Day two of the Yours and Owls weekender was set to be a massive day. The line up boasted some of the biggest bands touring Australia at the moment, as well as a huge selection of local talent. The festival had taken a reset after the brilliant performances on Saturday, and was ready for the spectacular second day.
Opening Sunday up were New Zealand electronic duo Ghostwave. Playing to only a handful of people braving the festival in the early hours – those not too hungover from day one – Ghostwave were not spectacular. With very little on stage energy and a lacklustre performance it almost seemed as if the two were nursing hangovers themselves.
In contrast to this the main stage was lit up by the Triple J unearthed winners Easy Life were putting everything into their performance for the die hard fans that’d made it out early. Despite an incredibly muddy mix that made it impossible to tell what the guitars were doing Easy Life showed clearly why they were deserving of the spot. After crowd calls of ‘bullshit’ as the band left the stage, Easy Life returned for an encore with their fan favourite Monster Squad.
Los Pintar were the next band to take to the stage on Sunday, rocking out at the Rad stage. Not drawing much of a crowd Los Pintar still performed admirably.
Taking up residence on the Out of Space stage were Horror My Friend. The Radelaide boys provided the early morning tunes, with an insane amount of energy radiating from the stage as they rocked out with reckless abandon. The band showed technical skill and a familiarity with their instruments that only comes from a combination of practice and touring hard. Horror My Friend are a band to be watching.
Meanwhile, Electric Wire Hustle were playing on the main stage. Despite a small crowd, the band were delivering a dynamic performance. The NZ soul band were led by impeccable vocals, but the festival was simply not yet full enough for a proper crowd to form.
A crowd of local music lovers had managed to form at the Rad stage for Raised as Wolves. Crowd surfing this early in the day was a sight to see, but it was not at all out of place as the loud punks that are Raised as Wolves gave Rad bar the best crowd it had seen since before the AFL the day before. Rad’s sound issues had still not been completely solved but vocals could be heard clearly and there was much more balance in the mix. The Wollongong locals definitely brought a bit of the Gong to Yours and Owls.
Another Wollongong local took to the main stage next. Bec Sandridge has had a rollercoaster of a year, with a Like A Version appearance and a string of national tours. Opening with new single I’ll Never Want A BF , Sandridge didn’t waste a single moment getting into the indie rock groove. Sandridge’s new backing band locked in far better than the one presented at her last Wollongong show with Catfish and the Bottlemen, and the energy on stage was some of the best that Bec has ever delivered. Despite the festival still not capable of supplying an impressive crowd ,a hefty number had turned out for the Wollongong born and raised, and they were not disappointed as hits like You’re a Fucking Joke, High Tide, and set closer In The Fog were blasted out from the stage. The mixing at the main stage was still sub par, with guitar barely audible at times, and a sub so loud it was clipping. These issues didn’t seem to phase Sandridge, who rocked out the entire set with her signature energetic style.
Exciting things were happening over on the Rad stage. Jacob had just taken to the stage and the Rad stage crowd had swelled even more. Giving the typical spiel about how important it is to support local bands Jacob were pumping out energy, before inviting another local, Chris Young, up onto the stage to play You’re Not That Cool and You’re So Cool. The end of Jacob’s set was a festival highlight.
Meanwhile the second stage was playing host to The Pinheads. The strange stage presence and sense of going through the motions for the band combined for a lacklustre performance that didn’t live up to the bands hype. Ending on I Wanna Be A Girl , the band were fairly disappointing, performing nowhere near the standard seen at previous Pinheads shows.
Meanwhile Holy Holy were pumping up the crowd at the main stage with electronic infused rock vibes. True Lovers was a set highlight with an incredible guitar solo and an inescapable stage presence.
Coming up next on the Out of Space stage was a band that many in the crowd had bought their tickets solely to see. Totally Unicorn were one of the greatest live festival acts, ever. The band launched immediately into a stage show, playing a selection of what frontman Drew Gardner described as “number one’s.” The bands intense stage show quickly became interactive, with Gardner launching himself headfirst into the crowd. Opening up a circle himself Gardner became the most energetic crowd member at his own show, all while still remaining tethered to the stage by his microphone cable. Not a single melodic line was compromised as Totally Unicorn bombastically made their way through one of the most amazing festival sets imaginable. The show only grew in amazement as streamers and confetti canons entered the fray, and with a guest appearance by Frenzal Rhomb’s Lindsay ‘The Doctor’ McDougall on guitar. Totally Unicorn brought their A game to Yours and Owls, and it isn’t possible to put into words how amazing a live experience that really is.
