I I was 15 when I plucked up the courage to ask my mother if I could go to my first festival. It was Big Day Out 2009. The Prodigy were playing and so was Lupe Fiasco and the Arctic Monkeys – I had to be there. But as my mom skimmed through the flyer while considering whether I could go, she noticed one name she had to be there for too, Neil Young.
My mother has fond memories of her missed chance to see Guns N’ Roses when they came to Australia in 1993 because she was eight months pregnant with me, so I have the 15 year shame I feel for mine felt sucked up Mom took me to a music festival and didn’t protest. Coming from a rural area, the festival was a seven hour drive and I had to get there somehow.
On a smelly, hot January day, my best friend and I, my mother and her best friend and my aunt got in the car and drove to Melbourne. By the time we got to the festival, we parted ways – while I was experiencing my musical awakening watching the Prodigy play in the Boiler Room tent, my mum was on the main stage watching Neil Young. – Jordyn Beazley
In 2001 I spent a week of school holidays with one of my best friends who had recently moved to near Tweed Heads from Sydney. There her older sister announced that she was going to the first Splendor in the Grass in a van with some friends – and did we want to come along? I was 16 and had only ever been to music festivals in Sydney during the day and loved the idea.
Can’t pretend to remember the music (apparently Michael Franti headlining, so maybe for the best). I remember falling in love with all my new friends and last night one of them threw up in the tent.
I’m not sure if my parents knew I was there; Since I didn’t have a cell phone, it wasn’t unusual to be without contact with me for days on vacation. It wasn’t the 1970s, I wasn’t a latchkey child, and I don’t think that era was particularly revealing. But in hindsight, that time feels very free. Older generations like to complain that young people today are too pampered, that they don’t have as much fun or protest or rebel as the older generations. Nevertheless, we consistently allow the police and other authorities to restrict their freedoms. – Josephine Tovey
I was 17 when I went to a concert for the first time. It was B2ST, a K-Pop band that I had absolutely no interest in – but I wasn’t there for the music. I was there to look after my cousin.
My cousin who is a full year older than me.
My aunt was and still is a tiger mom. My cousin was a high achiever; She had the best grades and could play two instruments appropriately. As a reward for being the best daughter, my aunt had paid for both my cousin and me to be part of that concert’s mosh pit and meet the band members afterwards. The music wasn’t bad but I stood at the back while my cousin slipped into the crowd of mostly teenage girls. We met the band afterwards and while I have to admit that they all looked very good, I certainly didn’t appreciate them as much as my cousin did. She was delighted. – Bertin Hünh
When I was 16 I was totally obsessed with British indie rock band The Kooks. My boyfriend was a die-hard Arctic Monkeys fan and we would regularly argue about which band was better.
When the Kooks announced they were touring Sydney for the first time in three years, I was dying to go, but my Arctic Monkeys friend didn’t want to come. It turned out that the only person who wanted to come to the concert with me was my father, Bill.
Bill is the kind of dad that would make you go to parties painfully early. I’m talking 45 minutes early. Not once was I late in fashion. So Dad printed out directions from Google Maps and we got there agonizingly early to one of my first concerts.
As we sat down, we saw another girl from school there with her father. But he was even more committed – he wore a Kooks shirt.
Looking back, it might as well have been a Bieber concert, but I was convinced of it a lot of cooler and way fancier (even with my dad accompanying me). – Eden Gillespie
When I was 16, I went to Macquarie University’s Equinox Festival with some friends – Tool were headlining.
I remember standing behind my friend in the queue to enter, watching as security searched everyone’s bags and realizing they were about to discover the homemade bong she forgot she was wearing . Thankfully, my friend’s laugh at this unexpected turn of events was so contagious that security just threw it away and waved us through. But before long we’d talked ourselves into serious cravings for Coke slushies.
Ignoring the no-pass-outs rule, we left the festival to buy some at the cinema across the street. When we were denied entry on our return, we attempted to climb over the fence again. Halfway down I heard footsteps and silenced my friends worried we would get caught – only to see it wasn’t a security guard patrolling the fence but an emu. We accidentally climbed into the university’s fauna enclosure.
I guess if we had had a parental chaperone we wouldn’t have had to hear Tool’s Set outside the gates, but then I wouldn’t have that ridiculous story either. – Shelley Hepworth
When I was 18, I moved around the world to study in New York City. It was my freshman year out of high school and the first time I was away from home alone after growing up in a sheltered bubble in Sydney. Understandably, my rather doting Lebanese parents were concerned.
We installed the infamous Life 360 so my parents could track my whereabouts: a precaution in case I might be kidnapped in the middle of the night. It was a safety net that also made me feel more comfortable.
But things got a little more tedious when the app’s super-freaky special security features came into play. For example, notifications when a person leaves the boundaries of a specified location, e.g. B. a dormitory or a school. Or notifications when someone is speeding in the car. Or even notifications when someone’s battery drops below a certain percentage.
(Yes, I got calls 24/7 in Australia from my mum telling me to charge my phone.)
One evening a group of friends and I decided to take a short walk to grab a dollar pizza. As soon as we left the dorm, my mother was notified.
She called anxiously and asked why on earth I was leaving the dorm at such an hour. I explained: We wanted pizza. She asked: Why do you need pizza now? I explained: We stayed up talking in the hallway and got hungry. She asked: why do you stay up when you have class tomorrow?
And so it went back and forth until I sent my mom a photo of us all safe and sound in the dingy pizzeria to prove my story was true. – Rafqa Touma
At 17 I attended my first camping festival, Meredith, with a best mate. We had just graduated from high school and I was obsessed with Mac DeMarco and Brian Jonestown Massacre, both headlining the lineup. We took the bus because neither of us could drive and arrived at the campsite with bright eyes and bushy tails. I brought my disposable camera and documented the experience – a photo of me, my hair in a ponytail, with my hat turned inside out and a Bill Murray t-shirt, face painted, peace sign to the camera.
I took another from an odd European who was staying at our campsite – head passed out on his book, idiot’s bag beside him. And me and my best mate, front row at the Nile Rodgers, high as kites – out of joint, yes, but also the vibe of being young and rocking out for the first time with thousands of strangers in the middle of the bush at Let’s Dance Time. I captioned the photo “Party hArd”. I’ve been back to Meredith almost every year since then, but the first one is still my most treasured festival memory. I’ve never quite managed to recreate the feeling. – Caitlin Cassidy
Were you looked after by your parents? Free running allowed? Or were you the escort? Tell us about your experience in the comments