This Easter weekend saw around 105,000 pairs of music lovin’ boots stomp over Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm to soak up the sun (and rain), mingle among the gum trees, and experience a near-endless supply of exceptional live music at the 29th iconic Byron Bay Bluesfest.
All photographs by Louis Hull.
Bursting with colourful characters, the five-day event was more than just a music festival – we enjoyed a multicultural celebration of diversity, amid the renowned and uninterrupted vibe of happy ‘n’ peaceful times. Each of the six stages sat beneath a tent dripping with lights and flags, as revellers of all ages enjoyed performances alongside their children, parents, grandparents, friends, and neighbours.
Here are a handful of photo highlights from my new favourite festival in Australia.
CHIC Featuring Nile Rodgers
No one seemed to have more fun on stage than His Royal Disco-ness Nile Rodgers, and band CHIC. Literally grinning from ear to ear throughout the set, Rodgers laughed as he recalled seeing a local newspaper refer to CHIC as a cover band: “I wrote these songs! The artists that sang ‘em – Diana Ross, Madonna, Duran Duran, David Bowie – they’re covering my songs,” he giggled.
Stunning the audience with her incessant displays of musicality (including playing the trumpet!), the Melbourne-born one-woman-band had the MOJO stage rocking and swaying to Mystik, Notion, Jungle, and many more.
Despite the fact these pioneers of reggae were playing on all five days of Bluesfest, we saved them ’til the last day, and their energy and gratitude was magical; we bounced around the tent to Bob Marley classics with our eyes closed and our arms in the air.
Day three of Bluesfest found us two hours in without seeing a band… “Why? How?” I hear you cry. That’ll be the 100 food stalls we wandered between, sampling more varieties of cuisine than have (possibly) EVER been consumed in such a short space of time by a small family… Guinness World Record, anyone?
Taking us back to the ‘90s with a number of tracks from Big Calm, lead singer Skye Edwards resembled a goddess as she wafted about the stage, captivating the crowd with her sublime voice.
First Aid Kit
Is country-punk a thing? If it’s not, these two inspirational young lasses from Sweden might have coined their own genre. The vivacity they displayed was contagious, and hats off to Joanna Soderberg for her powerful speech calling out offenders of sexual harassment and assault – the subject matter of their 2017 single You Are The Problem Here.
Sporting the sparkliest red jacket I’ve ever seen, the 69-year-old attracted the biggest crowd of the weekend, and man – he knew how to entertain us. Full of banter, he treated us to old Commodores tunes and love songs like Stuck on You and audience favourite Dancing on the Ceiling.
Five days at a music festival sounds like it could be hard work – and after walking 61,289 steps, my feet did hurt a little – but when you wake up surrounded by the stunning coastline and relaxed atmosphere of Byron Bay, and begin your day with bike rides and sea kayaking and finish it dancing to bands you didn’t think you knew but do, you will very quickly learn Byron Bay Bluesfest is the best place on earth. See you next year!
Get your ears around Bluesfest 2018 (the album), available at JB Hi-Fi right now.