Young Henry’s Small World Festival celebrates the four essential things in life – booze, music, food, and good mates. Set for the first time in St Peters’ iconic Sydney Park, the festival specialises in everything good that’s local, solidifying itself as one of those events that are really important to the Sydney arts and culture scene.
It only seems fitting for Newtown legends Young Henry’s to cure everyone’s thirst, a job that they did not take lightly. To my eternal delight, there was a huge range of their products, including the Hop Ale, Real Ale, Natural Lager and my poison of choice, the Cloudy Cider, all ranging at $8-$9. Not a fan of beer? Small World have still got you covered; Young Henry’s were also offering their Noble Cut Gin with grapefruit or mint, whilst the Jameson tent boasted the most refreshing scotch, dry & lime that I think I’ve ever had. Their new brew Caskmates was also an interesting one – whiskey distilled in old craft beer barrels – however it seemed to be drowned out by the taste of mint.
Those who were peckish were in for more than a treat, with Mary’s, Bloodwood, Cornersmith, Porteno, and Oxford Tavern’s Black Betty BBQ offering festival food like you’ve never seen it before. I’m used to buying shitty hot chips that cost $14 a pop, but none of that bullshit was here today. I opted for Porteno’s Roast Pork Belly with BBQ’d Savoy Slaw and 1000 Island Sauce (pictured above) for a neat $12, a sandwich that has well-and-truly changed my life. If you don’t think a sandwich can change someone’s life, you haven’t been to Porteno. The Pork Belly was cooked to perfection, and the combination of slaw and 1000 island sauce made for some finger lickin’ magic. My parter opted for Black Betty’s Pulled Pork Roll, a monster of a thing that cashed in for only 12 dollaridoos. As the day progressed and I was getting hungrier – and, let’s be honest, a whole lot drunker – I caved and got the classic Cheeseburger from Mary’s, the line far longer than any other stand, predictably.
Pictured: All Our Exes Live in Texas
The lineup – though slightly mismatched – offered something for everyone. The Lulu Rays, Green Buzzard, & Summer Flake soundtracked the early hours of the festival well, creating a laidback atmosphere with a friendly ambience. Most punters were sitting in the spring sunshine on picnic rugs, taking in the bands in a relaxed way whilst nursing a beer. Their attention was quickly navigated toBon Voyage, the SPOD-fronted Bon Scott-era AC/DC cover band, who proudly proclaimed, “Fuck you Brian Johnson!” All Our Exes Live In Texas (or Newtown) eased us into the night with their beautiful folk melodies and tears over heartbreak. When I bumped into them a little later, I embarrassingly declared that they “made me sad, but like, a happy sad” (just imagine it’s delivery under the incapacitation of ten odd lagers).
Sydney’s Palms brought everyone off their picnic rugs and onto the dance floor with their unmistakable charm, bringing in the good vibes. But it was Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders (pictured below) who stole the show – the crowd showing a relentless enthusiasm for their sound who was described to me by a drunk gentleman next to me as “Nick Cave but Tame Impalaed”. So yes, Jack Ladder, you can put that nice piece on your next album cover. Their mix between alternative rock style and electronic was one to electrify the masses, feeling everything that multi-genre’d music can offer.
I’ve never been a huge fan of electronic music – my senses get overwhelmed and I find the experience completely and utterly confusing. Though I must admit, PVT took my hesitance to a genre and (eloquently) shat on it, reiterating that I know as much as Jon Snow. DZ Deathrays (pictured below) kept the energy pumping, smashing out banger after banger, encouraging every intoxicated person around to succumb to their inner dancing prowess.
Finally, Australian legends The Church finished off the day with a set that would make any fan melt. Though, I must admit, I think their importance was lost on a few, the venue already unfortunately emptying. This shouldn’t be an indicator of their status (because, quite frankly, they’re already royalty) but more the types of bands that Small World should be looking at in the future. Being a relatively new festival, they’re still finding their feet. The guys at Young Henry’s exceed in every way, except finding a cohesive lineup that intersect with each other without too much disturbance. What we were given however, is a celebration of the diversity that Sydney and Australia as a whole offers the musical world.