Skegss, Ruby Fields, Pist Idiots and Cupid and the Stupids Sold Out Northern to Bring in 2020 Byron Bay. Hindsight is 2020 and so is the future.
It’s no wonder thousands of people flock to Aussie’s most Eastern point to be the first to welcome in the new year, new decade and all those doomed resolutions. Byron is one of those magnetic places much like the Ibiza’s, Goa’s and Bali’s of the world there’s a dichotomy about it. On one side of the coin there’s a real drug fuelled party essence that attracts transient travellers. Bikinis tops and thongs in night clubs with the chance for all sins to be washed away in the ocean come morning. And on the other side there’s a genuine herbal, soul searching, chakra cleansing and meditative notion to the Bay. Byron is a Gemini if you will. As am I.
And so slipping into the Great Northern Hotel on NYE 2020, I had no idea where my night was headed. Only where it was to start. Cupid and the Stupid’s were first to grace the iconic stage off the main drag in Byron. A band I’d heard little about and in doing my pre-show research, could find little online about either. They definitely added a sheen of versatility to the garage-rock line up and I’d put bets on these guys being one to watch this new year. I mean you gotta love a rock n roll band with tap dancing lead singers. And their NYE outfits were definitely on point even though I feel like this is their regular get up.
Pist Idiots brought with them the sweat and steam that wasn’t likely to subside until the post count down street surge. With Falls Festival packed out only just across the green at the Parklands, it was hard to believe there was anyone left in town. Yet the venue’s capacity was nearly met by the time these boys from Bankstown got through the first couple and things were sticky. The infamous red heart on yellow tee was spattered throughout the crowd. The Pisties put on a show with no pretence, no pleasantries and all class.
“I can smell the testosterone from here” Ruby said from centre stage as a shoulder barging mosh circle formed early on in Ruby Field’s set. The call out was welcome and yet not condescending. Merely commenting on the largely male audience and their rowdiness. In classic form Ruby sported an oversized anti-silhouette box shirt and a pair of shorts, shaggy dark bangs and a beer within reach at all times.
She followed this cheekiness up with, “I recognise a few of you in the front here, sliding into the DM’s hey? Dangerous.” The jest was a great nod to the year that had been with all it’s #metoo movement discussion highlighting sexism in the music industry and cat-calling at female artists on stage. At least it felt that way, Ruby keeping things ever cool-girl and still one of the boys. Nearly a year since their seductively emotive single ‘Dinosaurs’ scored number 9 in the 2019 Hottest 100, they closed the set with a raucously powerful rendition that would surely be caught on everyone’s lips long into the new year bender.
That electricity that tickles with the anticipation of something new and exciting, something big and changeable was in the air. Whether that was aimed at Skegss themselves or the approaching final countdown, it didn’t matter. Back in their hometown and following a tour of the US, Toby, Jonny and Ben were smooth and liquored lipped upon picking up their strings and sticks. The crowd sang every word of the surf rockers show. Older tracks like “Spring Has Sprung” and “L.S.D”, really sending things into the final countdown hour and yet no one was looking at the time. And I’m reminded how few phones were actually raised the whole gig. Maybe there is still hope, something we definitely all felt a little closer to as the crazed mosh closed off its staunch barriers and allowed for a little more elbow room as the New Year was sung on into at midnight, led by Skeggs, and some frothy beers.
A communal sigh was heard as everyone escaped into the streets to catch the ocean breeze and swarm the beach to find a serious kick on.
Words by Cassia Briscoe