Speaking of live experiences, Confidence Man started their set on the main stage. Though Confidence Man definitely have a completely different atmosphere to Totally Unicorn, they are no less entertaining. Despite copping flak from a video of their Splendour performance earlier in the year, Confidence Man are a live spectacle. When experienced in person, Confidence Man are an intense, choreographed spectacle, capable of more musical skill than many give them credit for. The vocal performance was top for Bubblegum and Better Sit Down Boy, and the insane amount of movement on stage didn’t stop until the band closed with the controversial Boyfriend (Repeat). Unfortunately the festival didn’t managed to keep this incredibly flow of energy as there was another 5pm lull, thankfully this time for only a few minutes.
Breaking the silence at the Out of Space stage was AJJ. Taking to the stage to The Wiggles’ Hot Potato, AJJ were appearing with a stripped down lineup of only four core members. Despite not packing the added dominance of double bass and cello, AJJ were nevertheless the amazing band they always prove to be. Opening with the classic Brave as a Noun followed by last year’s Cody’s Theme and White Worms. The band took the energy down for Knife Man’s Back Pack, but kept the crowd enthused with their signature quirkiness and tongue-in-cheek humour. The band were all wild energy as they made their way through American Tune, Fucc the Devil, and Bad Bad Things, before launching into the crowd pleasing Kokopelli Face Tattoo. When the band brought the energy back down again for No More Fear the performance was almost ruined by the music from the main stage, which could be heard from the barrier of the Out of Space stage, as Sean Bonnette spilled his heart out to the festival. Thankfully when the band went back into the energetic Heartilation, from their 2009 album Can’t Maintain, they drowned out the noise from the main stage. The band topped off their amazing set with Lady Liberty and Goodbye, Oh Goodbye. The exhausted band left the stage as another Wiggles song played to a small but highly entertained crowd, an appropriate choice if you’ve seen the T-shirts in Goodbye’s music video. While AJJ might not have played the most festival appropriate set they definitely entertained those that came to check them out, and kept a crowd the entire time.
The culprits for the sound pollution during AJJ’s set were the Australia’s biggest rap duo, A.B. Original. The duo’s fierce, politically driven rap exploded from the stage, with DJ Total Eclipse supplying the beats for the set. Briggs and Trials used their time on stage well, speaking and performing about police brutality, dangerous drugs, and Aboriginal issues. Caiti Baker, who collaborated with the band on their song Dead In A Minute last year, joined the group on stage for the end of their set. Baker’s vocals were as strong as the raps as they smashed out I C U. Baker took care of Paul Kelly’s lines as A.B. Original delivered a dynamic performance of their Like A Version take on Dumb Things. After an instrumental showcase the rappers returned with Baker to close the set with quite possibly the largest song of last year January 26. After a false start to get the crowd to appreciate the importance of the track’s message, and to get them pumped up, the group produced an amazing take on the song. One can not help but feel that many in the crowd might not have gotten the full impact of what the song represents, but with the way that A.B. Original performs it’s hard to escape for most.
A complete one eighty from Trials and Briggs was the White Blanks, performing on the Rad stage. Giving the crowd one of the loosest performances of the weekend, the White Blanks were clearly enjoying themselves. The band offered up their grungy, punk inspired music to a feverish crowd. The band may have been one of the few acts to not have cared about the quality of sound at the Rad stage, which is a happy coincidence considering it was some of the worst, with band members climbing speakers and running around on stage with reckless abandon.
