8 Unforgettable Festival Line-Ups From The 90s

8 Unforgettable Festival Line-Ups From The 90s

big day out 1996
Kylie Minogue joins Nick Cave at Big Day Out, 1996 (Photo by Bob King/Redferns/Getty Images)

The 90s was a magic time for music festivals in Australia. There was plenty of rock n roll, and a large proportion of Aussie acts getting their big stage debuts.

Here are some of our favourites line-ups from the festivals that defined youth culture in Oz in the 90s. 

Livid Festival, 1998

This is a personal one for me, as it was the first time I headed interstate for a music festival. Reading street press in Melbourne and listening to community stations like 3PBS, 3RRR and of course Triple J, my friends and I had found part of our musical path, so when we saw the line-up, we decided on a Queensland holiday to go check it out. Those community stations got us right into bands like Sprung Monkey, Toe to Toe, Nokturnl and Guttermouth, so we were stoked to see them sharing a festival with emerging bigger bands like The Living End, Grinspoon (who had floored me with A Guide To Better Living), Regurgitator, and then topping it off with international bands Public Enemy, The Dandy Warhols and Sonic Youth, oh man, we were in Alternative heaven. Great time. 


livid festival 1998

Big Day Out, 1992 

Well, this edition of the Big Day Out will always go down in history as monumental. The inaugural event that set up Australia Days to come, and weighted heavily with the addition of the world’s biggest band at the time, Nirvana. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find one hell of a gig that I remember reasonably well (drinks were consumed, it was hot after all). I remember charging to see The Hard Ons with Henry Rollins, my first time ever seeing that line-up, standing in awe of the power. The Meanies, totally awesome live band that my friends had seen numerous times. Violent Femmes, Cosmic Psychos, Falling Joys, The Clouds, Ratcat, and Violent Femmes just rounded it out for me. Magnificent. 


big day out 1992

Rock Above The Falls, 1994

Yes, before it changed its name to Falls Festival, it was Rock Above The Falls. I remember driving down there in mum’s HiAce van with another couple of mates in their Mitsubishi van, smuggling in booze, and just having the best time. The festival was still in its infancy and to be honest, under-resourced, but it was a blast because of the line up on New Year's Eve. Cop an eyeful of this. Hoodoo Gurus, Cosmic Psychos, Silverchair, Spiderbait, Tumbleweed, Hoss, Nick Barker, and I’m sure there’s more I’m forgetting. 

Push Over, 1997

What a line up we were treated to in 1997! This drug and alcohol-free festival had only been running a few years and in 1997 it stepped up a notch with the who’s who of the alternative Australian music scene at the time. The Living End, Bodyjar, Frenzal Rhomb, Regurgitator, Grinspoon, Jebediah, The Superjesus, Something For Kate and more. It was the PINNACLE of Aussie goodness in one brilliant year. Radio programmers were falling over themselves to play more and more Aussie rock, thus resulting in enormous support for the local alternative rock scene. It was a beautiful time. 

Read more: 5 Reasons Festivals Were Better In The 90s

Summersault, 1995/96

The first and only incarnation of this festival that did a brief joint in the Summer of 95/6 around Australia was a doozy. Despite the promise of bigger and better line-ups to come, it never returned. Bloody shame that. None the less, for those lucky enough to go, you got to see Beastie Boys, Foo Fighters, Sonic Youth, Beck, Pavement, Rancid, Bodyjar and more. As dusk fell in Sydney, the Foo Fighters took to the stage, and it was pure magic. 

Homebake, 1996

You could argue the better line up between 96 and 98 for Homebake, but I’m going with 96 to highlight what was happening then. Australia had a large number of alternative bands that pulled crowds, and they just played EVERY festival that came through town. Homebake was such a solid festival for so many years too. It was not only brilliant for bands, but for fans who loved seeing Aussie bands doing great things. The 1996 incarnation of Homebake saw Grinspoon, Powderfinger, Magic Dirt, Regurgitator, Silverchair, Spiderbait, Tumbleweed, The Mark Of Cain and Shihad amongst the top acts. Just quality from start to finish, awesome warm days, and great times. 

Read more: You Were A Rocker In The 90s If...

Big Day Out, 1995

A truly memorable event, and personally, one of my favourite festival line-ups for a few reasons. In Melbourne, an extremely young Silverchair took to the Triple R stage in front of a MASSIVE crowd, so huge in fact that people started to climb trees and building to gain a better vantage point. For anyone who bought their single of "Israel's Son" on CD, that’s where the live sound came from. There were blokes on the roof on the adjoining building stage diving into the crowd, it was madness! Watching Courtney Love drag someone up from the crowd to pash them on stage was also something else. Allegiance from WA smashed the main stage, incredible, and Ministry, The Cult and Oasis topping off the day was huge. 

A tip of the hat to all the BDO’s in the 90’s in fact.. crazy times. 1999 deserves a special shout-out for hosting Hole, Marilyn Manson, Fat Boy Slim, Underworld, and Aussie's The Superjesus, Warumpi Band and TISM.


big day out 1995

Alternative Nation, 1995

This big-budget affair brought to life by gig promoters and industry heavyweights Michael Chugg and Michael Gudinski – plus radio station Triple M – had a line-up on paper that suggested a success. But when headliners the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Stone Temple Pilots pulled out, ticket sales were slow for the Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne event and it wouldn’t return the following year. Nonetheless, there were big names who made it down for the inaugural festival, including Nine Inch Nails, Faith No More, Tool, L7, Live, Body Count, Pennywise, Therapy? and Primus.


alternative nation 1995

What were your favourite Aussie festival line-ups in the 90s? Let us know on Facebook. 

If you love this kinda nostalgia, be sure to follow our I Like: The 90s playlist on Spotify...


Read more: The Aussie Music Festivals That Made Us



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