Festival Review: Groovin’ the Moo – Hay Park, Bunbury (07.05.16)

‘We play rain, hail or shine’ has never been more relevant than in 2016 for Perth festivals, however the Bunbury leg of Groovin’ The Moo managed to march on through the temperamental weather with some killer acts without resorting to doing the worm through a giant mud puddle.

While for those staying outside of Bunbury, getting on to a shuttle bus proved to be an arduous task, with punters trying to work out where they were supposed to lineup, the trip itself was smooth enough arriving shortly after gates open. Maybe it was early, but entry staff seemed to be more efficient than ever with wristband dispensers handing out free Red Bull cards like candy.

The Groovin’ The Moo layout is probably one of the easier ones to navigate from experience; stages to the right, tent to the left, bars either side, happy days! And as this tour’s MC’s reminded everyone through pre-recorded intermissions, make sure to organise your squad’s Meeting Tree. Hell, not even the rain could stop the onslaught of bright red legionnaires hats it seemed, as they were seen trotting through the crowds.

Fresh from their sideshow touring with MS MR, local electro pop duo GRRL PAL had the crowd well and truly warmed up from the start. Luckily located in the Moolin Rouge Tent as the morning was still spitting, they opened straight away with their cover of SBTRKT’s “Wildfire”, before moving onto lighter paced tracks that had the pre-midday crowd grooving.

Checking out the twin Channel V / Triple J stage, Harts was sending out some seriously wicked guitar vibes, interrupted briefly by a five minute monsoon without deterring much of the crowd.  Seeking refuge in the Udder Mayhem VIP area, there were some very cool little features for throwing down some extra cash – namely having a roof over your head – but heaters, a cash bar and an amenities table for the ladies, complete with dry shampoo and wet wipes was pretty damned good.

An act I was keen to finally see live were up next; after gaining plenty of attention with their tracks “Kingdom Leader”, “Deception Bay” and “Fool” last year, Boo Seeka put on a great set full of energetic yet dreamy melodies mixed with steady rock. The duo were easily engaging.  Keeping in step with the sensual vibes, Emma Louise drew in a crowd with her haunting and wistful electronic stylings, working the stage from start to finish as she opened with her latest tracks “Underflow” and “Talk Baby Talk”, before dedicating “My Head Is A Jungle” to her old Karate teacher that had everyone swaying and singing along.

Between Louise’s metallic two piece ensemble and her keyboardist’s amazing wet look leggings, you were hard pressed to find better festival fashion.  The only timetable clash I had problems with was setting up-and-coming songstress NGAIIRE at the same time, but here’s hoping WA hasn’t seen the last of her this year.

Changing pace, DZ Deathrays smashed it, the front rows taking some time to warm up, but soon enough, the whole forward half of the crowd were a sea of jumping heads and crowd surfing legs in the air.  New track “Blood On My Leather” got a fair reception, though favourites from their Black Rat album definitely garnered the strongest buzz, while their cover of Blur’s “Song 2” welcomed utter mayhem.  

Heading back to the Moolin Rouge Tent, it was difficult to get the full experience of Vallis Alps’ atmospheric tunes, as punters seemed more engaged in their phones and talking amongst themselves. There were a few minor technical difficulties throughout the day peaking this time with the sound dropping out for a full 15 or so seconds, but to singer Parissa’s credit, she continued performing without hesitation.

At the Channel V Stage, Drapht was by far one of the highlights, with crowds amassing both in the general area and the over 18’s section, tearing through the adapted “Bunbury Party”, “Rapunzel”, and of course “Jimmy Recard”, complete with live flute that had people echoing the lyrics with dedication before throwing out a new, yet to be released track which received no shortage of energy. MS MR followed, while British India practically commanded the Moolin Rouge stage, tracks like “I Can Make You Love Me” getting the whole crowd crooning, before letting loose with their cover of Rage Against the Machine‘s “Killing In The Name”.

SAFIA hit the Channel V Stage full of unique synths, diverse vocals and crazy graphics, seemingly hitting a small glitch as they restarted “Counting Sheep”.  Having seen them a few times in the last couple of months, the band have always managed to completely deliver their eerie electronic pop, the crowd getting down to the deep percussion and soaring voice of newest release “Make Them Wheels Roll”.  

Venturing out for some delish gozleme, the heavenly tones of Jarryd James could be heard carrying across the festival grounds, what little sun there had been beginning to set and punters deciding between what headliners to see. What So Not turned the Moolin Rouge Stage into an all out party, while also experiencing some of the typical passive aggressive crowd antics as hundreds tried to get to one spot or another.  During the set, the producer brought on their stage predecessors In Hearts Wake for an unusual collab that had the crowd going nuts.

Back at the twin main stages you were reminded how much of a fan base Twenty One Pilots had as they showered Bunbury in both force-packed tunes and production spectacular, shooting off confetti cannons and covering House of Pain’s “Jump Around”.  Their sets are always interesting as they move so casually between hip hop, electronic and rock influences, constant cheers and screams could be heard from the crowd as the duo rocked a percussion set front of stage.

Up next, The Rubens seemed to meet the hype as people huddled together against the evening winds, bouncing along to “My Gun” before erupting to the Hottest #100 track “Hoops”.  Even the stage was buzzing, with Joyride from The Meeting Tree appearing with Lizzy from MS MR atop his shoulders as they rocked out alongside the band.

It was back to the chaos of the Moolin Rouge Tent for ODESZA, as those ethereal electronic tracks had everyone dancing.  Unfortunately between here and Golden Features‘ set, someone made the annual pilgrimage up one of the tent support poles, exerting the most acrobatic feats he could muster which mainly involved shaking the wallet/phone from his pockets, before safely coming down.  Maybe I just didn’t hang around enough but I found Golden Features’ set a little disappointing; especially after seeing him bring it to other festivals, his opening tracks just didn’t fill the room like I had anticipated and were missing a touch of vibrancy.

Boy and Bear and Of Monsters and Men held up the twin main stage for the end of the night, giving as strong a performance as ever on both sides.  While there were debates about whether the chilled out indie folk rock was suitable for the late shift and whether all of the latter’s songs had the word ‘mountain’ in it, the crowds were in full force swaying along in the freezing night.  At Moolin Rouge, Illy was doling out that final dose of Aussie hip hop we were all craving, though I don’t think any song went off quite as much as “Bohemian Rhapsody” during the intermission; I definitely saw some spirit fingers in that moment.

Alison Wonderland and US duo RATATAT were given the responsibility of closing the festival proceedings.  RATATAT unleashed “Cream on Chrome” early and were definitely displaying ultimate guitar skills as a weird eight armed baby ran on screen in the background.  Wonderland went that extra step after playing through her usual setlist of faves, including her remix of Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean”, throwing out gems like Fatboy Slim’s“Praise You” right up until the speakers were cut.

While the night could have used a few extra punches, Groovin’ The Moo featured an excellent array of Aussie acts almost outshining the international musicians and packed out a day where just about everything went right, even when the weather tried really hard to be a downer.  With the major festival touring market suffering too many #rip headlines, it’s easy to see why Groovin’ The Moo is still such a priority on everyone’s calendar.



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