Arriving in sunny Canberra around 10.30am, it was a shock to the senses when exiting the car at The Meadows on the grounds of the University of Canberra. Festival goers were treated to a taste of temperatures of around 9 degrees (I checked) with a wonderful, icy breeze thrown in for good measure - welcome to Canberra in autumn! The cold weather in mind, I still find it both confusing and humourous that there were punters dressed in shorts, singlets and all number of summer clothing items.
Having ventured to Canberra last year for Groovin’ The Moo and also missing last years Mother’s Day, it was nice to know the layout hasn’t changed. One of the things I love about the festival is the easy access layout. Two main stages where acts alternate and one smaller stage underneath a marquee that usually, but not always, houses the more dance, electro and miscellaneous acts. The vibe of the festival is chilled and people can relax on the hill with a drink during the day to soak up the sun and enjoy the acts.
Upon entering, we were greeted by the sounds of Perth natives San Cisco. It’s great to see a band playing so early (11.50am) receive such a warm welcome from the crowd. The band breezed through their set playing selections such as ‘Golden Revolver’, ‘Rocket Ship’ and finishing with the crowd favourite and #7 in this year’s Triple J Hottest 100, ‘Awkward’. Melbourne duo Big Scary made sure everyone was wide awake when they took to the stage; for such a minimal setup, I would say that they were one of the loudest bands to play throughout the day! An impressive set which was peppered with selections from their debut album ‘Vacation’.
Without even looking at the lineup sheet that I’d printed out earlier, I knew from the deafening female (and to a lesser extent, male) screams that the next act that had appeared on stage was Mr. Matt Corby. The time slot that Corby was given completed suited the soulful folk nature of his music and there was no shortage of sing-alongs to songs like ‘Soul’s A’Fire’ and his signature tune, ‘Brother’. Underneath the marquee of the Moolin Rouge stage Mutemath did a fantastic job of getting the crowd energised and dancing about - just what the cold weather called for! Following Mutemath, the Purple Sneakers DJs got a rather enthusiastic response from the crowd which resulted in the set being temporarily stopped while security helped people out of the pit and the crowd had a chance to settle before resuming.
Back over on the main stage, Byron’s sons Parkway Drive were carving up a storm and trying to warm themselves up in the process. Lead singer Winston commented on having travelled the world and yet this still managing to be the coldest festival they’ve ever played! Their own brand of punk-infused metal/hardcore was the perfect warm-up for the eager crowd down in the mosh pit. Over on the right-hand stage Ball Park Music got the crowd dancing and singing along to their easily accessible sound. I’ve only ever really listened to a couple of Ball Park Music songs but it’s funny how many of them I actually knew without realising. The band played a stellar set featuring hits like ‘All I Want Is You’, ‘IFLY’ and ‘It’s Nice To Be Alive’.
Dallas Green and co. in City and Colour lulled everyone in the crowd with his angelic voice and providing a little relax time before the PE assault. Public Enemy hit the stage with full force and never relented. I managed to see PE a couple of years ago at Falls Festival and they never fail to impress. Chuck D, Flava, DJ Lord and the rest of the band tore through renditions of classics like ‘Bring The Noise’ and ‘911 Is A Joke’ with a short pause in memory of the recently departed Adam Yauch aka MCA of the Beastie Boys and DJ Lord mixing the Nirvana hit ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ into the set. PE proved that they are still as relevant and important as ever in the music community; Flava ending the set by giving an impassioned speech about peace and asking the entire crowd to raise the peace sign in the air. Brilliant, moving stuff.
The quirky and beautiful Kimbra provided a vibrant and upbeat performance that you just had to dance to. Electro dance act Digitalism and English lads Kaiser Chiefs closed the festival to enthusiastic, albeit smaller, crowds.
The Groovin’ The Moo festivals are fantastic events held in rural areas of Australia that normally don’t see this many bands all at once and this year was no exception. Get along next year and be sure to rug up! One shirt, two hoodies/jumpers and a beanie should do the trick.