REVIEW: The Inaugural This That Hits Newcastle Foreshore

Newcastle’s This That Festival had its inaugural event on Saturday, bringing a mass of quality artists to the beautiful Foreshore. There were many highs and a few lows. We review it all here:


Festivals are pretty much synonymous with large, green, open parklands. But few can boast having a beach as one of its borders. Nestled in near Nobby’s beach, the festival adopted an appropriately summery vibe to match its surroundings. It was a pity that instead of open skies and a scorching sun, miserable grey clouds crowded the sky ominously the whole day, threatening a downpour. Fortunately, the rain was limited to an occasional trickle to help the mosh cool off. Plus, for an inaugural festival, it ran surprisingly smoothly. Transport to festivals can cause a headache at the best of times, but luckily the organisers had it covered from the beginning. For those poor souls who had to trek from Sydney, the train conveniently stopped at Hamilton before shuttle buses pick us up from the station and took us straight to the festival, likewise on the way home. Bliss.


The first act that really started to draw a sizeable crowd was Triple J Unearthed’s success story Asta. Exuding charisma, she frolicked around the stage often on all fours, purring her powerhouse vocals to the packed crowd. By the end of the set, she’d even acquired a skipping rope, as if her dancing before wasn’t enough of a workout. Her biggest single to date, Dynamite, certainly lived up to its name. Dealing with some sound issues (more on that later), the singer could barely be heard over the muffled backing accompaniment for the first half of the song. Then in an explosion of sound, the speakers kicked in and the mosh said goodbye to its hearing for the next few seconds. It unintentionally roused the crowd, and we were rewarded with some more eclectic dance moves from Asta.

The name ‘ThisThat’

ThisThat is an undeniably catchy name for a festival. Accordingly, the two main stages were called ‘This stage’ and ‘That stage’, as well as ‘The Other’ stage – how meta, I know. But for those who may have indulged in a few beers, I imagined conversations going something like this:

“Okay so where are Sticky Fingers playing?”

“This stage”

“Awesotme, so we can just stay here”

“No we need to go to that stage over there”

“What? I thought it was this stage?”

“No, its that stage over there, This stage”

“So it’s called This stage?”

“Yeah, that stage over there is This stage and this stage here is That stage”

*Gives up*

The sound quality

Festivals seem to be having a little trouble with sound volume and quality this year. Patrons of Listen Out complained that they could barely hear a lot of the artists, with many people even walking out on Childish Gambino because of it. Although it wasn’t quite that bad, the sound wasn’t nearly loud enough for most of the day, especially on This stage, which was the larger, outdoor one. You could easily hold a conversation 10 or 15 rows back. It also extracted some of the energy from the crowd, with Sticky Fingers especially becoming slightly frustrated at the crowd for the lack of energy. It’s fairly difficult to dance with abandon and belt out the lyrics when you can barely make out the words. Once the crowd started chanting to a song, the band was almost muffled out. Although it may have just been an error, it’s likely that similarly to Listen Out, the concert may have been affected by noise restrictions.


Aussie kings of electronica had the distinguished job of closing out the festival on This stage. Importing their intense light show from their Sydney sideshow, they managed to slap some energy into a rapidly tiring, sobering crowd. They kicked off with a brief mix of their album, teasing the audience before transitioning into an old favourite Sundream. With their new album set to drop in the near future, they gave the crowd a taste of the material with their latest single Like An Animal which channels the same balanced electronic beats they’ve become to renowned for. RUFUS are masters of restraint with every song patiently working towards a shimmering climax, but not before teasing the crowd a little.

Markets & Food

Whoever had the responsibility for the aesthetic and design of the festival should be getting a raise right about now. This That was advertised as more than a conventional festival from the beginning – and it certainly delivered, with a host of markets and food trucks lining the edges of the festival. Walking from This stage to That stage lured you down an alleyway of boutique markets filled with clothes, bags, candles, scarves and everything in between. The only problem they likely would have encountered is that people at festivals are unlikely to want to buy a mountain of stuff that they have to cart around for the rest of the day. The markets were accompanied by “The Other” stage, a tiny stage as large as a stall that added some ambiance to the area. Fairy lights lit up most of the festival come night, and lined the wall of food trucks selling a delectable array of food. I indulged in a mean Bratwurst sausage – but the trucks catered to everyone from gluten free folks to vegans. Once you had your food, there was plenty of room to sit back and relax, with wooden tables giving a killer view of This stage.

Sticky Fingers

The unanimous highlight of the festival, from the many people I talked to, seemed to be Sticky Fingers. Somewhere between breaking into the scene with Caress Your Soul, and the release of their second album, the Sydney-siders managed to haul together one of the most dedicated, passionate fan bases out there for a band their size. Again, This stage was packed from the outset, and despite their sound troubles the band pulled through. Dreamland was a clear standout, rousing the crowd into a unified chanting, while Australia Street with its nostalgia soaked lyrics sent everyone into frenzy. They continued their boycott of Caress Your Soul, signalling a permanent transition from their early work, yet also omitted their most recent song Ghost Town. Instead, they packed the set full of favourites, old and new. Hopefully next time we see them, they’ll be armed with their new album that they’re recording in December.

Despite some minor sound problems, This That managed a sold-out crowd, massive expectations and some unfortunate weather to deliver a unique and boutique vibe that should send fans scrambling for tickets once again next year.