It’s a story of the ages. 10 years ago, two blokes, a humble concreter Buzz [Jason Bee] and a worker at the local aluminium smelter, Nibbsy [Neale Cox], cracked open some Wild Turkey stubbies and sat around a fire reminiscing about all the great bands they saw at The Barwon Club back in the day.
They spoke about the time Henry Rollins kicked a guy in the face, the time Ox from Poppin Mommas took a 9-inch grinder to a cymbal, and Magic Dirt were young and full of the devil. The year is 2008 and the hey-day of the Geelong ’90s rock scene where you could see bands like Bored!, Cosmic Psychos, The Hard Ons in one week at The BC has gone.
After about eight stubbies, a lone figure approached them and sat with them overhearing their memories about days gone past, at first this lone man didn’t say a word. Undeterred, Buzz and Nibbsy spoke with fervour about the great times they used to have and how they would love to relive those days. It was at this point the lone figure stood up, skulled down his drink, undid his fly and took a piss on the fire. Buzz and Nibbsy both looked at this guy and before they could utter a word the lone man turns to them and says, “if you build it, they will come”. The lone man turns away and walks off into the darkness.
Buzz and Nibbsy sit there in silence for a few minutes until Buzz turns to Nibbsy and says, “Hey Nibbs, what do ya reckon we start our own festival, call it River Rocks or something?” His reply was simple but reassuring, “yeah, alright”. The festival dream was born, and later joined by Al O’Neill in 2013, the River Rocks festival has gone from a drunken dream around a fire and a MySpace page, to a sell-out event worthy of your best mate’s birthday party.
Whether that tale is fact or fiction, it still stands as the beginning of the greatest event to grace Geelong’s rock scene. And to make it 10 years with any festival is a milestone, especially a self-funded festival that’s featured some dream bands over the years.
“Truthfully, River Rocks was born out of the lack of bands we felt were bypassing Geelong and how the local music scene had dropped away,” Nibbsy confesses, “we thought it would be an awesome idea to see how many bands we could get for an all day/night rock festival.”
This year the guys are going all out with the milestone year it is, and have put together their finest effort yet.
“Every year we try to top the year before, thinking how can we actually top that, and somehow with the support of some of our favourite bands, we do. It’s only natural after 10 years we could finally nail a line-up that sells out in a week,” Al explains of reaching the decade milestone. “Myself being a late bloomer to the team, I’m humbled Buzz and Nibbs even let me breathe the same air as them, let alone run a festival with them!”
Hosted by the Barwon Club Hotel, it is a chance to spend the night surrounded by the best music possible including USA bands; Supersuckers and Dead Milkmen, making it a night to remember. Some other names to look out for include Cosmic Psychos, Tumbleweed, Hits and Warped, among many others.
Running for 10 years, it’s inevitable that some pretty special memories have been made within the music scene in the confines of The Barwon Club venue, with Al highlighting some of his favourite memories spanning from Ox from the Poppin Mommas taking a 9-inch grinder to the lighting bar and spraying the room with sparks, Dave Thomas from Bored! getting up and playing ‘Little Suze’ with Warped, and The Ruiner for just being The Ruiner.
Buzz however explains that making it to see the last band each and every year is always a highlight and a surprise. “10 years of River Rocks is amazing,” he says, “I hoped we’d last a couple of years, but I’ve learned you have to pace yourself at RR or you will end up cactus.”
“Some highlights for me would be just watching the festival grow with people coming from all parts of Aus for it,” Nibbsy continues. “The great support we get from all the bands right around the country and becoming great mates with them too. Also having BORED! reforming for the first RR in 2008 was great and our first O.S performance from Becky Lee and Drunkfoot in 2011 on the Saturday afternoon.”
Unfortunately, if you haven’t already grabbed tickets for Saturday November 11, you are out of luck as they sold out within a week of them going on sale. However due to the momentous occasion of a tenth anniversary, and in order to keep the peace on the streets, the River Rocks team are presenting a second day, River Rocks Rehab.
“We never planned to do it. River Rocks just sold out so quickly this year that a lot of our friends and regulars missed out on tickets, so in order to stop them from beating us within an inch of our lives, we decided to act before things got out of hand,” Al laughs. “No idea if this will become a permanent fixture or not, but RRR will be a fun day, some of our favourite bands are backing it up for day two and we have thrown in a few new bands too!”
“Making the festival over two days has been mentioned in the past but it will surely test a few of us out,” Nibbsy adds. “The bands have supported it which is great and I think that’s one of the things I’m most looking forward to seeing – if there is any shift in the dynamic of the crowd over the two days and also watching all the awesome acts on this year’s line-up across two days.” Buzz on the other hand is just concerned about surviving the two days of hard-core celebrating: “It should be great to see everyone hungover that’s coming to River Rocks Rehab,” he laughs.
River Rocks Rehab will be more than just a consolation prize for those who missed out and will include a mix of bands from the night before as well as some new ones – some names; Exploding White Mice, Cosmic Psychos, Hits and Batpiss. Rehab will also include a BBQ breakfast and Bloody Mary’s.
Both days will be well worth the time, as all festivals are, and a memorable occasion partying with the River Rocks community that has been created.
“It’s a great thrill to be looking forward to RR 2017,” Nibbsy says, “we have had some wonderful support for 10 years and it’s such a great day/night, we knew the word would spread and people would support it and a lot of those punters have showed up for the whole 10 years, we can’t thank them enough! We hope we can continue on for another 10 years!”
When & Where: Barwon Club Hotel, Geelong – November 11 & 12
The River Rocks Line-up:
Dead Milkmen (USA)
Digger & The Pussycats
Shanti Tramp (ex Dirty Lovers)
Tickets available now from The Barwon Club or via oztix.com.au.
Written by Talia Rinaldo