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September 21, 2017

OH YES: A festival for Adelaide’s sake

Into the now-questionable music festival market wade local entrepreneurs 5/4 Entertainment with a new event designed specifically to appeal to the ever-unreliable Adelaide market.

  • Words: Johnny von Einem
  • Pictures: Julian Cebo

Over the last decade, Australia has seen the boom and sudden bust of many nationally touring music festivals (RIP Big Day Out, Soundwave, Parklife, Future Music, Stereosonic, et al).

While some major names still exist – like the national events Laneway and Groovin the Moo, and relatively static festivals like Splendour in the Grass, Falls Festival, and our own Womadelaide – in the wake of the fallen juggernauts, a trend toward smaller and more considered festivals has emerged.


OH YES is happening at the Wayville Showgrounds on Friday, September 29 from 2pm.

For the full lineup and further details, see the OH YES website.

For Adelaide’s gig-going community, this presents a problem. Most of these festivals are born in the Eastern states, are created for that market, and due to being smaller operations, they’re more risk-averse when considering moving into new markets.

And Adelaide, as we heard the last time CityMag spoke with 5/4 Entertainment’s Craig Lock, is a particularly risky market to enter.

That’s not to say there isn’t demand here, it’s just that if a festival is going to work, it has to be done with Adelaide in mind, and that has been the approach of 5/4 Entertainment and Fat Controller in creating new festival OH YES.

“We started getting hit up by people that were playing Listen Out Festival, saying ‘we want to do a show in Adelaide,’” Craig says.

“We organised to do a Duke Dumont show in a venue, then some other people started going ‘hey, we’re looking for shows as well.’ Well, we might as well put it all together and make an event out of it.

“We weren’t looking, like ‘we must start a festival!’ That’s not what we were doing … but I think this year, it just felt like everything was lining up to make more sense in a festival environment.”

“We weren’t looking, like ‘we must start a festival!’ That’s not what we were doing.”

Craig Lock

Four acts from the OH YES lineup were taken from Listen Out, but the rest were curated based on insights Craig and his team have through programming five venues throughout Adelaide.

“Because we’re based here, and we’re booking a lot of venues, and we’re doing a lot of music-related activity in Adelaide, I think we might be in a better position to run [a festival] than people from interstate who are thinking with a Melbourne/Sydney mindset,” Craig says.

“That’s why we booked some different artists on this bill, because we thought that it would make more sense for Adelaide, try to build something that’s for the people from Adelaide, rather than just tacking onto an existing event.”

Even with their local knowledge, running a festival is a large investment, and OH YES is by no means a guaranteed success.

“It’s hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s literally the budget for the event. It’s like $300,000 or something,” Craig says.

“You’ve got to pay for it upfront. You don’t get any of the money from the event until after the event, so you actually have to have money in a bank account, and you have to be willing to just go ‘I’m putting that into that and I don’t know if I’m ever going to see that money again.’”

The potential rewards for a well-run and well-attended event, though, are a bolstered bank account, allowing 5/4 to continue to invest in Adelaide’s music scene.

“Maybe we can start managing some other bands from Adelaide because [now] we don’t need to make money instantly from that [and] you don’t make money from managing bands for quite a while until they’re doing well,” Craig says.

“The flipside is, if this went terribly and we only sold 1,000 tickets, maybe our company would no longer exist, so it’s a very risky thing to do.”

A week out from the festival, Craig’s confident in the event he and his team have built, and with two of the three releases of tickets sold out, it looks like Adelaide is confident in his offering too.

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