Yours and Owls 2021

Music festivals are back baby!



Yours and Owls 2021 will go down in history, marking the return of music festivals on a scale that has not been seen in New South Wales, Australia since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The two-day event which took place over April 17th and 18th, celebrated its temporary home in Thomas Dalton Park, Wollongong, hosting approx. 14, 000 music lovers in a COVID-safe manner.

What does a COVID-safe festival look like? A little like this.


Yours and Owls 2021 was classified as a seated event, ensuring the social distancing guidelines as imposed by the NSW Government could be adhered to. To further protect attendees, the festival was divided into four zones, a capacity of approx. 3500 people in each, with state-of-the-art staging constructed in the centre.

To ensure all attendees had prime views of the performances, two stages were utilised – the “Yours” stage and the “Owls” stage. Performances were staggered across both, alternating by the hour. It made me nostalgic for Big Day Out, which adhered to a similar setup, proving to be effective. What was unique about the Yours and Owls setup was the function of the stages. Each stage featured rotating mechanisms, ensuring every angle of the festival, and crowd, could be played to. This was necessary, given the layout of the zones.

Despite being classified as a seated event, attendees could roam their zones to enjoy the food vendors, bars, and local “Rad” stage.

Most importantly? Dancing was given the tick of approval from the NSW Government in the weeks leading up to the festival. This made the weekend incredibly fun…and chaotic. Unfortunately, (and somewhat understandably) being restricted to socially distanced rows of seats is not the ideal dancing layout for festivalgoers. Countless people packed into the aisles and front sections, creating mosh pits during performances and essentially, throwing all social distancing rules out the window.

These actions resulted in multiple sets being interrupted and effectively, cut short by as much as approx. 15 minutes, whilst organisers took to the stage telling everyone to return to the seats.

Saturday was particularly frustrating in this regard, with every set of the evening being interrupted for this reason. The crowd would patiently wait for others to find a seat, only to witness hundreds of people run right back to the front and flood the aisles as soon as the performances resumed.

People were not PEACH-y keen on this experience. If you know, you know.

With organisers announcing that the future of the festival could be in jeopardy if subject to more chaos, it was a relief to find that Sunday was far better controlled, and performances were not victim to such frustrating interruptions.

Performances from Cosmo’s Midnight, DMA’s, Lime Cordiale and Hayden James were standouts, with almost everyone in sight on their feet, or standing on their chairs, dancing, and singing their hearts out. Despite Winston Surfshirt and The Smith Street Band experiencing lengthy interruptions, their performances were also crowd favourites.

Tones and I naturally worked up a frenzy of dance monkeys as she performed her global smash hit of the same name and after teasing a surprise, treated the crowd to a beautiful firework display to close her set. What So Not and PNAU were the perfect closing acts for their respective nights, concluding the festival on a high.

Despite the COVID-safe layout of Yours and Owls and the chaos that followed such restrictions, the festival experience was still exciting and euphoric.

It was simultaneously a sigh of relief, and a breath of fresh air. Personally, it marked my return to live music. Experiencing the absence of concerts and festivals for 14 months, due to COVID-19, felt soul crushing. It also made me experience intense waves of gratitude throughout the entire duration of Yours and Owls. I have a feeling, judging based on the reception of the crowd, I was not the only one. It was a magical weekend, and a much-needed reminder of the power of live music.

3 thoughts on “Yours and Owls 2021

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