We won’t lie — we’re writing this review in a hungover haze. As we scrolled through our camera rolls for photos that encapsulate the night, the neon blue, green and pink lights quickly became too bright for our aching heads. Our respective early Sunday morning commitments could not have been more painful. We’re unsure if we can keep our $16 vegan nachos from Manning Cantina down for much longer.
But if great music, even better company, and a stream of hilarious memories aren’t the signs of a successful music festival, we don’t know what are.
Debuting last year, Someday Soon is the University of Sydney Union’s (USU) annual music festival. Hosted at Manning House, the set list is divided into three stages across two floors. At first, we weren’t fans of this layout: we were separated as soon as we entered through the rainbow-lit tunnel on the second level, and climbing the stairs between acts became tiresome as the night wore on. But as we watched the sunset from our different vantage points, we realised that Manning had successfully been transformed into a maze of kaleidoscopic lights and sound to be explored.
Given that the stages were relatively empty when we arrived (and would not fill out with crowds until five hours into the festival), we took it upon ourselves to find other sources of entertainment. On the upper balcony, Simone found herself vox-popped by Kate and Lameah from the PULP team. Feeling inspired, Tiger interviewed a number of students on their experiences of the festival. Four strong Irish accents, from four non-student aged “friends of one of the artists”, were quick to note that the wagyu burger was a 10/10, before clarifying it was closer to a 9. Like a number of other students we approached for comment, however, we were quickly priced out of the $16+ meals, preferring to spend our money on the also overpriced drinks. The cheapest beer was a $10 Mountain Goat lager, reasonable for a regular festival but steep for a student event.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Someday Soon is the big-name artists they have been able to attract, with Hermitude, Holy Holy, Lastlings, Methyl Ethel, Middle Kids and Ruby Fields headlining among others last year. In 2023, the setlist again featured many names you’d expect to see at a big Australian festival, although perhaps slightly less stacked out than last year.
With a couple of expensive beers absorbing in our stomachs, we noticed that the performances that initially struggled with crowd engagement were made up for later in the evening. We crammed together to fill the last empty gaps at the back of Royel Otis’ stage, one of the artists we were both most excited to see live. We were not disappointed; we don’t think that Manning Bar has seen that level of excitement and energy since Paul Kelly’s 1979 gig at the venue.
1300’s 8pm set was a welcome change of style and rhythm, and one of the most exciting of the night, bringing out some of our best dance moves to their hit songs Steve Jobs and Cardio! The five-piece hip-hop group from Sydney’s West had some of the most electric engagement of the evening. Talking to the audience between songs, their personable natures and rapping — almost from within the crowd rather than on the stage — set the scene for a number of epic call-and-responses.
We stuck around for Sycco before moving upstairs for Northeast Party House at 10pm, whose entire set list has now been added to Simone’s Spotify playlist. As we crested the stairs, we encountered the biggest surprise of the evening — the massage bench situated under the bright lights of the top-floor foyer. Here, one student at a time could pay for a massage in full view of everyone moving between stages. A blessing, we’re sure, for anyone whose jaw or shoulders may have felt particularly tight — but we were nevertheless surprised by this seemingly random addition.
There was a large number of police, so many in fact it felt like we were at a peaceful climate protest! Despite this, there appeared to be slightly less of a presence than last year, and they had dispensed with the sniffer dogs that famously had so much fun harassing students in 2022. They made their intimidating presence felt not just at the entrance but inside, along the balconies and at the back of the dancefloors too. Despite this, we heard from a number of students that pre-ing in Victoria Park was a stress-free and uninhibited experience — with a quick pee in the Law Library, they lined up to be trapped for nine hours (remember, no passouts!). Venue security also patrolled inside but appeared somewhat looser. Speaking to Honi at the start of the night, they informed us that vaping was allowed in an effort to reduce cigarette waste, the latter being banned everywhere on the premises. However, we walked past scores of students smoking at outside stages and on the grassy lawns, who were being left alone by security and police alike.
After a quick break in the flooded Level 2 bathrooms, we began the wait for the final stages — which, unlike last year, began swiftly at 11pm. Peach PRC glittered on the Manning Lawns, refracting the crowd’s cheers to favourites like God Is A Freak and Kinda Famous off the pearly iridescence of her fairy wings. Great set production and stage design was a running theme of the evening, and we were both impressed by how seriously this seemed to have been taken by both artists and organisers.
We finished the night off in the mosh graced by headliner What So Not, whose only fault was how keen they seemed to be to find a sharehouse afterparty, asking the crowd multiple times where kickons was going to be. Listening to a renowned electronic DJ on the mottled concrete of Manning’s sunken courtyard was a surreal experience. Under the impression that their set finished at 11:30pm, we were all hyped to discover that they still had half an hour to go. Despite our best efforts to steer clear of the death circles that were suddenly opening up in the middle of the mosh, Simone was knocked to the ground before a friendly, if very excited, crowd picked her up.
By all accounts, Someday Soon was a successful and fun night for everyone involved. Honi is yet to hear of any incidents involving the police, ambulances or anything else of the kind.