Hy-Fest organiser Luke Armstrong on Wollongong’s great annual rock, punk and metal party

By Rod Hunt
Unbelievably Bad Contributor

Hy-test. Photo by Glenn Koek of Shutter2Think photography.

Hy-Test. Photo by Glenn Koek of Shutter2Think photography.

Hy-Fest is on again this weekend in Wollongong, NSW, and the line-up is definitely worth a road trip from wherever the hell you are.

One of the festival’s founders, Luke Armstrong of Hy-Test and BRUCE!, reflects on the highlights and lowlights of the previous five events and what’s going on with his bands at ATM…


What have been some of the best/worst/funniest/most disastrous moments at past Hy-Fests?
Best – the ’Weed [Tumbleweed] playing at the first one. They played under a pseudonym and blew the place apart. Worst – most recently, having our second stage cut out by the licence police. The fun police are always on patrol. Funniest – King Parrot slapping the shit out of each other onstage. I don’t know why but I have never laughed so hard while such brutal metal plays.  Most disastrous – High Tension blew up our sound system early in the day two years ago.

Five favourite bands from the ’Gong (past or present)?
Rukus – street oi! punk that have gotten tight as fuck over the years, seasoned veterans. Babymachine – the longest-running all girl band in Australia, amazing peeps and great songs. Tumbleweed – great guys and brothers. Literally. This kinda speaks for itself. Thumlock – gave us a lotta breaks, beloved stoners that always delivered the goods. Zambian Goat Herders – grew up on this band. Dave, the lead singer, worked at the youth centre and gave all my friends their break in the “scene”.

Luke Armstrong of Hy-test at Hy-fest 2014. Photo by Rod Hunt.

Luke Armstrong of Hy-Test at Hy-Fest 2014. Photo by Rod Hunt.

What are the best and worst things about living in the ’Gong?
The best thing about living in the ’Gong is that we still have our own culture, we live between the mountains and the sea and we are still our own entity. The worst thing is that we are slowly becoming the next Sydney. We used to have a rep for being a working town now we are becoming a holiday/investor paradise.

What’s the greatest music festival you’ve ever been to and/or played at?
The best festival Hy-Test have played is Hellfest, in Clisson, France. We got to play early in the day with Mondo Generator to the biggest crowd we have ever played to and we got to watch and meet Slayer, Motörhead and KISS after we played. Nothing will ever touch that day.

Noro of The Vee Bees at Hy-fest 2014. Photo by Rod Hunt.

Noro of The Vee Bees at Hy-Fest 2014. Photo by Rod Hunt.

What’s been happening recently with BRUCE!  and Hy-Test and what’s coming up for both bands?
BRUCE! decided that we would take a break. We are all good mates. We don’t wanna go stale, we enjoy playing together and we are writing constantly. Hy-Test have just released a new EP and I think it’s the best recording we have put out. I’m excited for what the future holds. We have gigs with some really cool bands coming up you can check out if ya wanna.



Hy-Fest 2016 is on this Saturday, December 10, from 2.30pm at Dicey’s Irish Pub, Wollongong. Features King Parrot, Hy-Test, Front End Loader, Batpiss, The Dead Rats, DEAD, The Vee Bees, Flour, Skinpin, Babymachine and Maggot.



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