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Live Review: Homegrown talent dominated at This That 2018

12 November 2018 | 7:12 pm | Jackson Langford

This That entered 2018 on a weird trajectory, to say the least. After a 2017 that was drenched in torrential rain, their lineup announcement for 2018 was absolutely embroiled in controversy. The inclusion of a band with multiple abuse and discrimination allegations against them seemed not worth the inevitable drama it caused, and their removal left people mad – some were mad they were gone, and others were mad they were there in the first place. To top it all off, Goldlink – one of the lineup’s main attractions – pulled out at the 11th hour.

Yet and still, This That 2018 managed to deliver. Going from one extreme to the other, Newcastle treated TT punters to an absolute scorching 37 degree day. But no one seemed to really care. In fact, in a refreshing move from your average festival punter, the venue was filling out nice and early. Samsaruh electrified her early afternoon audience, with her powerful vocals and soaring riffs wafting over the sweaty crowd. Meanwhile, over on the ‘That’ stage, Godlands’ brought late night bangers to bright daylight and the result was no less eruptive, setting the bar high for the rest of the day.

And somehow, that bar never faulted. Boo Seeka, who call Newcastle their home, had as riotous of a homecoming as ever. Any Newcastle show Boo Seeka play is an instant and explosive party, but when it’s a hometown festival it was a completely different ballgame. The audience screamed back every word in perfect unison and it was ultimately a really beautiful celebration of the Newcastle music scene.

The celebration followed no matter where you found yourself. Between the aisles and aisles of local food trucks to a compact version of Newy’s very own Hunt & Gather Markets, supporting local talent flowed through the very veins of the festival. If you wandered off to the ‘Other’ stage, you’d find yourself knee deep in sweat and heavy beats, laid down by the likes of queen Ebony Boadu and our very own Purple Sneakers DJs just to name a few.

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That theme of celebrating a homegrown music scene was carried throughout the rest of the day, with huge Aussie acts playing for the majority of the night. The Rubens, SAFIA, The Kite String Tangle and more played a slew of old favourites and soon to be classics, but by far the most endearing set of the day belonged to everyone’s favourite underdog, Amy Shark.

There was a moment during her enamouring sunset performance where she spoke about an ‘Amy Shark cult’ and staring out over the huge crowd she played to, there’s simply no other way to describe it than that. Her melodies are effective and her lyrics are all too real, so maybe that’s why the country and the world have fallen in love with her. It could be the story of the underdog that we all innately gravitate towards. But, in all honesty, it could be her life’s message of rising through the bullshit.

And that’s what This That 2018 was all about. With a few self-inflicted wounds and a whole lot of external factors, the festival this year stood resilient, strong and hopefully growing from their mistakes. Whatever happens from here on out, they can at least say that 2018 went off without a hitch.

Photo by Dan Lynch for Purple Sneakers