Photos by Rashid Alkamraikhi
The Other Festival has been and gone for 2021 but shall remain etched in the memories of not just those who were there, but for the Australian music loving public at large for a long time to come.
Rather than focus on the bands who performed – of which there was not one even slightly disappointing set of the day – this review will serve as an overview of what is ultimately the rebirth of live music on a large scale in Australia.
Since the advent of COVID some 12 months ago the world at large has been thrown into turmoil but perhaps the most hardest hit of all has been the music industry.
Livelihoods were stripped overnight from everyone ranging from artists to managers to agents to road crew to venues, some not surviving the fallout.
While music will always endure, the people who comprise the backbone and day to day output of music be it large or small scale have suffered immeasurably.
The music-loving public rightfully bemoan the dearth of live concerts, with the fallout inevitably causing mass destruction on a global scale.
Bands and promotors have understandably been reluctant to plan anything on the live or touring front with so many variables to contend with and when The Other Festival was announced towards the end of last year I must admit I had reservations about the timing and likelihood of success.
To the credit of organisers and the venue – Fortitude Music Hall – they went out on a limb and put their faith in the metal Gods and organized a large scale live music event featuring bands from most corners of the country. In a time when most – and understandably so – were waiting for more positive signs before committing to such an event, Nobody Presents set about assembling a formidable line-up of national heavyweights and pushed forward despite the risk.
The public responded in kind, snapping up tickets with social media buzzing in the lead up to the event.
Live music was back on a large scale. Sure, the internationals were missing, but this was the time for Australian bands to shine.
And so the waiting game began. Waiting to see if the show would proceed, waiting to see if all of the acts would be permitted to cross borders to play and waiting to see if the public would be prepared to venture out into an environment that was until recently deemed unsafe.
To say the day went off without a hitch would be a lie. To the disappointment of everyone RedHook were unable to take their place in the line-up due to a COVID scare for one of the members but aside from that The Other Festival delivered on every front.
The crowd swelled to almost capacity as the day wore on and the bands looked genuinely humbled and grateful for the rapturous applause afforded nearly every song.
The bands all mingled freely with the crowd, manning merch desks and catching up with friends and fans that they had not seen or conversed with beyond a phone or computer screen for the better part of a year.
Ego’s were checked at the door and the overwhelming feeling of joy that only live music can impart was so prevalent you could almost literally feel it.
This was more than just a live concert or music festival. It was a celebration of music and a defiant fuck you to anything that tries to come between fan and music.
It was a bold statement that we WILL overcome any obstacle put in front of us and music is a uniting force unlike any other.
It was a celebration of triumph over adversity and a display of solidarity that should ignite hope the world over that no matter how bad things are at any given point there is always light – or music – at the end of the tunnel.
While the music family is by no means ahead of the global curve it has been buoyed by the reality that it is okay to dream. It is okay to hope.
And together we shall survive.