While us Australians might be green with envy at some of the bigger international music festivals, such as Coachella and Lollapalooza, it’s time to remember that we’ve had more than our fair share of awesome headline acts and multiple day festivals in some of regional Australia’s most beautiful locales.
Unfortunately for some, not all have survived over the years, so join us as we take a retrospective look at some of our country’s most beloved music festivals that hung up the towel just a little too soon.
Sunbury Pop Festival
Held on a private farm between Sunbury and Digger’s Rest on none other than Australia Day, Sunbury Pop might take the unofficial title for the most Aussie, Aussie music festival.
Despite being home to a variety of household names such as Deep Purple, AC/DC, and even Queen, the festival only ran for a brief four years, between 1972 to 1975, to which the final year suffered a substantial financial loss, due to a lack of attendance.
Getting its start in Byron Bay and the University of Sydney in 1996, Homebake was a proudly national festival, with a predominately Australian lineup consisting of more popular acts such as Gotye and Silverchair side by side with the likes of Parkway Drive and The Butterfly Effect, showcasing the festival’s range and diversity. It was sadly cancelled in 2013, with no word of any attempt at revival.
Pushover was most well-known for being Melbourne’s only drug and alcohol-free, all ages music festival. Catering towards a younger demographic was what made it stand out amongst the competition, as it sported an impressive rock and metal dominated lineup home to the likes of Deez Nuts, Parkway Drive, Kisschasy, Break Even and countless others.
Due to a severe drop in tickets sales it was cancelled in 2014, with most of the acts playing at the Australian rendition of the Vans Warped Tour just a year prior.
Until its untimely end in 2012, Parklife was one of Australia’s longest running music festivals, bringing with it a slew of trending bands as well as a handful of DJ sets – combining two of Australia’s most popular sounds into one festival that toured nationally.
Hosting the likes of Flume, Tame Impala, Kimbra, The Streets and many more, Parklife was a widely loved festival that ran for close to 13 years, upon which point it was retired and later rebranded as Listen Out.
Future Music Festival
Drug-related controversy and notoriety aside, Future Music Festival has had a successful run in bringing over a smorgasbord of dance and electro, among other popular acts, including The Prodigy, Zane Lowe, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, and the Hilltop Hoods.
Despite staggering popularity, it was a regular hotspot for various drug arrests, and it was announced shortly after the 2015 festival that it would not be returning in following years.
No Sleep Til
A one-off festival comprised of metal, punk and hardcore that toured Australia and New Zealand in 2010, No Sleep Til was home to a wide variety of favourites, including Australia’s Parkway Drive and Frenzal Rhomb, and international heavyweights like NOFX and August Burns Red.
Headlined by none other than Megadeth, who played Rust In Peace in its entirety, as well as punk legends The Descendents, who made their Australian debut performance at the festival, it’s a surprise that No Sleep Til didn’t return for another year.
Taking place annually in February across Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, and the Gold Coast, Good Vibrations had an expansive roster under its belt that was dominated by a variety of popular hip hop and R&B artists including Cypress Hill, Nas, Salt-N-Pepa, Erykah Badu, Kid Cudi among others.
After the 2011 festival lost two headliners in the form of Janelle Monáe and Cee-Lo Green, festival coordinator Justin Hemmes stated that the festival would take a year off, with plans to re-emerge in 2013, but as of yet nothing further has been announced.
Big Day Out
Maybe an obvious choice, but there’s no denying the impact that Big Day Out has made on our country over the years. Starting in 1992 in Sydney and expanding all across Australia and even New Zealand in subsequent years, Big Day Out was home to a varied roster of both national and international acts, attracting a crowd from all different music backgrounds.
Festival promoter AJ Maddah made the announcement concerning the unfortunate cancellation of Harvest Festival 2013, stating that he had previously expressed a “crisis of confidence about the whole event” due to a lack of interest and poor ticket sales.
Despite boasting an impressive lineup for the year, including Primus, Massive Attack, Franz Ferdinand, Eels, and even indie legends Neutral Milk Hotel, the festival failed to gain the traction it needed and was cancelled with a bleak chance at a return.
Not to be confused with the Southbank based Arts festival, Summersalt, Summersault Festival was a one-of music festival that toured during the summer of 1995-1996.
Sporting an impressive lineup of hard rock and punk, including the likes of Bodyjar, Rancid, The Beastie Boys, Sonic Youth, Beck, and countless others depending on each state and region, Summersault was a recognised success. Yet, despite talk for a bigger and better lineup than the following year, Summersault mysteriously didn’t return.
Displaying a strong lineup of alternative rock between 1989 and 2003, Livid Festival was home to some of Australia’s favourites, including The Living End, Powderfinger, Grinspoon, Regurgitator, as well as a heavy rotation of international acts.
In later years, Livid unfortunately came into direct competition with Homebake and Big Day Out Festivals, resulting in less headline acts that were made available, and despite promise that Livid would return in 2005, the festival has not been held since.