Yours and Owls @ The Gong

Lazy Susans and Crowd Surfing, An Unforgettable Experience

By Tilly Heal

Image: Yours and Owls

Founded in Wollongong back in 2010, Yours and Owls (Y&O) was the brainchild of 3 fresh uni grads who were sick of trekking it to Sydney for decent coffee or to go out to venues that played music other than the Top 40. Unsure what to do after uni, they decided to fill the market gap for good coffee in the Gong and opened a coffee shop. With a love for music and prior experience hosting up to 600 people in their uni sharehouse, the coffee shop quickly grew to be a gallery, restaurant, music venue, record label and now hosts the annual music festival that we’ve come to love.

A significant change from prior festivals this year was the rotating stages, which many of us liked to call the 'Lazy Susans'. The act would spin around as they played their set to an audience both in front and behind the stage setup. Each zone had rows and rows of plastic white chairs that were joined together and were intended to be sat on (but they were mostly just danced on). It was inevitable that some people’s mates were in different zones, and unlike previous festivals where you could meet at a kebab van, you had to either pre-drink together or meet up afterwards. 

Haiku Hands are an all-female, Aussie dance-pop band that were a hands down stand-out act for me. Each band member had incredible stage presence and energy, and a special shout-out to the member who was heavily pregnant, rocked a super tight outfit and completely got down to the music. Another band member crowd surfed, which was probably a massive head-ache for the security guards but a lot of fun for the crowd. Rainbow streamers were set off into the crowd which was a beautiful experience and made me realise just how much I had missed live music. 

Lime Cordiale also performed on the Lazy Susans. I first saw them at an all ages concert at the Metro in 2015 and it's safe to say they've come a long way since then; their set at Y&O was testament to this. Their suits were a 10/10 and the crowd completely got around them. Louis' trumpet was phenomenal, and it was so much fun to boogie with them and thousands of other people. We even got the security guards in our area to have a dance with us. What was supposed to be lines of people dancing orderly at their chairs turned into multiple death pits, crowd surfs and fence jumps. It was manic but equally euphoric.

Of course, a shout-out to Pnau. It is impossible to refrain from dancing when they play their sets and their screen animations fell nothing short of beautiful (they also gave me flash backs to the Just Dance Wii graphics). I, like many others, was dancing in the back section of the zone for this act, balancing on two wonky chairs with a box of greasy and overpriced nachos in my hand. 

From people jumping barricades to management pausing sets to Tones & I releasing surprise fireworks in her set, this festival was different to any other I'd been to, yet it was nothing short of memorable and a hell of a lot of fun. For what started as a tiny local coffee shop, Y&O has helped put Wollongong on the map for many national and international artists and and has boosted the regional economy. In fact, it’s been estimated that for every dollar spent on the festival, there is a $3 economic impact in the region. It was amazing to be part of the festival this year and support so many Aussie musical acts, I can’t wait to go again next year. 

Writer's Bio: Tilly Heal is an International Studies/ Law student from Sydney. She is passionate about travel, sustainability and live music, and is an absolute sucker for a good documentary or British comedy. Her arm can easily be twisted to spontaneously head out of Sydney for the weekend and she can’t leave the house without headphones. 

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