After the 5am wake up, we arrive through the gates and into the car park just before 9am, hoping, finally, to secure a spot on the main oval this year. No wristbands received just yet, unlike previous years which feels odd, and then in true UNIFY fashion, it rains and we’re lucky to have a gazebo to prop up and invite some surrounding punters to take shelter. The wait begins.
Finally, at 12pm the gates are open and the waddling scramble begins as punters throw swags over their shoulders, stack boxes of drinks and food up to their necks as they all rush to the perfect campgrounds.
But a lot of people are let down to find that despite arriving 3-4 hours earlier, the first oval is full and full mostly of those Kartents. Ah, Kartents, the running joke of UNIFY 2018. And this begins my short and sweet, highs and lows of UNIFY 2018.
I thought I’d do the whole ‘bad news first, good news second’ scenario and begin with the things that just didn’t quite work out.
- The weather. Unfortunately UNIFY hasn’t had the best luck with good-old mother nature in the past and this year was a bit of a shitter. Rain, so much rain, and wind combined made it quite a wet time over Friday and Saturday. For those of us, like myself, who packed for the originally forecasted 30ish degrees, we were donning ponchos and jeans most of the time. But, the sun did make its appearance and when it did, boy it was magical. But no one really felt the weather quite like those suckers in the KarTents.
- Point 2, and possibly the point on every single punter’s lips, the wristband process.
Unlike previous years, where wristbands were received in the car, this year UNIFY introduced GlowNet wristbands, a loadable wristband you can pay with. Sounds great in theory right? And it was (see below) but the organisation of obtaining these wristbands was another thing entirely.
Gates opened at 12, people enter and find a spot and begin to layout their area, then assemble tents, marquees/gazebos, couches, tables etc, get the esky set up, maybe change, have a bite to eat or a sit-down. Perfect now let’s go see some bands. Oh wait, we don’t have our wristbands yet, let’s go get them…
and two bands later may I add, we have our wristbands. Some people were lucky, the lines were short right after gates opened of course, but after everyone had put their stuff down and joined the lines it was an awful mess. Bands weren’t scanning, things were glitching and we waited a whole hour for a 2-minute process, missing out on two early bands.
I guess you live and you learn, hopefully, next year the process for this is a lot smoother.
- Now a lot of people complained about the toilets, and personally, my experience with them was actually quite alright BUT from what I’ve heard there were lots to say about how dirty and disgraceful they were, as well as the amount available, and process of ’emptying’ them, so this one’s on the line. Sometimes you get lucky.
I don’t really have much else to say about any Lows of UNIFY, apart from the odd douchebag whose fucked off drunk yelling profanities at passersby’s, that happens, what can you do. UNIFY as a whole was much more positive than previous years, which leads onto…
- Despite the initial reactions and struggles, those wonderful little GlowNet wristbands. Being able to load up money, and just tap as you go was seamless (most of the time) and super convenient. And for those of us lucky enough to be able to use things like ApplePay/SamsungPay/AndroidPay etc, we never needed to carry a card or cash ANYWHERE. Brilliant! But also dangerous to those (like myself) who had just gotten paid on Friday night…oops.
- TOASTA WAS BACK, ah the glorious team at Toasta helping us warm our insides in the freezing rains.
- Vegan options galore! I was honestly astounded by how many vegan options UNIFY had brought with them, basically, EVERY truck was at least Vegetarian-friendly and only a small handful didn’t have vegan options. The stands outs being:
- Toasta’s Vegan Jane toastie (I had two…)
- Vegan Dumplings
- Pizza Fries (even though the Vegan option as just chips and pizza sauce)
- The Coffee…oh my lord the coffee…
- The Men’s Sheds Hashbrown deal. 3 for $5. Amazing.
- And, according to all my mates, everyone was raving on about those Pulled Pork burgers.
- The Bloody DJ in the arena dropping tune after tune between each act. Honestly, it felt like being at a less grotty, less suffocating night at BANG. Nice one.
- People I feel like this year people were nicer. And this is purely based on my own experience but this year I feel that for the majority, people looked after each other. I made new friends and had some great conversations. Yeah, people were still fucked up on god knows what, but the overall atmosphere was much calmer.
- And, most importantly, the bands. This years line-up was quality, a nice mixed bag of genres and styles, some highlights include:
- Behind Crimson Eyes
- Tonight Alive
- Parkway Drive
- Dear Seattle
- Young Lions
- Hands Like Houses
So cheers to another successful weekend at UNIFY Gathering. Each year seems to get better and better and with next year being year 5, my hopes are high.