Back to the future: return of the music festival

And we’re live! Crowds have returned to festivals in Victoria. Photo: Eddie Russell
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The return of festivals is a huge relief for music fans, but have COVID restrictions damaged the experience? Eddie Russell reports.
And we’re live! Crowds have returned to festivals in Victoria. Photo: Eddie Russell

Fans gave a warm welcome to the return of music festivals to Victoria at the weekend, with thousands flocking to the Yarra Valley to attend Wine Machine.

Sprawled across the Rochford Estate, Wine Machine put Australian talent centre stage with a near sell-out two-day festival of local food, wine and music.

With COVID-19 still a concern, social distancing measures were in place to meet state government requirements. This included sectioned zones, which held around 1000 patrons each and free movement between these was prohibited.

Music fan Ned Fogarty, 19, said the restrictions were inconvenient but necessary.

It wasn’t ideal, as we couldn’t hang out with friends that had been put in different sections, but it was definitely a price I was willing to pay to have live music back.

“I’m pretty impressed with how they went about it logistically.”

Back to the future: return of the music festival
A bumper turnout saw music fans like bulls at the gate for live music. Photo: Eddie Russell

Master of Ceremonies Danny Clayton emphasised the opportunity that many music fans had missed during the last 12 months.

“This is the first festival we are allowed to dance!” he said.

Festivals and large gigs in Victoria and New South Wales have been primarily seated because of COVID-19.

The chance to see music up close and personal provided a much-needed escape for festival-goer Oliver Bray. 

“It was pretty surreal being back in front of a stage watching a ton of great acts put on a ripper show,” said Mr Bray.

The COVID restrictions … didn’t detract from the experience.

Back to the future: return of the music festival
The Jungle Giants perform as adoring fans in the VIP section watch on. Photo: Eddie Russell

Headline acts Jungle Giants provided an electrifying experience with their punchy, jangly and indie tunes before Hot Dub Time Machine sent patrons into a frenzy with a comprehensive history of dance hits.

Alice Ivy, Bag Raiders, Don West and Kinder also chipped in with engaging and fun shows that were well received by the audience.