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This Is Northern New South Wales

Splendour in the grass – 2016

In December 1977 I fell in love with live music. I was seven years old when Keven and Karen Oxford and their business partners promoted Richard Clapton to play a gig at what was my Grandparents place, The Everglades, now The Byron at Byron. They expected 200 to 300 people, and over 3000 turned up! They didn’t have adequate security so they decided to do a Woodstock and let everyone in for free. For me it was my first ever live concert, it implanted in me a lifelong love of music and music photography. For some locals it set the scene for their first date and marriage proposals and many locals still remember that night fondly.

The same team hosted the first ever outdoor music festival in the region at “Globetrotters” (now Elements) on Australia Day 1978. It was called Sunrock 78 and had Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs headlining with Sydney & Brisbane punk/new wave bands supporting and 2JJ presenting with 3000-4000 punters.

After a five-year hiatus they opened The Piggery, Byron Bay Arts Factory and for nearly ten years had 100’s of International acts play there. I saw everybody from Midnight Oil to the Violent Femmes and Public Image Ltd at the venue and was there for the very first East Coast Blues and Roots Festival.

Walking around the Splendour in the Grass site last weekend was like a flashback to the childhood and teenage memories I hold so dear. World class music acts performing in my home town. The weather was spectacular the atmosphere was electric, and everyone was buzzing with the joy of being able to see world class acts on a world class site right here in The Byron Shire.

Yes it can cause momentary traffic issues and queues at Woolies, but, Splendour in the grass and celebrations of music and the arts are a big part of Byron Shires DNA. They are a big part of what makes our home special. It is why a lot of people moved here……to embrace our unique culture, a culture that should continue to be embraced and loved for all of the overwhelmingly positive opportunities and outcomes that it brings our community.
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I am one of the fortunate few to be able to stand in the media pit with other photographers only 10ft or so away from the best music acts in the world and live my passion photographing them. There is nothing that can describe the feeling like I experienced on Friday night when The Strokes walked on stage, and there were over 20,000 people screaming with happiness right behind me. The feeling is so joyous and uplifting it is like a drug, and you are high for days afterwards.

So thank you again to the hardworking crew at Splendour in the Grass for delivering yet another epic festival and continuing to keep the Byron Shire firmly rooted in its almost 40 years of amazing music festival history. How lucky we are to have you.

A big thank you to our newest contributing photographer Ruby Thomas for capturing the feel of the festival as she wandered through the crowd all weekend.
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