I’ve spent a large portion of my live in the Hills District – a little place in North West Sydney that looks eerily similar to The Truman Show suburbia. Growing up, there were little outlets for us musical lovers, who were forced into the city as a means to garner a musical education. That’s why I was so excited by the whole concept of Sounds of the Suburbs – bands from around the world congregating in a laneway in South Sydney’s Cronulla to share a bit of what helped them formulate their musical style — their home.
If you were to pinpoint the sound of my suburb, it would be those emo hardcore bands that plagued the late 00’s – donned in black, with fringes as long as my tresses. What Cronulla had in those days – I imagine – would have been beach goth music. So if my hypothetical 00’s Cronulla is anything to go by, Sounds of the Suburbs has taken this ethos on, showcasing bands that surf by day, hit the Inner West at night, and overall, don’t take things too seriously.
When I arrived at Wilbar Lane I was genuinely surprised at the accuracy of the festivals statements – the three stages were cramped into this tiny laneway, only 30 seconds apart from each other. The crowd was filled with your typical beaches guys and girls, both sexes rocking the same blonde haircut and tie-dyed shirt. Usually I get a bit irritated by small crowded spaces, but the people here were SO goddamn nice and laid-back – asking me to get in photos and openly offering cigarettes – that it was impossible to become exasperated at them.
The band selection was obviously meticulously thought out, each one bringing a huge stage presence and amplifying the excitement of the punters. The Lazys succeeded in bringing back the Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll ethos, rocking the guitar on the rooftop of the carpark to the eternal delight of the crowd, who threw drinks in the air in approval.
Over at the main stage, The Garden– hailing from Orange County, California – pumped out raw, filthy tunes that become almost impossible to really define. There was a touch of post-punk and a bit of Western twang, infused with hip hop and electronic elements that, upon being mixed together in the perfect ratio, disregarded all genre ideals and created one of their own.
But it was upstairs at the El Sol Stage where the festival really thrived. Surrounded by Mexican and Corona paraphernalia, the bands here really channeled those underground beach grunge vibes that make it impossible not to dance. Melbourne’s Mesa Cosa epitomised this sentiment; in their endeavour to not take themselves too seriously, they were hanging microphones from lights and throwing tambourines on the ground, creating a real intimate stage presence that made it impossible to walk away from. When I had a chat with the frontman Pablo a few hours later, he explained to me how he would make fun of the bands that took the music industry really seriously, reiterating that the reason why their lives shows are so electrifying is because they just want to have fun. I can definitely drink to that.
As the lane turned to darkness, the female fronted band, The Dandelion, lit it back up with their 60’s inspired musical spells. Despite the two idiots behind me that seemed incredibly bewildered that women too, could play music, the crowd absolutely lapped up their iconic sound.
In its third year, there’s no doubt as to why Sounds of the Suburbs is succeeding time and time again. They found a gap in the Sydney music scene and have filled it, offering talent that extends just beyond just the inner city of Sydney. As someone from the suburbs, they make me actually slightly proud to have come from where I am, as opposed to lying and saying I live in Marrickville. Thanks for making me realise that there’s more to Cronulla than just beaches (I hate beaches).