No amount of rain could dampen the mood at this year's Bluesfest

The rain falls heavily to the ground and immediately Converse low tops are exchanged for gumboots, but no one seems to care. They left their worries at the front gate. So what if a little rain dampens the ground, the next five days is all about the musical heart attack that everyone is about to experience from overindulging in some of the best music around.

  • }
Image source: 
David Harris

‘Are you in here, because your hiding from the rain?’, Oscar Dawson asks as the cinematic drone of his guitar sweeps out across the audience in a set that features tracks from both their 2015 debut When The Storms Would Come and 2017’s Paint. Chatting animatedly to the crowd,

Tim Carroll leads the band through a plethora of tracks including ‘Willow Tree’, ‘If I Were You’ and ‘True Lovers’ which makes everyone loosen up and forget about the rain. Having always wanted to play the festival, Holy Holy offers a high energy set that sets the mood nice and proper for what is to come.

Celebrating 20 years of their 1998 debut Bring It On, Southport rockers Gomez walk on and launch into Get Miles’, the opening cut which whips the audience into a frenzy, before proceeding to play the record in its entirety. Anniversary celebrations have been done before, yet with Gomez playing their first shows on Australian soil in six years, hearing these songs together combined with the enjoyment and animation from each band member makes this set something truly special to remember.

From chatting to a few of the artists and punters throughout the festival, the thing that really sets Bluesfest apart from any other festival is the diversity in the lineup. From Robert Plant to Tash Sultana, Harry Manx to Newton Faulkner, there’s always the opportunity listen to some of your favourites as well as discovering so much more.

One such example is Seu Jorge, who recorded the soundtrack to The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Jorge was approached by Wes Anderson to record some David Bowie tracks for the film in his native language of Portuguese. Despite the language barrier being a little issue, everyone joined in for mass singalongs of some of the David Bowie hits including ‘Changes’, ‘Suffragette City’, ‘Space Oddity’, ’Life On Mars’, ‘Rebel Rebel’ and ‘Oh You Pretty Things’. Having not circled Jorge as a must see, it was a pleasant surprise on the cruisey, acoustic laden Sunday afternoon.

In addition to the new discoveries, having the opportunity to get amongst the legends is one that you can’t pass up. From singing ‘Is This Love?’ and ‘Jammin’ with the Wailers, to the endless stream of Prince hits flaunted by The New Power Generation, including ‘Kiss’, ‘Raspberry Beret’, ‘1999’ and ‘Purple Rain’, Robert Plant singing ‘That’s The Way’ and ‘Whole Lotta Love’ to Jackson Browne telling us to ‘Take It Easy’, hearing such iconic songs from throughout rock history presented many hair-raising, skin pinching moments. It was these moments that confirmed that Bluesfest is Australia’s biggest Easter party.

Being a Gen Y, I was unaware of the importance of Niles Rodgers to the global music scene, until I witnessed Chic command the Mojo stage in the disco dance party of 2018. Having co-written and produced for some of the biggest and best, Nile Rodgers and Chic charged through a set of wall to wall hits including ‘Let’s Dance’, ‘We Are Family’. ‘Le Freak’, ‘Rapper’s Delight’ and Madonna’s 1984 #1 hit ‘Like A Virgin’. 

The experience of heading along to Bluesfest is like no other, from the friends you make to the camping lessons you learn (ants don’t like ground cinnamon), it’s a bucket list item that everyone should tick off at least once. Thanks for bringing the good vibes once again Byron Bay, see you in 2019 for the big 30th birthday celebration.

Highlight: A tight tussle between Robert Plant singing ‘That’s The Way’ and Chic smashing ‘Like A Virgin’.
Lowlight: Ants invading my tent.
Crowd favourite: 
‘Whole Lotta Love’.