What It Felt Like to Be at an Australian Music Festival Post-Pandemic

Last weekend, the biggest musical festival in Australia since COVID played out. In Darwin, over 14,000 attended BASSINTHEGRASS. There was singing, there were Cruisers, there was a magical beach sunset… it was everything we love about Australia, that we’ve missed so much over the last year and a bit.

I have to say, I had butterflies on the days leading up to BASS. I didn’t know how I’d feel being around such a huge crowd of people, especially in a festival setting where, let’s be honest, everyone gets pretty close.

To think that we’ve spent most of the last year indoors and only with a handful of people, it’s not surprising that I felt nervy. Although I wouldn’t consider myself to be a socially anxious person, the thought of being swallowed up by a big crowd felt daunting to me for perhaps the first time in my life. Then there’s also the fear of catching something, a fear which has never plagued me as much as it does now. 

I think that a lot of us – myself included – might often forget that the isolation brought on by COVID impacted us all. We went through a really traumatic thing together, where we were not only worried for our physical health, but we were also grappling with the emotional ramifications of total isolation and the unknown.

So, if you too feel nervous about being in a big crowd, it’s okay. If you feel on the verge of tears more often but you don’t know why, that’s okay too. Maybe you’re having unexpected meltdowns, which is also totally normal. It’s good to remember that we went through something, and we have to heal.

Once I realised that the way I was feeling was totally normal, I relaxed into the idea of going to a festival, knowing that I could listen to my instincts and take myself out of the crowd at any point if need be.

Despite those initial nerves, I actually found that BASSINTHEGRASS was healing for me. Or more specifically, I found crying and shout-singing to Missy Higgins’s live set to be healing. She played some new songs off her latest album When The Machine Starts, as well as some of her old classics from the Sound of White, including ‘Scar’ and ‘The Special Two’ (I wept). People of all ages were in the crowd, from kids on their parent’s shoulders to mums and dads and grandparents, singing along to her lyrics which are guaranteed to have a different meaning for everyone. 

Bodies were sweaty and happy, as we danced and sang in unison, while festival officials hosed us down with pressure hoses in an attempt to keep us cool in the 33-degree heat. 

There’s something incredible about a sea of people singing the same words at the same time. I’d forgotten how beautiful it was to share something emotional with so many strangers and be able to hear and feel their response. 

BASSINTHEGRASS celebrated Australian culture and music in a way that I’ve never experienced at a music festival before. With huge Australian headliners such as The Jungle Giants, Lime Cordiale, The Rubens, Missy Higgins and GFLIP, the soundtrack of Australian music was perfect for the beachside setting, as was the salt ‘n’ pepper crocodile bites, Red Bears and generously salted potato spirals. 

Given that we’re not completely past COVID and that safety restrictions were still in place, the festival was spread out over a huge amount of land, meaning there were always places to go sit for a bit of alone time if you were feeling overwhelmed or overheated. It was a really nice way to do a festival; watch your faves, have a boogie and then go sit on the beach, watch the sunset and munch on some yummy food while your body resets. 

The festival was such a success, that tickets for BASSINTHEGRASS 2022 have already been released and they’re available at the incredible early bird price of $75 if you get in quick. This year was entirely sold out, with seemingly the whole of Darwin in attendance, as well as people from all over Australia.

We’re just going to leave the booking link here.

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