The small East Gippsland town of Wy Yung was transformed into a musical oasis on Friday night, with the inaugural ‘Live On The Hill’ concert being hailed as a resounding success.
A crowd of almost 3,000 eager punters piled into the Wy Yung Pub’s ‘backyard’ to find a night filled with good food, plenty of drinks and an exceptional coup of Australian music royalty, headlined by the iconic ‘John Butler Trio’.
Gates opened and the music began just before 5pm, with local act ‘Barry Jessup & The Vibe’ kicking proceedings off. Emerging local star Josh Cashman followed as the crowd grew on the hill, with revellers loving every minute of the chilled melodies and towering guitar solos.
Cashman was clearly appreciative of the opportunity to play on the same bill as one of his childhood idols, adding in a Facebook post after the gig “When I was 10, my dad gave me $20 and told me to ride my bike to Sanity, and buy an album called ‘Sunrise Over Sea’ by the John Butler Trio. That record inspired me to learn the guitar, and I was obsessed. Last night I got to open for the man himself and share the same stage, and it was a super special show I’ll remember forever!”.
The evening continued with a nostalgic set from singer songwriter Pete Murray, who made the trek from Byron Bay that morning just to make an appearance. His 4am start was met with a high level of appreciation for his effort. Murray was the perfect curtain raiser to Butler, with his catalogue of sing-a-long hits creating a beautifully relaxed atmosphere for what was to come.
Anticipation built as the sun set over the hill and finally the crowd got what they were waiting for… ‘The John Butler Trio’. The headline act treated the crowd to a milestone 90 minute set, the first as a newly expanded five-piece band.
Butler and his entourage mesmerized the crowd, mixing his classics such as ‘Zebra’ and crowd favourites ‘Better Than’ with 12-minute instrumental ‘Ocean’ which is truly an experience to see live. Punters were also treated to the first live cuts of the groups next album, which will become the band’s first release in almost 5 years when it hit’s shelves later this year.
The charm of the smaller sized festival allowed for some special moments as well. Before his set Butler managed to squeeze in a meet and greet with up and coming Gippsland musician Matthew Bentley. 18-year-old Bentley clearly cherished the chance to meet one of his musical idols, adding that “(Butler) has been one of the main influences and inspirations into my own music, Getting to ask questions to him about his songs and music really showed how genuine everything about him is”.
As the night drew to a close the general vibe was that overall ‘Live On The Hill’ was an impressive debut, with the festival obviously experiencing some teething pains that every new festival must endure. Crowds grew slightly frustrated at the lack of bars and toilets with both having excessive cues for a majority of the night, but upon reflection the average punter seemed in good spirits.
If the promoters can continue the booking form they showed this year and expand on some of the feedback left by patrons then ‘Live On The Hill’ could grow in to a mainstay of the Victorian summer music calendar for years to come.