mind…
You know that feeling when you watch an artist you’ve always loved, and then they deliver a performance that absolutely nails all of your expectations and some? Well, that’s exactly what David Gray did for the huge audience that gathered to hang on every word. There wasn’t one person who didn’t join in to sing ‘Sail Away’ and I couldn’t stop beaming. David Gray still appears humble as he nods his head from side to side and sings his classics from all those years ago. Forever I will remember this performance.
Yet again another artist whose voice did not let anyone down. Hozier’s tone kept you engaged for the tracks that you didn’t know and then boom ‘Take Me To Church’. Need I say more! Image of Hozier by Lucinda Goodwin.
Yothu Yindi & The Boomerang Festival
Cultural inclusion is a critical part of this festival and every performance is delivered with absolute style and big energy. I challenge anyone not to dance to the uplifting dance beats of Yothu Yindi – the perfect build-up to Boomerang Festival. Boomerang is the initiative of Festival Director’s Peter Noble and Rhoda Roberts, who said that “Boomerang had a spirit this year that resonated across the Bluesfest site, from the eclectic line up of First Nations music, to the dance, story, and workshops. There truly was something for everyone”. And they were so right. From seriously talented hip hop artists through to traditional and contemporary indigenous dance, everyone that stood to watch was captivated.
He may have been celebrating his 72nd birthday on the day he performed, but there was very little evidence of a man in his 70’s. I’m not sure anyone in the crowd could keep up with this legend. He certainly gave everyone, young and old, a good lesson in rocking out! I’ve seen Iggy a few times and he never shows signs of losing his edge. Iggy’s supersonic body with lines that hide a multitude of stories was ironically draped with a cape as he flew across the stage and down into the pit. He was a photographer’s dream and the audience’s hero. Image of Iggy by Lucinda Goodwin
Accompanied by a hard-hitting drummer and DJ, Baker Boy fuses native tongue with rhythmic and melodic hip hop. Throw in a sprinkling of didgeridoo and some tight dance choreography and you had a lively set that can only be described as the highlight song for me; “Cool as hell”.
Two Brits with harmonies that took you away to a place that I’m sure sounded something like heaven would. These girls were a stunning surprise and a real wild card that I’m glad I stumbled across.
George Clinton ft. Parliament Funkadelic
What a way to finish the festival! Party time! These guys (there were many of them) were a carnival of colours and characters, singers and dancers. Grooves that went forever, and that sax solo! Such a vibrant act to end the weekend on a high! Main article image and this one of George Clinton ft. Parliament Funkadelic by Lachlan Douglas.
As a huge advocate for the environment, Jack Johnson gave an exclusive press conference about the launch of ‘BYO Bottle’. Kudos to Bluesfest for being the first to initiate this in the music industry. Free water, including sparkling, was available at stations for you to refill your own bottle. A great change for this vast industry.
Bluesfest nailed it again! They manage to seamlessly pull things off and send people home with a full and happy heart each year. I think that is what I love so much about Bluesfest. It feels like far more than a music festival. They have created their own culture and one that they can be very proud of.
I’m looking forward to heading back next year, but for now, I sleep!
Welcome along. I’m Clare, Founder of Take Me To Australia. Having moved to Australia six years ago, I made it my mission to learn more about this epic country we now call home. As we travel across the country to unique destinations, we share with fresh eyes the most extraordinary places we are lucky enough to experience. We aim to inspire others to follow in our footsteps, live their absolute best life, explore what Australia has to offer, and even encourage people further afield to make a similar move. We’ve grown a like-minded community of over 120,000 people. Be sure to join them by signing up to receive all the latest inspo, and connecting with us on Instagram and Facebook. See you soon.