A review of triple j’s Beat The Drum festival

On Friday the 16th, I went to The Domain in Sydney and got some snaps of Triple J’s Beat The Drum, a massive party that they decided to throw for the 40th anniversary since Double Jay hit the Australian airwaves.

The Domain was only just recovering from the 25,000 people trampling across it for Field Day a fortnight earlier, but the legends managed to keep the place looking fresh, and gave The Domain a new look by draping it in triple j logos and putting up some massive TV screens.

Beat The Drum was a single stage event, broadcast around the entire country live, and triple j did a pretty great job of making sure there was never a boring moment. It was unlike any other festival in the way that instead of just watching some bands, you were watching a triple j program complete with hosts, DJ’s, and loads of collaborations and covers. The afternoon began when Nina Las Vegas beckoned the crowd in with some fresh Mix Up bangers. Matt and Alex came on stage to tell some jokes and introduce the first band, Ball Park Music, just as the crowd began to settle in at the barrier, with the early arrivals wielding a double black in each hand.

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Ball Park Music hit the stage with their catalogue of festival hits to bring up the vibes in The Domain as it filled up with people making their way back from the hour long bar line; just in time to catch Briggs and Trials with a highly charged rendition of Bad Apples, as Vance Joy’s band was setting up behind them. Not a minute of the show went by without some live music; supporting acts came on stage to play a song or two in between the headliners. Gotye played his first live set in 46 years, and Daniel Johns left the crowd stunned with a chilling (7 minute long) piano cover of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit.

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Each set had it’s own special moments; the crowd went wild for the strumming of Riptide, and Adalita’s crowd-surf during her set with You Am I caught them all by surprise. The real memorable moments of the show were during the last two acts; The Presets took to the stage after Tkay Maidza jumped around for a solid 15 minutes. The start of their set was a bit disappointing; even with guests Hermitude, joining them on stage for Ghosts, it looked like a very boring launchpad party. The vibe was luckily turned around when Megan Washington hopped on stage to provide the vocals for This Boy’s In Love, bringing the energy needed to get the crowd going, and even waking up The Presets themselves. By the time they played My People, Julian Hamilton was front and centre singing ‘Let me hear you scream if you’re with me’ as the sea of 25,000 sang back at him.

Here’s that moment v professionally captured on video:

@thepresets at #beatthedrum // shot from the top of the lighting tower

A video posted by Cameron D'Antone (@camerondantone) on

Hilltop Hoods kicked off the last set of the night by exploding on to the stage with Chase That Feeling, running up and down and showing everyone just why they deserved to headline the night. The crowd was packed in, with hundreds getting seated on a mate’s shoulders, and everyone else throwing their hands into the air. The boys brought on their first guest, Drapht, for a verse in the radio favourite Cosby Sweater. Just as he finished, we heard more from Seth Sentry, Illy and Tkay Maidza in the craziest Aussie hip-hop performance we’ve seen. It gets better, while everyone is still amazed at what they’re seeing, the boys from Horrorshow and Thundamentals lend their lyrics, and are joined by Briggs, Remi, and the 20 people watching from side-stage as everyone rushes on for a sing and dance to the hottest 100 favourite. Hilltop Hoods followed it with The Nosebleed Section to wrap up the night, leaving the masses to begin drunkenly shuffling themselves out, when our MC’s re-appeared to bid everyone farewell. The last words of the night came from Alex Dyson, ‘Goodbye! Goodnight! See you next year!’, which makes me wonder if I was hearing things.. or if, maybe, Beat The Drum will be back?

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See more of my photos here.


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