After the delays seen in Bendigo last weekend, I was surprised to see that such queues weren’t an issue at the Maitland Groovin The Moo Festival. Well, around 1pm anyway. Apparently by 3pm, things got a bit crazy – but with a predominantly Sydney based crowd, is it any surprise everyone was running later than Melbourne?
As I made my way into my first ever Groovin The Moo, I was pretty excited for the day to come. It’s rare these days for me to experience a new festival in a new location relatively local, and with a great lineup to match – what more could I ask for a Saturday afternoon? – the sun bearing down on us in beautiful 25 degree heat. I could hear The Jezabels performing while I was sorting out my passes at the gate, and unfortunately missed their set (which sounded as beautiful as ever!) – so I began my day with Jonathan Boulet over at the cleverly named Moolin Rouge tent.
Having spent the previous evening with the Sydney prodigy at Big British Sound, I pretty much knew what to expect from the set – yet somehow it came off as something completely new. Albiet with less Gorillaz (from what I saw anyway!). The crowd truly responded to the groups set, as they did with pretty much every band that day – these were great crowds, super enthusiastic, and during “Community Service Announcement”, they helped make possible an epic singalong. You could have seen Boulet’s grin from the other side of the planet! It must have been a pretty amazing feeling being on that stage. A great set, a great way to start off the day.
I’ve never been a big Kisschasy fan, but I was impressed to see the crowd swelling to see the Melbourne quartet, chanting along to all their hits, such as the ever popular "Opinions Won't Keep You Warm at Night". Their on stage energy was understandably amplified by the reception they were receiving from the Maitland crowd, and helped add to the ridiculously fun atmosphere.
Lisa Mitchell followed, and you could start to see the crowd growing larger and larger by the minute – attacking the phone lines in the process, and causing a bit of mayhem outside (so I’m told). I think we’re at a point in our relationship with Lisa Mitchell that it can honestly be said – Australia loves Lisa Mitchell. And so we should. She’s fantastic on the stage, and the productions of her songs become more elaborate, furthering their brilliance every time I see her perform. What started with “Coin Laundry” has grown into a whole album of tracks that people adore – and much like when I saw her late last year, it’s clear that everyone has their favourite. Be it “Stevie” or “Oh! Hark” – but they all get equal love from her adoring crowd. And while a shy character, she doesn’t hesitate in chatting with the crowd, furthering on their involvement.
Just days off releasing their Avalanche LP, which hit number 10 on the ARIA charts shortly after they played Maitland, British India delivered a rollicking set at the Showgrounds. While they gave us plenty of tracks of the new album, including “Vanilla”, they didn’t shy away from old favourites such as "Run the Red Light”. They even through in a brilliant cover of Nirvana’s “Lithium”, which saw the crowd totally lose their minds. For a band who started out the dingy pubs around Melbourne and Sydney, It’s great to see them perform with such confidence on the big stages these days. Not many garage rock bands (if you can still call them that) have the ability to translate it outside said dingy pubs, so it’s to their credit that they pull this off – commanding the stage, and leaving a legion of fans in their wake.
It doesn’t sound like the Groovin the Moo crowds have been too accepting to Spoon – which is a pity as they’re one of my favourite bands. But they really aren’t a festival band. Even with “oh THAT’S who Spoon are!” tracks like “Small Stakes” and “The Way We Get By” – as well as “Standing in Reverse” off the latest album, and “Turn My Camera On” – the four of which made up the first portion of the set – it’s in their more experimental numbers that the band truly shine. They show this off time and time again on the sideshow circuit – but they’re limited in both time and crowd patience when playing a festival, which is quite a pity. But nonetheless, they churned out an energetic set to a crowd who was more accepting of them than I expected – and rightfully so! Those impressed should definitely see them in a smaller venue next time they’re in town. “Don’t Make Me a Target”, “You Got Yr Cherry Bomb” and “The Messenger” were among the tracks to round out the set!
I was surprised at the amount of people who were there pretty much just to see Tegan and Sara – they had pulled a crowd very much full of their fans, singing along to just about every song. “Alligator” was a particular personal highlight, but as I’m not too familiar with their entire catalogue, it was just as entertaining to see everyone around me so into the music, making for a pretty special performance. Of particular mention was the stage presence of the Canadians. They were our gracious hosts on the stage, and delivered as much banter as they could in between songs. I imagine both Tegan and Sara to be ridiculously lovely people – and it’s clear they adore what they do. And that sort of dedication and enthusiasm can’t help but be intoxicating – you leave the set feeling pretty damn good about what you just saw.
