Homebake was an end of year tradition. You would gather in The Domain to support a whole bunch of local Aussie acts. But the vibe of the crowd was always chilled and never escalated into the flag-wearing aggro that permeated the Big Day Out. Everyone was respectful and just there to have a good day experiencing homegrown Aussie acts.
The festival emerged in the mid ‘90s, as the Aussie “alternative” scene was expanding (helped along by the regional expansion of triple j, which meant even more people could access new Aussie music). Name an act from around then and chances are they graced the stage there - Regurgitator, Powderfinger, Spiderbait, Grinspoon, The Living End, Frenzal Rhomb, Magic Dirt, The Whitlams. Sometimes you’d find a fair whack of them all on the same year’s bill. Looks pretty impressive, even now, doesn’t it?
You’d find acts playing a side stage, only to return in a few years gracing the main stage (Eskimo Joe, Something For Kate and one of the few NZ acts we’d welcome with open arms every year - Shihad). You’d have acts at the top of the musical zeitgeist (Wolfmother, Jet). You’d have not only the best in contemporary acts, but those who forged the way for them (Hoodoo Gurus, Divinyls, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds). You had not only hip hop, but Australian hip hop on the predominantly rock fuelled main stage when such things were unthinkable (1200 Techniques, Hilltop Hoods).
Along the way it would occasionally be christened Mudbake as usually about every second or third year as the summer rain would come teeming down. And you know what? No one really cared. People would be happily dancing or moshing in the rain (I have distinct memories of Sarah McLeod being blown away during one Superjesus set by seeing all the steam rising from the crowd at the time) or maybe indulge in a bit of impromptu slip ‘n slide action. That and usually the Big Top would be overflowing at such times as people seeked shelter, but along the way could dance their hearts out to the likes of sonicanimation or The Presets or Cut Copy. Local acts would make an effort too. Sure, most would be doing the run of the festival circuit alongside playing Homebake, but there would be something special about playing on an all Australasian line-up (anyone else remember Daniel Johns’ mirrorball suit donned especially for Homebake?)
Its cancellation came at a time when the festival bubble was bursting (it had a year off previously too as it took a break in 2010). Harvest and Pyramid Rock had also been cancelled around the same time. The Big Day Out, which occurred in early 2014 in what would have been only a couple of months later from the intended Homebake, turned out to be its last. Then 2015 saw fellow festival staples Stereosonic and Future Music Festival hold their final events too. That and there was a change in format and venues (from a one day event in The Domain, it was going to be across three days at the Opera House forecourt), which ironically it was forced to do when another festival booked was scheduled in The Domain not long before Homebake and it too was cancelled (the aforementioned Harvest).
So while at the time there was a confluence of circumstances which led to Homebake being no more, now would be the perfect time to see it return. If international acts can’t (or won’t) tour, there will be a queue for days of acts who would be bursting at the seams to play in front of a crowd. You could fill it with acts that have played it in the past, or there are probably a multitude of acts who are festival headliners in their own right now who never had the opportunity to play it previously.
It could be a one and done - it never got to say a proper farewell (or officially celebrate its 18th birthday - imagine how wrought you would have been if you’d not had your 18th, eh?). Sure plenty of festivals since then have had all Australian line-ups and not really tooted their own horn about it (yes, we remember they had Blondie one year as a headliner in a special “international” edition), but this was quintessentially Australian and with a wave of nostalgia currently washing over folks as we’re stuck inside social distancing and self-isolating, now would be the perfect time to come out of the oven again.