Le Butcherettes were the next to take to the second stage. The band, which revolves around frontwoman Teri Gender Bender, are a polarising live act. The Mexican based band pumped out their strange garage rock as Teri used the stage to its full potential. Despite the rest of the band having very little stage presence Teri made up for it with her live persona seemingly having an exorcism after the band played Witchless C Spot. Teri kept up the spectacle as she ripped off her jumpsuit to reveal her signature red dress underneath during The Leibniz Language. The band topped off their incredible performance with New York, to the delight of the small, but mixed and happy crowd. The wild performance of Teri Gender Bender during the entire set was an absolute amazing thing to see, and combined with Le Butcherettes music it was one of the festival highlights.
While the vibe on the main stage might have been completely different, Montaigne wasn’t shying away from the crowd as she pumped out a super energetic performance. The Triple J royalty was commanding the stage, but had ample support from her backing band, especially her drummer. In The Dark drove the crowd crazy, before Montaigne finished her set with Til It Kills Me. The climax of Montaigne’s set was huge, and by the end she had gathered a huge crowd for Sunday.
Following on from Montaigne’s stellar performance was rapper Illy. Always a great live performer, Illy didn’t let Yours and Owls down as he raced through One For the City, Youngbloods, and On and On. Illy’s raps and vocals were amazingly clear and the crowd kept up through Catch 22, before Illy dedicated Swear Jar to anyone voting no in the postal vote for marriage equality. The crowd loved the cheeky dig at homophobes, and the song went over amazingly. Treating the crowd to it’s second Like A Version of the night Illy was pitchy during his performance of his 2013 mashup of some classic Aussie tunes, but didn’t drop energy before taking the set to an even higher level with set closers Tightrope and Papercuts.
Finally the much anticipated At The Drive In were up. Taking to the stage to some truly horrifying backing tracks, the band immediately showed why even after their huge hiatus they are deserving of a headlining spot at any festival. Cedric Bixler-Zavala was quite easily the most energetic performer of the festival, running about the stage, jumping onto the barrier, and at one point dragging a box onto stage and getting into it. The band’s triumphant performance was marred by the absolutely awful sound quality being produced by the front of house; an incredibly muddy mix that made it near impossible to make out lyrics, melodies, and even songs. The sound quality at Yours and Owls’ main stage hadn’t been the best during the weekend, but At The Drive In definitely had some of the worst quality sound produced at the festival. Despite this the band were still capable of an incredible performance, which included the appearance of a melodica, the band played a mix of classic and new songs and smashed all of them. The band closed with Relationship of Command hit single One Armed Scissor, leaving the stage and crowd begging for more.
Closing up the second stage was American sad rock band Sorority Noise. Despite having to compete with the headliners at the main stage Sorority Noise managed to draw in a decent crowd as they pumped through Car, Leave the Fan On, and Nolsey. The bands melancholy vibe might not have gotten the crowd moving, and frontman Cameron Boucher’s lack of movement and poor stage presence didn’t help, but as the band picked up pace and movement started to happen those not as familiar with their songs got progressively more into the performance. Where Are You? had the band rocking out with significant energy, and despite a cold start the band proved that they’re capable of closing a stage with a killer performance.
Everyone who had kept on through the day was now at the main stage to watch Australian electronic duo The Presets close the festival. Huge screens had been moved out onto the stage, with the pairs set ups hidden behind them. Drummer/keyboardist Kim Moyes was lacking during the start of the set, but this was made up for as vocalist Julian Hamilton dominated the stage when away from his keyboard. Despite the cold The Presets managed to get the crowd moving hard along to Ghosts, and This Boy’s In Love. The sound at the main stage had improved by this point, with the sub not being anywhere near as obnoxious as it had been earlier in the day, but the light show during the set was irregular and odd, with the screens on stage seeming to light up at random points throughout songs. The band hit a highpoint with their classic hit My People, with the crowd creating two tiers of punters from the number of people sitting on shoulders. The duo finished up their set with Kicking and Screaming and Talk Like That, neither of which got the same massive reaction as My People but still got the entire festival moving. The Presets were the perfect ending to the Yours and Owls weekender, which at its core celebrates the Australian music industry.
Overall the festival was a huge success and built off the festivals previous years perfectly. A mostly well behaved sell-out crowd and a huge line-up of acts made the entire weekend an impeccable music festival, and judging by this years success we are likely to see Yours and Owls return for many more years.
– Josh Mills