Harvest Rock was never supposed to be a typical music festival. While the initial drawcard last year was big acts like Jack White, Crowded House, The Black Crowes, Khruangbin and Groove Armada, it wasn’t just about the music – crowds were also won over with pop-up cellar doors, bars, restaurants and top chefs.
The festival is held right on the doorstep of South Australia’s wine country and a short walk from Adelaide’s CBD. The inspiration? A trip to Napa Valley in California for music festival Bottle Rock.
“The whole foundation of being in the Napa is good wine and food and music,” says Harvest Rock co-founder and Secret Sounds co-CEO Jess Ducrou. “They're personal interests of mine, so I was quite inspired by [Bottle Rock] – without wanting to do exactly what they did and making sure we had our own interpretation.”
As Harvest Rock returns in 2023, the dual focus – food and wine on one hand, music on the other – is ramping up again. While many festivals have stalls and bars, few have collaborated with big hospitality names like Harvest Rock has.
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“I think the range of food and beverage really resonated for the audience,” Ducrou says. “That comes from Paul [Pittico, Secret Sounds’ other CEO] and I, in our old age, wanting to offer a variety of amazing wine and beautiful food, of which Adelaide has an abundance. Often you get either standalone food festivals or you get music festivals, but I, in Australia, hadn’t yet come across one that combined both in a really credible way.”
This means the Adelaide-based festival is geared not just for the younger crowd, as music festivals often are, but also for an older set keen on festival experiences with extra comforts. There’s a wellness centre called the Grape Escape; curated pre-performance menus by wine critic Nick Stock; a section for children and tweens called Little Harvest, with an arts and crafts tent, painting wall, glitter tattoos and circus workshops; and the return of the pop-up cellar door, which is more than doubling in size.
Full food line-ups will be announced soon, but we do know the Wildwoods food precinct will feature pop-ups from top Adelaide eateries, plus Truck Town, on Bartels Road, which will host a crowd of food trucks.
While many of 2022’s successes are making comebacks, there’s one new addition this year. “We’re going to introduce a stage called Yes Chef, where we have an emcee who talks to winemakers, musicians and personalities, and will do cooking demonstrations and tastings,” says Ducrou.
This year’s festival is headlined by legends Beck, Jamiroquai and Nile Rodgers. It’s been five years since Beck was last here with his full band, and a longer 12 years since Jamiroquai’s last show – they’re only performing in Australia for Harvest Rock, with no side shows anywhere else in the country. The music line-up nods to a mixed crowd.
“I work on a number of festivals and age demographics, and sometimes it’s hard to integrate artists that have had a long career because the kids aren’t necessarily listening to them, so you have to do that in a way that’s artful,” Ducrou says. “Harvest is kind of a guilty pleasure.”
For Ducrou, this year’s pick of the bunch includes weirdo pop stalwarts Sparks and the eclectic Beck, who she saw at Spain’s Primavera last year. “He was playing with a full band – which he is at Harvest as well – and it was singularly one of the best festival performances I’ve ever seen,” she says. Ducrou is just as passionate about younger and contemporary acts. “On the Australian front, I think Surprise Chef – [who plays] in a developing, baby Khruangbin style – and the Babe Rainbow will be great.”
Also on the bill are international acts Bright Eyes, Ladyhawke, Santigold and Warpaint, performing alongside Aussies Paul Kelly, Thelma Plum, Ocean Alley, Chet Faker, Julia Jacklin, Baker Boy, Flight Facilities and Adelaide locals Bad Dreems.
Offering more than just the music also meant that, in 2022, Harvest Rock attracted a far-flung crowd keen on exploring beyond the festival. It’s something Ducrou hopes to see again this year.
“Adelaide’s great,” she says. “If you’re travelling from interstate, what we’ve found is that people come for the festival, but then they’re also out visiting the wineries, they’re going out to the restaurants while they’re in town. It’s actually a really fantastic excuse to take a trip to Adelaide.”
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Secret Sounds.