With a new year, a scorching day and hangover to contend with, it was Chet Faker, who had the chance to soothe the sizeable crowd. Taking the stage with his three piece touring band, it was heartening to see them positioned in a straight line, ensuring all members were given equal importance.
Falls Festival is an undeniable institute in the Australian music industry, and it was with great excitement that the third installment was introduced. However, the inaugural Byron Bay rendition was by no means a smooth experience - but wrinkles are expected in any newborn. At times, the dusty camping site looked more like a post-apocalyptic refugee camp than the resting place of thousands of festival revellers. There were insufficient toilet and shower blocks resulting in lengthy lines at any given time of the day. Drinks were mid-strengthened and full-priced, only further encouraging alcohol smuggling in future years. Yet in saying all of that, Falls Festival Byron Bay was an irrefutable success.
Splendour in the Grass might be all about the music and the mud, but no other music festival I've been to have provided so much to do for those seeking a break from the bands.
Winter festivals are far from an easy exercise to put yourself through, especially ones that run multi-days. When you think about it, it's quite remarkable Splendour in the Grass has become the popular event it has, line-ups irrespective. I guess people are just gluttons for punishment. I feel this way after every Splendour.
Babyshambles was one of the many fantastic acts that played on the first day of Splendour In The Grass festival at the new site of North Byron Parklands. Acts include Baptism Of Uzi, Darwin Deez, Daughter, Deap Vally, Dune Rats, HAIM, Klaxons, Mumford And Sons, Portugal. The Man, Robert DeLong and TV On The Radio. Photos by Ian Laidlaw
Heading through the Splendour gates for a stellar second day of music, I fought my way through the deep sinking mud, only slightly dried out from the churning it received the day before, and the array of floral headbands to end up at Palma Violets taking second slot for the day in the Supertop on their first trip Down Under.
The sun was out as more than 17,500 punters descended on North Byron Parklands, the permanent Splendour in the Grass site for the first time, for a day headlined by past festival favourites Mumford and Sons. Situated about 20 minutes north of Byron Bay, this is the site the Splendour organisers bought to be the event's home quite a few years ago, though has been caught in council approval hell ever since. This resulted in two glorious years in Woodford and a brief return to Belongil Fields down the road last year. But, much like Bluesfest before it, we now have the chance to get used to a brand new site, which will no doubt grow and develop in the years to come; as it will do by pure capacity alone. As part of the deal with council, the festival is starting off with a reduced capacity this year, and will add more patrons gradually (by the thousands) in the years to come, with 25,000 being the reported capacity that will be allowed in 2014. We'll even be seeing a series of other events on the site, such as the recently announced Byron Falls Festival over New Years.
And just like that we'd once again come to the end of the Byron Bay Bluesfest. As the event's fifth day, it's fair to say that by now we were both exhausted and used to the exciting lifestyle that the festival offers. It's never an easy event to say goodbye to, especially after a year that housed one of its best lineups ever, and was without a doubt the best Bluesfest we've ever attended. Although my sore, sore feet beg to differ.
Byron Bay Bluesfest 2013 closes out Day 5 with another stellar lineup that includes Ben Howard, Royal Southern Brotherhood, Bonnie Raitt (pictured above), The Music Maker Blues Revue, Xavier Rudd, Paul Simon, The Lumineers, Melbourne Ska Orchestra and The Bamboos.
The final day of Byron Bay Bluesfest 2013 starts with Kim Churchill, Newton Faulkner, Current Swell, Allen Stone, Kitty Daisy & Lewis (pictured above) and Zac Brown Band. Photos by Johnny Au
Day Four of Bluesfest, on Easter Sunday, kicked off with a bang with an explosive performance by Mason Rock Band as they delivered raucous Aussie blues rock. Featuring an intense mix of percussion, double bass, guitars and boisterous vocals, the band played to a packed out tent filled with enthusiastic listeners. Bringing out a whole lot of cheek, these guys put on a stomping, all Aussie show.
Byron Bay Bluesfest 2013 Day 4 photo gallery continues with acts such as Bettye Lavette, Rufus Wainwright, The Lumineers, Fat Freddy's Drop and The Cat Empire (pictured above). Photos by Johnny Au
Byron Bay Bluesfest 2013 Day 4 photo gallery starts off with artists such as Grey Ghost, Allen Toussaint, Saskwatch, Jon Anderson and Roger Hodgson (pictured above). Photos by Johnny Au
The third day of the festival was full of a pile of treats, and one of the biggest names in the history of music headlining the day - the one and only Robert Plant (pictured - photo by Johnny Au). The high energy reggae grooves of Soja - one of the biggest bands of the genre from the USA - were playing as we entered the venue, with "Not Done Yet" proving a highlight.
The AU Review's photo coverage of Byron Bay Bluesfest 2013 continues with performances by Playing For Change, Status Quo, Beasts Of Bourbon, Ruthie Foster, The Blind Boys Of Alabama, Dropkick Murphys, Robert Plant And The Sensational Space Shifters (pictured above) and Iggy & The Stooges. Photos by Johnny Au.