In September, UNIFY Gathering unleashed the monster lineup for next year’s four-day heavy festival, and it looks damn good.
Located in the stunning surrounds of South Gippsland, the festival – branded ‘a celebration of good friends, great times and heavy music’ – saw the likes of Underoath, Karnivool, In Hearts Wake, and Taking Back Sunday roar through jam-packed sets in 2019.
The 2020 return sees the festival expand leaps and bounds with more days, more acts, more food vendors, a more sustainable approach and a move to a more inclusive lineup.
Following an insightful Gender and Music panel discussion at this years’ event, as facilitated by Michelle Grace Hunder with guests Jenna McDougall, Dale Tanner, Shontay Snow, Alex Reade, and Joel Martorana, the festival has made gender equality a key focus for 2020.
Instagram page @lineupswithoutmales reports the festival’s strides towards reaching a 50/50 gender representation ratio, this year coming in at 33 per cent with acts like Tonight Alive, Make Them Suffer, The Beautiful Monument and Eat Your Heart Out leading those statistics. Another welcome addition to the lineup is the ‘Cinderella Dracula’ of Australian rock music, Tired Lion, who are psyched to be included in such a diverse lineup.
“It’s so important and great that the Australian music industry put that diversity topic under a microscope so we’ve started to have this conversation. We’ve started to progress and it’s becoming more positive. UNIFY are at 33 per cent! It’s not 50 per cent yet, but it’s still a pretty damn good effort,” says frontwoman, Sophie Hopes. “We’re just fighting for the same equal opportunities as the guys get. We don’t want to get rid of the men, no, keep the men. Just add more women, that’s it.”
UNIFY will be Hopes and co.’s first concert for 2020 and they’re excited to join friends as well as female and non-binary acts, yet there is one particular act that stands as a highlight for Hopes.
“It’s so funny, when I found out Silverstein were playing I just thought of my 14-year-old self, and how I really wanted a Silverstein shirt and the only place to go to get them [was] this place called Joynt Venture and it was kind of like a bong shop,” she laughs.
“But this will be our very first show in January, so we will be dusting off the cobwebs in December for Festival of the Sun and UNIFY will be the next one after that. I’m super looking forward to it. To play again will feel too surreal. It’s been too long.”
In addition to being alongside amazing talent on the lineup, Tired Lion also have a special surprise in store within their own configuration.
“We’ve got a secret guest filling in as well, from a pretty rad band, so that’s something to allude to,” Hopes teases.
It’s no wonder the band are going all out for UNIFY. They’ve had a quiet 2019, with only a handful of gigs, but Tired Lion haven’t been completely MIA. Hopes has been locked away working on new material for the follow on from their mammoth debut, Dumb Days.
“It’s been really quiet on [the live] front, but behind the scenes I have been working my butt off just working on new material and taking my time with it, for the first time ever. I’ve always felt really rushed in the past with getting new music out there and just slamming it, so I just wanted to take a different approach to it this time and just chill and go at my own pace. It’s been really rewarding.
“I’m writing some pretty interesting stuff. I’m just going for the whole, ‘I want to produce something that I think is art and that I think is fucking cool and I want to listen to’.”
Catch Tired Lion at UNIFY Gathering from Thursday January 9 to Sunday January 12 at Tarwin Meadows, South Gippsland. For tickets and more info, head to unifygathering.com.