FESTIVAL REVIEW: Wildflower Festival, Brisbane Riverstage, 19/03/2022

Kate Miller-Heidke

Words by Emily Hollitt {Emily Hollitt – Content Writer + Malina Claire}

All photos by Mark Chandler – full gallery HERE

*** Please always credit our photographers when sharing their work on social media – do not edit their images, and ask permission first before using their images for any other purposes. ***

From the moment I stepped into Wildflower Festival, I was already impressed; even queuing to enter the venue was lovely! The ladies in the crowd were friendly and excited. The line moved quickly, getting through to the festival and the sprawling, green Riverstage lawn in no time. The, unsurprisingly, mostly female, crowd spread themselves across the hill, settling in to celebrate some of the country’s most accomplished women in music. The atmosphere felt much more relaxed, calming, and safer than other large-scale events I had attended.

Caitlin Shadbolt opened the show completely solo. Standing dead front and centre on the massive festival stage, she may have looked tiny, but her presence was huge; she captivated the crowd as a full band would with only her voice, guitar, and stomp box. “It feels great to leave the house” she said, before leading into her track Bones which she had penned in early 2020. Written about following your dreams despite what life throws at you, the song was an empowering track to start the day. “This is my ‘I don’t need a man’ song” she said, introducing her sassy self-love anthem My Breakup Song. “I’m gonna sing ‘na na na’ and then you sing ‘hey!‘” she said, inviting crowd involvement. “Sing it like someone just took the last Tim Tam”.

An attention-grabbing kick and snare pattern opened Alice Skye’s set, an elongated version of the first track to her latest album Stay In Bed. Filled with relatable lyrics detailing her own anxieties, the song was a comforting and vulnerable way to start her set. She led her 4-piece with confidence; her band played tightly together, complimenting her brilliant song writing. Announcing herself as a proud Wergaia/ Wemba Wemba woman—which was met by loud crowd applause—she posed how happy she was to be able to travel and perform in Meanjin again. “I’m excited to be on the same line-up with people I looked up to” she said, claiming to have had lyrics from the other artists on her wall! Her performance of I Feel Better But I Don’t Feel Good and Party Tricks were her set’s highlights. It was during Skye’s performance, however, where the animations on the large screen behind the artists started to amp up with distracting, overstimulating visuals which didn’t compliment the music at all.

Alice Skye

Deborah Conway followed next, opting to perform as an acoustic duo with long-time collaborator Willy Zygier. The two had excellent stage chemistry, their voices harmonising together beautifully. Conway was charismatic in her stage banter; she was the best in the show for crowd interaction. “Did you know what you wanted to be when you were 13?” she asked the crowd, picking out a member of the audience and learning more about them. She played a multitude of tracks spanning throughout her accomplished career including the emotional Serpent’s Tooth and the upbeat I Need To Complain. The set did feel a little flat after Skye’s full band performance, but the chemistry between the two performers kept it just as lively; the mutual love and respect between the pair was apparent.

Deborah Conway

After walking through the festival—and using the cleanest portaloos I’d ever seen in my whole life—it was time for The Waif’s Vikki Thorn and her band ThornBird to play. Honing a harmonica to compliment her powerhouse voice, her performance was captivating from start to end. At the request of her sister-in-law to write something more upbeat, she played Bullets And Heartache, a highlight of the set. My personal favourite was her uplifting banger Big Girl Pants, based off the small phrase of putting on your metaphorical ‘big girl pants’ to tackle rough days and life’s challenges. The set was overall energetic and captivating; you can consider me a new fan!


Powerhouse vocalist Sarah Blasko was up next. Playing tracks spanning throughout her long, successful career, her live renditions sounded no different than her studio versions, possibly even better! Her high belts were breathtaking, sung without struggle or a note out of the place. Her presence was captivating, as she didn’t just sing the songs, but performed them. From the catchy We Won’t Run to the sombre Down on Love, she sang each track flawlessly; she’s a truly seasoned performer. The dark, brooding No Turning Back was the standout of the set, showing a different, darker side to the artist and her sound. Unfortunately, the animations were cranked up during her set. At one point, the footage of Blasko was in a rotating oval, colour graded in a hot pink topped with a high exposure filter while stock footage of somebody playing golf played in the background? It was very distracting, almost pulling my focus entirely away from the performance. The crowd didn’t seem to notice too much, completely enthralled by her presence.

