Winter may be here, but Stonefest is just waking up from a 10-year hiatus to hit the University of Canberra campus this Spring.
Stonefest was a rite of passage for students and Canberra locals for more than 40 years. Now, the legendary festival returns to UC Refectory and UC Hub on October 19 with a line-up of some of the hottest local and international acts.
Featuring British India, Ceres, Cry Club, Example (UK), Fritz, Genesis Owusu, Good Doogs, Japanese Wallpaper, Mallrat, Moaning Lisa, Ninajirachi, Pagan, Raave Tapes, Sampa The Great, Skegss, Sputnik Sweetheart, Teen Jesus And The Jean Teasers, and Thelma Plum, playing over two stages, the eclectic line-up ticks all the boxes.
Stonefest was born in 1971 to celebrate the the laying of the foundation stone by Prime Minster John Gorton to mark the opening of the Canberra College of Advanced Education in 1968, which later became the University of Canberra in 1990.
From its inception in the ’70s as a week-long event, to its hey day of the 1980s, ’90s and noughties, the annual Stonefest was a hallowed event in the Canberra gig guide as the largest and longest running festival in the Capital. In 2012 Stonefest returned to its pure student roots with a scaled back approach as Stone Week, but now the festival spirit has reawakened and it is ready to rock again.
At the top of the list are Australian acts Skegss and breakout hip hop star Mallrat. Skegss’ buzzed-out, relatable surf rock saw them claim #11 in the 2018 Hottest 100 with ‘Up In The Clouds’, whilst prodigal teen MC Mallrat is on an upward trajectory, with an entirely sold out national tour and a heady European tour on the cards for July.
With more then 60% of the acts featuring non-male members, Stonefest is helping to tip the scales and place female and non-binary artists at the front, along with acts from various backgrounds and influences to reflect the diversity of the UC campus.
“We’ve got this great mix of emerging and local artists as well as some artists who’ve had a lot of success but haven’t necessarily been through Canberra before,” said Kelsey Bagust, UC Live Music Manager. “There’s a really great range of genres and artists on the lineup; a little bit of something for everyone. It’s really exciting that over 60% of the bands have non-male representation as well.”
There are also nods to Stonefests past, with British India returning to the festival they played more than a decade ago and Euro pop megastar Example dropping in from the UK.
Canberra acts are well-represented with globetrotting rapper/performance artists Genesis Owusu and alt-rockers Moaning Lisa heading up a local contingent that also includes Sputnik Sweetheart and Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers.
‘Clumsy Love’ singer Thelma Plum, Zambia-born rapper Sampa The Great, instant party band RAAVE Tapes, past Unearthed High winner Japanese Wallpaper, and emo favourites Ceres prove that there’ll be something for everyone across Stonefest’s two stages.
Emerging acts Cry Club, Good Doogs, Ninajirachi, Pagan and FRITZ round out the lineup, offering new discoveries for the uninitiated.
The announcement comes hot on the heels of a live music resurgence at the University of Canberra, driven by the team at UC Live. Their two dedicated music venues (UC Refectory and UC Hub) have put forward a compelling live music program that’s seen the likes of Peking Duk, Angus & Julia Stone, Vera Blue, Alison Wonderland, Ball Park Music, San Cisco, Hands Like Houses and hundreds more on stage in the past 12 months.
Whether tickling a taste of nostalgia for those whose somewhat hazy hey-day memories are interwined with the festival of days gone by, or focusing firmly on the future of the best new bands, Stonefest 2019 promises to breathe new life into an event that once again has placed itself at the centre of Canberra’s entertainment calendar.