Out On The Weekend Festival 22 Reviewed
Out On The Weekend
8 October 2022
Seaworks, Williamstown, Melbourne, Australia
Images by Jim Jacob
Words by Rob Dickens
Festivals are never just about the music. Or shouldn’t be.
Organisers of Out On The Weekend (OOTW), Love Police know this in abundance and have curated an event that has balanced successfully the dynamic inputs that make OOTW the most desirable alt. country pilgrimage of the year. This year was, in fact, its eighth successful iteration.
I swear ninety percent of Melbourne’s cowboy hats were there (some without their owners!). Not to mention the glorious colour and finery of some glorious Western wear shirts, music-adorned T-shirts, feathers and the odd buck skin. Festival host Jonny Fritz was easy to spot with a perfectly-fitted canary yellow suit (help me ladies if I’ve got this wrong, I have been told I’m colour-blind). Boots a-plenty (yes, maam!), bold buckles on generous belts (howdy!) and even the odd bolero.
Expansive vintage cars were on display down near the water and were a beautiful sight, once you tore your eyes away from the gob-smacking view back at the city. My favourite was the 1958 Chevrolet Biscayne, pale blue and white, a classic design (my Dad owned the next year’s model so some extra appeal for me). Thanks to the owner for sharing some time with me.
As well as artist and festival merch, there was vinyl from Cheersquad Records and graceful clothing from Route 66. Food-wise, plenty from which to choose – Zsa’s Deli, Hank’s Fancy BBQ, Beatbox Kichen, Taco Truck and the wonderful addition of the Country Women’s Association stall where you could get a cup of tea in a dainty china cup, scones, jam and cream, an assortment of delicious looking biscuits/cakes and even some sandwiches.
Throughout the day, I tried the Chicken Burrito (tasty and filling), shared a cheese, meat and pickled vegetable platter (thanks Jim!) and snaffled the very last CWA sandwich of the day – ham and pickles (sorry everyone, it really hit the spot!). Drink-wise, the choices were excellent and of quality, although I baulked at the $18 modest-sized margarita.
Artists not on the Bill, festival organisers, venue managers and other industry types were there to observe and enjoy the day. Add a bunch of music-loving friends floating around, taking advantage of fortuitously bumping into many of them and a packed music schedule meant it was impossible to go 100% music listening. So, overall, again OOTW proved to be a unique gathering place and a sure-fired means to enjoy the music in different ways, from total immersion leaning on the stage, to elsewhere in the thick of the audience, to chatting outside with the glorious music wafting in the background.
Musically, the late withdrawal of Watchhouse due to a medical emergency (we wish them all the best!) had a real impact on the balance of the line-up. But there were still plenty of highlights:
- discovering the Melbourne six-piece Sweet Talk and its charasmatic lead singer Tane Walker – rhythm and soul with striking harmonies a la Little Feat and Doobie Brothers
- Sierra Ferrell‘s stunning closing set of traditional country, gypsy and Western swing. Her three-piece band of violin, mandolin and double bass were stellar
- the Dead Necks faithful renditions of Grateful Dead songs over two sets were terrific but their contribution to the Neil Young Harvest tribute was even more striking and peaked at a stunning take on “Words” with Evan Sillence‘s blazing guitar memorable
- Shane O’Mara‘s band and Lisa Miller‘s vocals were swooning and impeccable
- the drive and slow groove of the Alex Hamilton Band
- the liveliness of Foggy Notion
- a welcome taste of bluegrass/old time from the talented Collingwood Casanovas
- and the Extreme Stamina Award goes to … acoustic, electric and pedal steel guitarist Tom Brooks who, rumour has it, played between three and twelve times during the day – not only is he tough, but he is bloody good.
I may be wrong, but I believe that Melbourne is still feeling the effects of being a lockdown-prone city, with some mental scarring remaining. Musically, we’re getting back on our feet and, undoubtedly, a lively and colourful Out On The Weekend is another big recovery step for us all.
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Out On The Weekend Festival 22 Reviewed