Wollongong's favourite two-day party, the Yours and Owls Festival, has had a glow up.
When I first heard the event affectionately known as 'Gong Christmas' was making the permanent move to the University of Wollongong, I held a few concerns. They were mostly personal.
How would I feel looking across the field and catching a glimpse at the hall I'd spent hours in scrawling down answers to my law exams? How would my ageing knees handle the concrete pathways?
Some of my fondest memories from my university years were spent stomping around Stuart Park, and then Thomas Dalton Park when the festival was impressively adapted to become COVID-safe.
A raft of ongoing issues meant these sites were no longer viable. The event was cancelled last year due to a waterlogged site, crushing Wollongong's collective spirit.
But the cities spirit was rebuilt and revived at the weekend. Yours and Owls' new home exceeded my expectations and is a testament to organisers ability and drive to make it happen.
The two main stages and three smaller ones - the Rad stage (a tribute to the Wollongong institution lost in 2019), La La La's stage, and techno stage Das Schmelthaus - gave the festival it's homely gravitas it is known for.
The university provided more space for Yours and Owls to achieve the perfect balance it always strikes - showcasing artists that draw the grand spectacle of a massive crowd, and equally nurturing the up-and-comers.
The Rad stage, wedged between two science buildings, provided a sweaty intimacy, while food trucks lined the festival's parameters. The new site also provided more spots for revellers to put their feet up (my favourties being the Young Henrys Pub and La La's Bar, as well as the VIP section's massage tent...)
A strong presence of homegrown talent, including The Terry's, The Vanns, and Pirri, graced the stages on day one, as well as Teen Jesus and The Jean Teasers' with their emotional, throat-tearing singalongs.
Sunday's lineup showcased Vera Blue, Meg Mac, Earl Sweatshirt, and Chet Faker.
Alt-rock-pop groover Oliver Tree stole the hearts of festivalgoers before Pendulum, one of the biggest electronic bands of all time, took to the main stage.
Much-loved electronic duo Flight Facilities wrapped up the party with their Decades DJ set.
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