FESTIVAL REVIEW: Under The Southern Stars, Brisbane Riverstage, 27/03/2022

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

All photos* by Elizabeth Sharpe // IG : @ummagummamumma

*Full gallery to come

*** 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. ***

I walked through the botanic gardens, taking in the calm and serenity, on my way to the final leg of Under The Southern Stars, a festival which promoted the exact opposite; hard, heavy rock.  Now, I knew I wouldn’t exactly fit the target audience of the gig. My exposure to the bands on the bill would be much different than that of much of the crowd. I knew this music mostly from my parents CD collections and listening to Rebel FM in my mum’s car on the way to school. Although it may ruin my childhood argument that the albums I bought as a kid, like Justin Bieber’s ‘My World 2.0’ held just as much merit as ‘the classics’ my parents grew up with, I will admit, I was, and still am, a big fan of the ‘dad rock’ genre. Just don’t tell them I said this.

I walked into the venue just before the first act of the day, Electric Mary, graced the stage. Loud, heavy guitars took over the speakers as the band stepped out with confidence, making the stage their own. Right from the get-go, I was blown away by the sheer power of lead vocalist Rusty Brown’s voice. “You good? You done with the overflowing water?” he joked to the crowd before pulling out an urn. “I’d like to introduce you to my dad. I haven’t seen him in four years!”. The urn stayed on stage with him for the rest of the set.

“I want you to close your eyes and I don’t want you to believe you’re in 2022. I want you to believe you’re in 1972. In 1972 when I went to see a band play… well, I wasn’t alive. But this is what happened. The audience and the band were one. The crew and the band were one.”

And that’s exactly the feeling their set created. In the words of our photographer Elizabeth Sharpe “That’s the most fun I’ve had with an opener in years!”

Dressed in matching Hawaiian shirts, Rose Tattoo were next to hit the stage. As soon as the music started, they absolutely owned their space. Opening with ‘Outta This Place’ the crowd already began rushing to the stage to dance along with the music. The energy stayed up for their full set, playing classics such as Juice One The Loose and We Can’t Be Beaten. I loved the tom-heavy intro and blues-inspired guitars in Sweet Love Rock ‘n’ Roll. By the end of the set, the crowd were well and truly pumped up and ready for an incredible day of music.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club played next, a group I hadn’t heard of before (well, despite they’re banger on the New Moon soundtrack). But I was happily surprised; their music really stood out as something a little different compared to the rest of the acts; rock with a more blues-inspired sound and feel. Although they were only a 3-piece, their sound was full and lively. The guitars teased into opening track Red Eyes And Tears as the crowd was already totally enamored by their performance. With a dark, eerie, early 2000s rock sound, I was a huge fan of what they were doing and was VERY jealous of the lucky fan who caught the tambourine that was thrown into the crowd during Ain’t No Easy Way. Playing a range of tracks from their extensive career including Beat The Devil’s Tattoo and Spread Your Love, I was engaged consistently throughout the set.

As the sun began to go down, it was time for the second half of the festival, moving towards the headline acts. Loud toms sounded as red and white lights flashed. Opening with The Kingdom, Bush captivated the audience straight away. The top of the hill began to empty as the crowd moved towards the dance floor. The band commented on the last two “terrible years.” “We had to quarantine… it was insane” said singer Gavin Rossdale, commenting on the state of the world. Making their way through all the hits including Quicksand and Blood River, the band put on a truly spectacular set. And the incredible work of the lighting guys made the set already impressive set even better.

The mood of the venue shifted to complete excitement as Cheap Trick took to the stage. Dressed in their usual loud and proud stage outfits, mostly in white from head to toe, the crowd went wild to see one of the greatest rock groups of all time play. “It’s great to be back here in Australia. Can we have light on the audience? What a great looking bunch!.” The legendary group acknowledged their latest record In Another World which is the 20th studio album ever produced by the band. Highlight of the set for me was when they stripped back to an acoustic rendition of The Flame, before the rest of the band joined in; an intimate rendition of one of the band’s most iconic hits. Stone Temple Pilots vocalist Jeff Gutt joined the group on stage to sing I Want You To Want Me. Dream Police and Surrender followed closely after. It’s difficult to find the words to paint how cool it felt to hear these songs I grew up with come to life right before my eyes.

Finally, it was time for closing act Stone Temple Pilots and they were nothing short of fantastic. Opening with the instantly recognisable guitars to Wicked Garden, the crowd was hyped up from the previous set with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Flowing from the lively sounds of tracks like Interstate Love Song to the smooth, slow sounds of Big Empty the band proved they could do it all! We’d narrowly avoided rain at the outdoor stage but, about halfway through the set, it started to bucket down. And it was nothing short of magical.

Standing with a group of strangers for one of the first times in years, dancing in the rain to rock music. The energy at the venue was amazing and, as it ended, the crowd was happy, cheerful, and grateful to have been present at this incredible celebration of rock ‘n’ roll.

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With thanks to Maric Media

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