Speaking of intoxication, despite the lack of full strength alcohol at the festival, I was JUST intoxicated enough to be in the perfect frame of mind by the time that Grinspoon came onto the stage. Always slagging them off as a “bogan” band, and not my sort of thing, I was surprised when I found myself singing along to every song, and commenting to my friend – “So it turns out I like this band and that they’re really fun live!”
Groovin the Moo. Teaching Larry things and helping him lose his credibility since 2010. Although I don’t discount the fact that it COULD have just been the country atmosphere washing off on me!
It was very much a greatest hits set, and it comes as a bit of a shock when you realise just how many great tracks the band have turned out, and how long they’ve been doing it. The great stage presence that is Phil Jamieson didn’t shy away from mentioning that some of these tracks were written 15 years ago, making us all feel a little older than we should. “Thrills, Kills & Sunday Pills” and “Chemical Heart” were the easy crowd favourites – but it was very much a singalong from start to finish.
I couldn’t help but be confused, yet mesmerized by the over the top nature of the Empire of the Sun stage show – clearly set up to help us ignore the fact that it’s not quite possible for Luke Steele to sing their music properly, due in part to the original production, and the fact that Littlemore went AWOL on the project post album completion. While it’s great to see such effort put into a show, it’s ultimately distracting (case and point) and unnecessary. Not to mention tacky. Some of the songs do translate reasonably well on the stage, and others fall flat on their face, but I can’t help but feel like this was a project that should have remained in the studio – love it or hate it.
Catching a bit of Kid Koala presents The Slew Live before Vampire Weekend took the stage, I felt fairly in awe of the whole thing as I watched it. I honestly had no idea what was going on – Kid Koala and Dynomite D, commanding the turntables, were mixing things up so fast, and with such precision, that I couldn’t have told you who was doing what, nor how they were doing it. And with the ex-Wolfmothers by their side, they had a brilliant rhythm section to help make everything seem even more seamless, keeping the crown moving from start to finish. Impressive doesn’t quite cut it.
For me, the day was all about Vampire Weekend, and as I pushed my way through the crowd, seeking out that prime viewing spot, I couldn’t help but start singing “Cousins” out loud before they’d even come onto the stage, Empire of the Sun finishing up their set with 300 bows before the crowd next door. Oh that Luke Steele! The hour long set covered just about all the bases – favourites off the first album were all given a whirl – “A-Punk”, “Oxford Comma” and “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” being such highlights, and great singalongs, while the new album was treated and received just as well. Not only has the new album succeeded in keeping old fans on board, but it’s brought a barrage of new fans along for the ride to come. Tracks like “Holiday”, “Run”, “Cousins” and “Giving Up The Gun” were all sung along to word for word – and only two of them are singles! They’re one of my favourite bands – in fact they were the first band I ever wrote a review for on the site! - and it’s great to see so many agree. Meanwhile, I continue to be impressed, as I was back then, that live they live up to the hype – and then some.
Launching with an epic, breathtaking version of “Emotion Sickness”, Silverchair immediately reminded us why they are the band we all used to love. And he seemed to be a lot more into the old stuff than he had been in recent years. Surely that must bode well for the new stuff? Unfortunately, it was not to be – it remains the unimpressive, Paul Mac inspired music we’re slowly getting used to. He really should just stay in the Dissociatives for that sort of content. I can’t say the set was a disappointment, because I expected it of the new material – but when the old stuff was played so well, I couldn’t help but feel a hint of disappointment in a different light. I don’t quite understand why I still feel passion in his older tracks, yet he seems oblivious to just how polarising the new material is – even to the point of calling the crowd “c*nts” for not getting behind it. And on that note, with my once favourite band seemingly throwing away any credibility they had left, I went over to the Moolin Rouge for one last dance.
I ended my night in style with a bit of a dance to the mash up brilliance that is Yacht Club DJs (in which “Lithium” by Nirvana re-appeared), before heading back to hear Silverchair ending their set with the likes of “Straight Lines” – which I have to admit wasn’t the worst track in the world. Perhaps the new stuff will grow on me – I just miss the old school days! All in all, I had an amazing day, with my only gripe being the overpriced “mid-strength” versions of everything. If I wanted to drink nothing but watered down beer, I’d live in America! That said, Cascade Premium Light is drinkable. But at $6 a pop, not really worth it. I’m sure there’s an argument for keeping people’s alcohol intake at a minimum, but the people who are the problem have usually smuggled stuff in anyway – be it drugs or alcohol. I hate being punished for all those tossers, but oh well, such is life! See you all in there next year!