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November 23, 2023

Cry Baby Fest locked in for Gaol blast

Cry Baby Fest will take over the old Adelaide Gaol on Saturday, and Jon Di Pinto says to "expect all the standard Cry Baby experiences" after the music event's four year break.

  • Words: Claudia Dichiera
  • Graphic: Jayde Vandborg

Jon Di Pinto is no stranger to the Adelaide nightlife scene. Owner of Cry Baby, and co-owner of Gilbert Street’s Shotgun Willie’s and Memphis Slims, Jon also grew his dancing empire to a namesake festival.

Cry Baby Fest first took place in 2019 as a party down Solomon Street. After a four-year hiatus, Jon is happy to welcome its return and expansion.


Cry Baby Fest
Saturday, November 25
Adelaide Gaol
18 Gaol Road, Adelaide 5000


“What we did [with] the first one, we did it in a laneway, it was a free event. We put the stage in the laneway… and it was great,” Jon says.

“This time we’ve sort of gone ‘how do we make this bigger and better and more fun and make it like a real festival vibe but just on that sort of scaled-down size?’”

The event will kick off at 11am with a mix of local bands including Colourblind and Coldwave and national headliners Dune Rats and Jack River.

Jon reiterates there will be “good music from the get go”.

“You know, options. If you want to listen to some of the DJ stuff, you go into the DJ stage, to the more rock and roll stuff throughout the main area, and then plenty of other stuff.”

Although the focus is on live music, the festival will also have a range of retailers including Pineapple Vintage, record seller Crackle & Pop, and of course, beloved food vendors like Anchovy Bandit, Staazi & Co and Cheekies Hot Chicken.

Cry Baby Fest’s growth was a natural progression from laneway to Gaol. Jon says the team was ready to take their namesake festival to the next level.

“It was such a big success for us that it just felt right to naturally grow bigger,” he says.

“When we first did it was when the Sofitel was being built, so we didn’t have many restrictions around having people staying in the hotel or living in the hotel right at our feet — so it made it a bit easier to do.

“It was just natural progression to move it off-site and feel like we sort of maxed out what we can do in that first one. So we thought, let’s go bigger.”

Jon on Solomon. This picture: Johnny von Einem.


By bigger, this Cry Baby Fest will be approximately triple the size, with Jon saying they “went from about 1000 people to now 3000”.

Although a festival is a completely different ball game, Jon says the ethos of Cry Baby, being a rock and roll-inspired venue, will live up to its name.

“Expect all the all the standard Cry Baby experiences that you have, but just on a big festival scale,” Jon says.

“It’s going to be loud, it’s going to be fun, everyone’s going to be enjoying themselves.

“All the stuff you’d expect when you walk into the bar, just sort of amplified in a bigger area.”


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Jon describes a typical Cry Baby crowd as a bag of “liquorice allsorts”. This crowd — as is also the case for his other venture Shotgun Willie’s — is happy to wait in line for upwards of 30 minutes just to secure a spot at a Di Pinto-stamped venue.

“If you walk into the bar on a Friday night, you’re going to get a group of 18-year-olds, and probably a group of 45, 50-year-olds all enjoying themselves over that sort of common interest,” Jon says.

“The younger kids, their parents would listen to this music so it’s a bit nostalgic for them, and then there’s people that grew up with the music, and then there’s just people who generally like it as well.

“Sometimes you just need a good singalong, a good song that everyone knows to dance to.”

An icon. This picture: Johnny von Einem.


Asked how he’s able to attract a regular enthused crowd every weekend at both Cry Baby and Shotgun Willie’s, Jon answers: “Can I say luck? Everything I’ve ever done, it’s because I love it myself.”

“So, obviously Cry Baby, I love rock and roll music. The same with Shotgun Willie’s — we’ve got a soft spot for country music so let’s try and create a country music venue that looks like something that should be in America.

“I guess that’s the recipe: to create bars that you want to go to, and then they end up being bars and other people want to go.”

But Jon won’t stop at a namesake festival. He continues to use his recipe for success in future ventures like a 1000 Island takeover, and Sugar Rundle Street revamp.

As for Cry Baby Fest, he says this is just the beginning.

“It’s going to be something that we work towards doing once a year around this time and build it bigger and bigger as we go,” Jon says.

Cry Baby Fest is on this Saturday at the Adelaide Gaol located at 18 Gaol Road, Adelaide.

Visit the website to buy tickets, or connect with the business on Instagram for more.

This picture: supplied.

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