The rise of the backyard music festival: Could this be the norm in a post-COVID world?

The rise of the backyard music festival: Could this be the norm in a post-COVID world?

Honey I'm Home
Words by Jessica Boland

Having your favourite bands perform from your own backyard sounds pretty sweet, doesn’t it?

We all know the music industry has been hit hard by COVID-19. Restrictions on human gatherings in any form came into play almost immediately preventing any semblance of live music to occur, whether it was in a venue or at a festival.

Six months on and as we begin to imagine a post-COVID world where the weekend caper of gigs and partying looms again, it will be interesting to see if some new event ideas and concepts arise from the slumber.

With punters’ eternal affinity to the house party, could we see the rise of an amplified version of the sort? It’s not uncommon for Melbourne house party instigators to accompany DJs with a lineup of bands. Add a little bit more organisation and a larger punch bowl and who knows, maybe your regular house party could become something more commercially viable.

In February 2020, burgeoning event organiser Brent Honey hosted his own amplified house party, welcoming 250 people into his own home for a self-conceived and self-started independent backyard festival.

What started as a passing thought in March of 2019 quickly steamrolled, and soon enough Honey I’m Home became a thing – a live music extravaganza with eight live bands performing in Honey’s very own backyard. If that wasn’t impressive enough, the event also raised $10,000 for bushfire relief.

“It was the best day of my life,” Honey says. “I’ll be honest it was a pretty massive process, but I knew it was possible [from the start].

“We figured out how many tickets we could sell, then we set our ticket price and from there we could calculate the main revenue stream, and that’s how we figured out how much money we actually had to play with.”

From conception to creation, a rigorous stretch of organisation ensued. Whether it was lighting or sound, to organising a green room for the acts, all the way down to makeshift toilets, Honey had to account for anything and everything the festival might need.

Most importantly, he had to find artists to perform.

“I started with bands who I had actually spoken to before, who I’d met at gigs and stuff and had mentioned what I was doing, and then it was just a matter of reaching out on social media,” Honey explained. “I actually ended up having too many artists and I couldn’t fit them all in the lineup.”

Once he had his artists set, Honey had to prepare a space for them to, well, perform.

“The real key to organising it to me was having a good sound engineer, because that was something I knew nothing about,” he continues.

“So I reached out, found a great one and I said, ‘Look, these are the acts I’ve got, this is the gear they’ve said they need’, and he just went ahead and helped me organise all of that stuff.”

While it might seem like an overwhelming end goal, Honey didn’t have to do everything completely on his own.

“I had so many people reach out and ask what they could do to help. If you’re planning on doing something big, especially for charity, people are always going to want to help you, no one’s ever going to want you to fail. Sure, like there were people who thought I was crazy but in my mind I had so much self-belief because I knew how much work I’d put into it.”

And then it was just a matter of hosting the event.

“I’m not gonna lie, the day before and the morning of were probably the most stressful days of my life,” Honey laughs.

“But once it got to a point where I knew nothing was going to go wrong with the acts [it was a major stress relief]. There were a couple moments were I just looked around and I was like ‘Holy shit, what is actually happening? Like 250 of my best friends are in my backyard, some of my favourite artists of all time are playing on my back deck. Like, the same deck I play beer pong on’.

Producing a backyard music festival, that’s filled with great music and great vibes, is no simple task but it’s certainly not impossible.

As we slowly phase back into normality, large-scale festivals won’t be given the green light for a while yet. But with smaller innovations posing less of a public health risk to its patrons maybe the independent backyard festival could become more commonplace in the events space.

Never miss a story. Sign up to Beat’s newsletter and you’ll be served fresh music, arts, food and culture stories three times a week.