A journey through some of Victoria’s greatest music festivals that are no more

A journey through some of Victoria’s greatest music festivals that are no more

Soundwave, Melbourne 2014. Photo by Kane Hibberd
Words by Alex Callan

We got the punters do our job for us.

Sunburn, drink tokens, overpriced light beers and that one day of a year you’d buy a 40 deck. That’s livin’.

Over the past few decades, Victorians have been lucky enough to host some world-class music festivals. From the era of one-day events reigning supreme to the prominent rise of multiple-day ‘bush-doofs’ and boutique festivals; festivals have quickly become the make or break moment for any aspiring artist’s career and a permanent booking in many young Victorians’ social calendar.

With our summer festival season ultimately being cancelled, we decided to take a retrospective journey through some of Victoria’s greatest music festivals that are no more. Because, what else are we going to do? We can’t attend them.

This time around instead of using our journos to give their opinions, we decided to collect the stories of punters.

Here are some juicy anecdotes that’ll make you miss the festival season even more than you already are.

Future Music Festival (2006-2015)

Lys: “I went to Future in 2009, during my peak muzza phase. The day started with fake tan, vodka cruisers and enthusiasm, and was followed by shoulder rides on various topless muscleheads for the N.E.R.D set, warm smuggled liquor, and a roll full of classic festival gal selfies.”

Pyramid Rock (2004-2010)

Jack: “Oh it was so long ago! 2011, First camp out festival I went to! I’d say it’s similar to Falls back in the day, but a more funny mix of people cause it was in Phillip island so like lotta country people with more camp interaction. I’ve seen Spiderbait quite a few times now but this was the first and they were so good. I did think the Scissor Sisters were a strange choice to do the New Years Countdown My 2012 came in with ‘take your mama out all night’.”

Maitraya (2008-2015)

Nick: “Hmmm, it was the perfect blend between quality production and epic natural serenity, mixed with a real grungey, dark undercurrent, used together with non-stop psytrance and uplifting techno…in short, it was fuckin’ epic.”

Kennedys Creek (2008-2019)

Jesse: “Before that weekend of my first Kennedy’s Creek, I’d never heard of it. But all I can say is what a textbook example of music, camping and community.

After that weekend I was annoyed I didn’t know of it sooner. I was equally as sad to find out the second time I went would be the last ever KC. Bloody hope not…

Fav moment was Sunnyside were peak set and everyone’s heads were bopping in sync, that shit gets me every time.”

Soundwave (2004-2015)

Glenn: “Where in the fuckin Australia are you going to see Judas Priest play to the crowd they fucking deserve? Fucking Soundwave, that’s where!

Metal on metal, black on black, there is nothing else like Soundwave. We are starved of European style Open Air MetalFests, and this is as close as it gets for our distant, isolated land!

Let’s hope it returns.”

Earthcore (1993-2018)

Eden: “Above the mayhem, the chaotic disorganisation, the sleepless nights, the questionable characters and the beautiful psychotic maniac that ran the show, Earthcore paved the way for psytrance parties in Australia. Spiro had arguably the biggest impact on the Aussie electronic music scene. Earthcore went out the way it came in, a wild shit show that we all kept coming back for.”

Stereosonic (2008-2015)

Blake: “Considering it was my first over age festival it was pretty intimidating walking in surrounded by heaps of hectic muzzas that had obviously been there for numerous years. But as soon as I got to the first stage to see PNAU all of my concerns instantly faded away. The day continued seeing acts that I’m now not so proud of saying I prioritised over others, namely seeing LMFAO and Afrojack instead of acts like Claude Von Stroke and Mr Oizo.

The night finished with Armin Van Buuren (I think) and the light show was sick.

All in all the two years I went to Stezza were great. I just wish I had the music taste I have now because I missed out on some great acts, but hindsight is a beautiful thing.”

Pushover Festival (1992-2014)

Josh: “I guess Pushover was one of the first festivals I attended that there was a big crowd. My main memory is seeing Parkway drive for the first time, packing out the tiny little outdoor courtyard area at the Abbotsford convent. They ended up getting a huge circle pit going during ‘Feed em to the pigs’. It was crazy. That was not long after they’d released ‘Horizons’.”

Yemaya (2014-2017)

Misha: “In 2017 I attended the final Yemaya festival in a grassless paddock just outside serpentine. It was a long hot weekend of psytrance,techno, ambient and instrumental performances set between 2 stages.

I went into it thinking how am I going to listen 150+bpm for 4 days but instead was offered a surprisingly intimate experience. It was my first time seeing the Australian staples Tetrameth and Terrafractyl and I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the genre.

The highlight of the weekend was Yuli Fershat (perfect stranger)’s extended eight hour set, from late Saturday Night to very early Sunday Morning, he showcased a variety of sounds into a seemless performance I’ll never forget.

Thinking back on it now it was an absolute privilege to be there with friends dancing in the heat at my first and unknowingly last Yemaya festival..”

Big Day Out (1993-2014)

Michaela: “I was lucky enough to attend the annual Big Day Out festival from 2011 to 2014.
It’s a sad sight to see that this festival has now left us but the memories live on; such as watching Iggy Pop bark like a dog on all fours, sweating in the boiler room on a 40 degree day to Die Antwoord, Getting bruised in the death pit of Violent Soho, Having a boogie to Primal Scream, Smoking a doobie to Snoop Dogg whilst running back and forth to Pearl Jam.”

James: “Woah what a nostalgic moment in time. I remember the first BDO I ever went to was 2012 – the night before was my 16th birthday and I had some friends over to celebrate. I knew about half of them were attending the next day and genuinely, I was excited for them. They must have known that because they all put money together and surprised me with a ticket so I could join the fun.

Kanye West had released ‘My Beautiful Twisted Dark Fantasy’, Odd Future were fresh on the scene and ‘Yonkers’ was a huge track, Nero had some of the most hair raising sounds, Foster The People released their album ‘Torches’ and I probably knew every word to every song listed plus a handful of other acts had me pumped up.

After enjoying 2012 I went the following years, 2013 I saw some incredible acts that include The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Killers, Childish Gambino, Vampire Weekend, Band of Horses, Morgan Page, Crystal Castles, Grinspoon and Foals. I also discovered the stress of having two acts you love clash and making a clutch decision of choosing one. 2014 was much similar with huge acts like Pearl Jam, Arcade Fire, Snoop Dogg and Major Lazer and when reflecting on the line-up presented it made me think about how any of the following acts would now headline a festival in 2021 if they haven’t already, Flume, Tame Impala, Mac Miller, Rufus, Violent Soho and the 1975.

What I loved most of the Big Day Out festivals was the diverse genres on the day, you could go from seeing a dance act to metal and then straight to hip hop and in between maybe catch Tony Hawk shred a halfpipe. I think for this reason it appealed to many and made it such a popular event over the summer. I hold some of the best memories with my best mates after seeing some of these musicians that some might not perform here in Melbourne again, It makes the memory ever more special.

Each time I hear a song I saw at Big Day Out it takes me back to one of the best festivals there ever was.”