Sarah Blasko

Next up was Kate Miller-Heidke, the act I was the most excited for; her 2008 album ‘Curiouser’ was one of the first albums I ever owned! Although her vocal mic seemed a bit quiet at the very beginning of the set, the quality was quickly restored before her set opener had finished, gelling with the incredible mix and balance of the preceding acts. She wore a beautiful floor length gold dress, complimenting her elegant acoustic band which featured live strings! “It’s the opposite of a cock forest out there!” she exclaimed jokingly to the mostly female crowd. She played all the classics from my childhood The Last Day On Earth and Caught In The Crowd as well as her vocally impressive Eurovision track Zero Gravity. To finish her set, she was joined by her son Ernie, who busted some sweet moves as his mother sang her heart out. She reminisced on how she had asked him if he “wanted to see mummy and daddy perform tonight?” to which he had responded with “Nah, only if you play one or two songs MAX!“. The set finished on one of her earliest and most upbeat tracks, Words.

Kate Miller-Heidke

Highlight of the set was her latest single, a collaboration with Jaguar Jonze, You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore. Detailing how she felt after the death of her great grandfather, who had sexually abused her as a child, the song details “dancing on the grave of an asshole“. I found myself deeply moved by the song. Although it’s unfortunate how Kate had that experience to write something so harrowing, I’m grateful for women like her who channel their experiences to connect and comfort with listeners who have experienced the same. I’m sure very woman in the crowd had some way to connect. I know I did.

I’m so excited I think a little bit of pee came out!” proclaimed country music icon Kasey Chambers. She was giggly and excitable; she seemed truly grateful to be there. Her set was lively and fun, playing a variety of original tracks including, of course, her biggest hit Am I Not Pretty Enough?. She performed other staples of her long-spanning career including Pony and her self-proclaimed “favourite song to play live“, The Captain. She shared the stage with her long-time guitarist and collaborator Brandon Dodd, who she said originally sang with her on her track Satellite before he was replaced with multiple Grammy award winner and global superstar Ed Sheeran. “I didn’t want him to replace you, but he did.” she said “Every night I get to replace Ed Sheeran and every night you are cheaper!“.

Kasey Chambers

As the hill filled from top to bottom with eager music lovers, it was finally time for the night’s headliner, the incredible Missy Higgins. “Nothing against boys” she said, looking upon the mammoth crowd currently enraptured by her presence, “it’s just really nice to have ladies around!“. On the track Total Control, which was written for a TV she of the same show, she spoke highly of lead actress Deborah Mailman. “She walks in parliament, and she really shakes things up. We really need more of that.”. Her set, which included a duet with preceding act Kate Miller-Heidke, was captivating from beginning to end, a brilliant ending to a brilliant day.

Missy Higgins

Her performance of I Take It Back was the most powerful moments of the whole festival. “I don’t feel afraid to speak my truth anymore. The #MeToo Movement has turned into something so much bigger… I’m so inspired by this new generation.” she spoke highly of the work of Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame who have both been incredible advocates for women’s safety. I felt really moved by this performance; it allowed me to resurface difficult feelings in a safe environment; enveloped by a crowd I knew understood how I felt lead by an artist who articulated those feelings beautifully.

Of course, she played staples of her career Scar, The Special Two and Steer, all songs which had shaped my childhood that I was so excited to finally hear live! Hearing each track felt nostalgic and melancholic; it was an incredible way to finish an incredible festival.

As I left, I felt inspired to have felt every word sang by those powerhouse women; to have danced with a crowd of likeminded people and feel inspired by the accomplishments of some of the most incredible women to grace the Australian music industry (and, of course, to band together to take over the men’s bathrooms!). I hope Wildflower Festival continues to be a yearly tradition. I can’t wait to see how this event grows and develops in years to come.

With thanks to On The Map PR

Leave a Reply