Byron Bay Bluesfest, Saturday 4th April
For years I have wanted to jump onto the Bluesfest bandwagon, but there was always something stopping me from going, however when Hozier and Alabama Shakes were added to this year’s lineup, I made it my responsibility to get myself there no matter what. Equipped with overcast weather, a groovy CD mix and my best friend, we hit the road to Bluesfest at Byron Bay for an unforgettable day. Of course we’re off to a good start as we both forgot about daylight savings, arriving a tad later than we expected. Bluesfest is very much a mature aged festival crowd, ranging from early 30s to 60s, with hundreds of children and teenagers to fill in the rest. In saying that, these people definitely know how to party, with adults already hitting the bars at 11am (along with myself) and a fashion sense that makes you cringe a little, I can’t help but admire them regardless. It is ridiculously muddy so I have no regrets sporting knee high socks and gumboots that could knock out a small child.
The first band to kick off the mainstage is Band of Skulls, after hearing many things about them, they live up to the hype, with some groovy rock tunes and melodies that get all age groups dancing down the front of the stage. Mariachi El Bronx a punk band turned mariachi who supposedly delivered a smashing set at Splendour in the Grass a few years back are certainly a drawcard for me. To put it bluntly, I have never seen so many adults drink and dance to mariachi music for an hour straight. The vibes are amazing, the energy is high and I couldn’t be having a better time.
If you are a fan of about 15-20 men getting onto a stage with an entire orchestra playing funk/jazz music, then Melbourne Ska Orchestra are the band for you, they deliver an insanely enjoyable and literally moving performance; they have the entire tent eating out of the palm of their hands.
I first heard of Hozier’s Take Me To Church on Pandora back in June last year, and have been a massive fan of his music ever since, so standing at the front of the stage only minutes away from Hozier performing was incredibly exciting. For people who think that he is a one hit wonder you are sadly mistaken. Hozier puts on an incredible performance, with him centre stage and a nearly all female band, he destroys all rumours that he isn’t capable of performing to large audiences or that his set is dull. Of course Take Me To Church is a classic but it was his closing song, and my personal favourite, Work Song that really exemplifies what a talented singer/songwriter Andrew Hozier-Byrne is.
After missing out on Alabama Shakes at Big Day Out a couple of years ago, I did not want to miss them tonight. From the moment lead singer Brittany Howard walks onto the stage, to the disappointing moment their set time was up and she has to walk off stage, the entire audience are mesmerised by what I can only explain as one of the most enjoyable rock experiences of my life. Brittany doesn’t just bring a voice to the songs, she brings emotion and sass and mixed with impressive and memorable rock riffs it is safe to say that Alabama Shakes are the highlight of the day.
Out of all of the Australian festivals, Bluesfest at Byron Bay has always been one of the most acclaimed, and I can definitely see why. If you haven’t been before then I highly recommend heading down – even if it is just for a day.