Summer Sounds music festival is the innovative “COVID-safe” solution to the previously suffering live music industry (Image source: Meika Bottrill)

By Meika Bottrill | @meikabotttrill

On Friday, January 8 the Jungle Giants, Allday and TOWNS took to the stage at Bonython Park in the first major music festival in Adelaide since the global outbreak of COVID-19 early last year.

The month-long music festival features artists such as Ocean Alley, Lime Cordiale, Ball Park Music, Cub Sport, Hayden James and many more.

Socially distanced pods at Summer Sounds. (Image Source: Meika Bottrill)

Summer Sounds was given the go-ahead on January 7, after being postponed due to the NSW COVID-19 outbreak making some artists unable to travel to Adelaide. The organisations quickly found replacements for those artists, demonstrating how the global pandemic has made it fundamental for us to adapt in an everchanging world.

Summer Sounds “COVID-safe” music festival sells tickets in groups of two, four or six, separating the audience into individual pods and maintaining social distancing requirements.

The music festival worked closely with SA Health to make sure it met the current COVID-19 safety restrictions while also creating an exciting atmosphere for its audience.

Each pod is given different entry times to minimise crowding of queues and are provided with wristbands that allow for contact tracing among audience members if needed.

Each pod is separated by fences with chairs and an ice bucket to keep your alcohol chilled. There are also individual QR codes that allow you to purchase drinks (delivered in a golf buggy… obviously) from the comfort of your own pod.

Once you’re in the venue you’re only allowed to leave your pod for two reasons: the bathroom or food. And with food venues such as Gang Gang, Greek Palace, Pappi’s Pizza and Sookii Lai Lai you’re guaranteed to be satisfied.

The music festival comes as a welcome relief to the already suffering live music scene in Australia. In April last year, the Australian music industry had reported a $330 million loss from cancelled shows due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Jaime Wilson is an Adelaide based singer and songwriter who released her debut album at the end of last year after postponing its initial release due to COVID-19 restrictions making it difficult to record.


“I had my last gig pre-COVID-19 in February and my next gig was late August so it was a long time,” she said.

“I know a lot of my friends make their money by doing six gigs a week so they went from doing that to trying to make a living doing online [performances] at home.

“It was a strange time and no one really knew what we should be doing with the music industry,” she said.

While Jaime was unable to perform as much in 2020, she hopes she will be able to continue performing her music live this year.

“Live music is something super personal for me [as] I’m not usually good at expressing my emotions so I like to do that through music,” she said.  

“There is nothing like emulating that through live music and seeing other people in the audience react to the song.”

Live music is not only an integral part of connecting the artist to the audience, but it is also the main stream of income for most local musicians.

“Touring and live music is where most people get the money, people are buying tickets, merchandise, hard copy CD’s and stuff like that,” Jaime said.

“Streaming is definitely what we’ve had to rely on but it’s not a very sturdy way of living.”

Summer Sounds continues celebrating live Australian music until January 31.