They say life begins at 40. Well if that’s the case, I can’t wait to see what the next 40 years will hold for the nation’s youth radio broadcaster, Triple J!
Multiple generations of Australians have had the good fortune to grow up with Triple J from its birth as Double J in 1974. This was clearly evidenced by the crowd that came to enjoy the birthday party Beat The Drum: Celebrating 40 years of Triple J.
The crowd’s demographic spanned from 18 to 60 year olds, all happily singing along to the same tunes together.
Ultimately, long after the bands exhausted their riders, the roadies packed up shop and the long drink queues disappeared, this sense of unity is what will stick with most of the revellers, including this one.
Mothers and sons, dads and daughters, young and old, all arm in arm swaying along to tributes to Australian legends including Crowded House, Divinyls and Australian Crawl.
Even when the searing sun set and the Presets and Hilltop Hoods whipped the crowd into a frenzy, I looked around to still find cross generational punters tearing up the “dance floor” together!
One punter excitedly exclaimed, “The Preachers playing the Divinyls made the crowd stand still in silence – we all became one!”
This punter was right: the special guests who came along to pay tribute to other artists were indeed a musical highlight. Along with the Preachers, another of my personal favourites was Megan Washington’s exquisite collaboration with the Presets.
This birthday shindig was like the ultimate roller coaster ride – and it was wild!
Sure, some punters questioned the sound quality and drink queues, but you can’t deny the brilliance of a lineup capable of evoking responses like that from an audience.
The haunting velvet vocals of Sarah Blasko made the crowd fall silent in awe only to have them squealing with glee moments later as the energetic and crowd surfing Adalita proved why she is Australian music royalty.
Add to this concoction the infectious Cat Empire, the stompin’ young Adelaide emcee Tkay Maidza, the energy of Ball Park Music and Hermitude and the sweet melodies provided by Vance Joy, Owl Eyes and Paul Dempsey and you’ve a recipe to reckon with.
Amongst the many special moments was the fitting homage paid by Daniel Johns to long time idols, Nirvana. Turning the classic “Smells Like Teen Spirit” into a ballad was a bold but beautiful move, particularly when armed only with a piano and a harp!
The most tender moment came when You am I’s Tim Rogers embraced Courtney Barnett and gently kissed her forehead after performing a song together. It almost seemed to be a passing of the baton to the next generation of Australian talent.
Double J/Triple J was of course the product of the Whitlam Labor Government so it was apt that Peter Garrett, former Labor MP and lead singer of Midnight Oil (which got its break with Double J), came along as the surprise guest to emphasise the importance of Australian radio for Australian musicians.
…. though, where were The Whitlams in all of this I wonder? That would’ve been a nice touch.
Perhaps more absent still was a member of the present government at the celebration – unless I missed it while occupying my place in one of the many queues of the day. I hope they did come to witness the event, because perhaps then they might better understand the impact and importance of Australian radio for Australian artists– for Australian generations past, present and future.
I can’t remember the last time I went to a festival where teens happily sang alongside 60 year olds: Triple J has truly crossed and unified generational boundaries.
The friendly and good-natured crowd came to the birthday celebration, as they would for any family member, complete with the obligatory daggy dancing uncle, or aunt as the case may be. And that is exactly what Triple J is for most Australians now. Family!
Happy birthday Triple J.