Gang of Youths’ appearances at Ohana Festival, Neighbourhood Weekender pushed to 2021

If you were hoping to see Gang of Youths at the Ohana Festival in California in September, or the Neighbourhood Weekender in it’s time to practice patience. It’s still going to happen, but not for another year.

Organizers announced this week that the 2020 festival — originally scheduled the last weekend of September — is being postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. That should come as no surprise to anyone at this point. As the official announcement says,

“While this decision was not taken lightly, the health and safety of every individual in attendance will always be our top priority. Our audience, artists, community, and crew are what makes Ohana a one-of-a-kind event, especially in its idyllic setting. We must put safety first. So we thank you deeply and want to express our gratitude.”

What’s pretty remarkable is that they managed to get the entire 2020 lineup to commit to performing at next year’s event. And as best I can tell, everyone’s performing on the same day they were supposed to play this year.

So that means Gang of Youths is still on day two with Eddie Vedder as the headliner. But it’ll happen on September 25, 2021, instead of this September. If you have tickets for the 2020 festival, they’ll be honored for next year’s event.

Meanwhile, the same fate has befallen the UK’s Neighbourhood Weekender festival. Originally planned for last month, organizers postponed it to September … but have now also pushed it back to 2021.

Most of the artists booked this year are on the lineup for next May. In the case of GOY, they’ll play on day one, which is May 29, 2021.

That leaves New Jersey’s Sea.Hear.Now festival as the lone standout on GOY’s 2020 itinerary. Kinda shocked that it’s still scheduled for September 19-20, but if I were a ticket holder, I wouldn’t hold my breath that it actually happens.

Donnie Borzestowski’s New Side Project, Special Friends, Releases “Big Sur” Single

No one’s gonna accuse Gang of Youths’ drummer Donnie Borzestowski of slowing down.

While his main gig with GOY is on what appears to be a pandemic-induced slowdown (hiatus?), Donnie has just released a new song called “Big Sur” with his latest side project called Special Friends. If you follow Donnie or some of the band’s associates on Instagram, you’ve been seeing some sneak peeks mentioning this new project.

The song premiered Tuesday night on Triple J and is now available on all the major digital music platforms. Here’s the official lyric video:

The song has a great, laid-back sound that kinda sounds like the California landmark that it’s named after.

Special Friends consists of Donnie and friends who are only listed by their first name in all the news I can find about them: Keith, Randal, David, Alan and Jerry. According to Triple J news, Special Friends is working on more songs and has plans for an EP release eventually.

The official announcement about Special Friends includes what has to be the most wholesome launch story in music history, which includes a mention of Donnie’s first kiss with his wife, Anna, and then transitions into the other guys in the new band. Here’s a screenshot from the Triple J article linked above.

This is the third side project Donnie’s been involved in just within the past year. In November, he released Blue Coloured Mountain, an EP featuring songs by his late brother Szymon. He also appeared last August on Jesse Madigan’s new album. Talk about keeping busy….

No Speakers in the Outfield: A Saturday Stroll Around London’s Victoria Park

[Ed. note: Tens of thousands of music fans were supposed to be at London’s Victoria Park this past Saturday, where they would’ve seen Gang of Youths perform during the second weekend of All Points East. It’s one of the UK’s newest music festivals — and already honored as one of the best. The coronavirus pandemic forced organizers to cancel the festival, but Gang of Youths fan Samuel Draper spent the day at Victoria Park, anyway. He shares the experience below for DeepestSighs.com.]

The weather is gorgeous, there’s people together and having fun, and there are still snatches of music — one man with a guitar on the grass, someone else blasting something I don’t recognise as they ride past on a bike. But it’s not a festival.

This is Victoria Park in London, it’s Saturday 30th May, and it would have been the All Points East (APE) festival if it wasn’t for COVID-19. Seeing Gang of Youths (and The Kooks, The Wombats and more) in the sun was not meant to be.

Instead, it remains a normal park, with sunbathers, picnic eaters, and people playing football while obeying social distancing rules. None of this would be happening if the festival had set up.

But it’s not safe to run shows yet, especially large festival gatherings. Maybe one day we will have to jump to “Magnolia” in hazmat-style suits, or stand two metres away as Dave runs through the audience, but we’re not there yet.

Instead, it’s this, a contrast from the same Saturday one year previously, when APE saw sets from GOY friends like Mumford & Sons and Gretta Ray dominating one of the capital’s biggest stages.

As I walked around, I remembered the little things about festivals which won’t happen this summer, good and bad.

No security is going to stop me from having bottlecaps, or unsealed bottles of soft drinks.

I’m not going to wonder what a band will play in a shortened set — will there be new songs?

I’m not going to play the game of watching a changeover between acts and guessing which band has which roadie. That might not be as fun, anyway. I’d recognise guitar tech Stuart Dew, who the band have said they are proud to have stolen from Nothing But Thieves.

Festivals are a great way to pack lots of music in, and find new acts. I make it seven festival cancellations for GOY this spring and summer, and lots of acts have been hit way worse. That’s thousands of people who would have seen Dave, Max, Donnie, Jung, and Tom, but now won’t.

At first, this made me sad. Then I realised there’s no time limit to becoming a Gang of Youths fan. Next time, next summer, whenever live experiences come back, they’ll be there. Dave sings about making the most of the moment, “our time is short” and other clichés, but I think living without it for now will make the return a little bit special.

On the edge of Victoria Park was the People’s Park Tavern, serving takeaway alcohol and food. Did I join a long queue for a cold cider and an overpriced portion of fries? Of course I did. What about it? It’s festival season.

About the Author

Samuel Draper is a journalist from east London. He has been a Gang of Youths fan since “What Can I Do If The Fire Goes Out?” in early 2017. His passions include music, writing, and walking around aimlessly, which made this easy to put together. You can find him on Twitter and/or Instagram.