Festival Review: Groovin The Moo – Hay Park, Bunbury (11.05.13)

This year’s run of the Groovin’ the Moo festival came to a close at Bunbury’s Hay Park on Saturday. Though the festival has been running for a couple of years now, this was the first time I’d ventured along, drawn in part by an eclectic line-up of both Australian and international artists.

The festival was a sell out, though unlike other festivals I have been to this year, it didn’t feel cramped (unless you were front and centre in front of the stages), and the rotating play schedule on the dual main stage, ensured that you never had to wait long to see the next band, which was something of a relief when the temperature began to plummet later in the evening.

I always try to treat festivals as a chance to discover new bands and artists, Groovin’ the Moo was no different. I arrived just in time to catch The Love Junkies, a band I’ve been meaning to try and catch live for a while now. They didn’t disappoint kicking my festival day off with a great dose of guitar rock, drawing a sizeable crowd along the way.

Brisbane’s Last Dinosaurs also drew quite a large crowd early on. It was an enjoyable set, their wonderfully jangly sound providing the perfect accompaniment to the sun-kissed (albeit chilly) weather. The band’s announcement that it would be their last show in WA for a while did little to dampen the crowd’s spirits.

It was a great day for Australian artists at the festival, with Hungry Kids of Hungary and Alpine also drawing large crowds. Both bands putting on exciting and entertaining performances – seemingly pulling out all the stops for the final stop on the Groovin’ the Moo tour. Recent touring paid off for Alpine with the band sounding tight and confident on stage.

Matt & Kim drew what was probably the biggest crowd for the first half of the day. It was a raucous and energetic set, replete with confetti, balloons and a healthy dose of audience interaction. The band were always going to be on my must see list for the festival, and this set more than validated that decision. Closing number “Daybreak” was one of the set’s many highlights.

Scotland’s Frightened Rabbit were undeniably my favourite act of the day. I’ve long been a fan, so jumped at the chance to see them live once again. With a set-list that cherry picked from their whole back catalogue, with the bands newer material comfortably fitting alongside fan favourites like “Old Old Fashioned” and “Modern Leper”. Any fans in the crowd certainly wouldn’t have left disappointed.

Brooklyn’s They Might Be Giants, though maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, produced a thoroughly entertaining set, with some of the best crowd participation I’ve seen in a while, pitting the crowd against each other in a chant off. I’d not really heard of the band before the festival, so their set served as a welcome introduction.

Unsurprisingly Tame Impala drew a large crowd, kicking off their set with a superb rendition “Solitude is Bliss”. The band have honed and refined their live show since I last saw them; it was a slick and confident performance, with some greater audience interaction, though still with an element of artistic aloofness there, with the band preferring to get on and play – which is no bad thing considering the time constraints of a festival set.

I watched Tegan & Sara’s set from a distance. Despite not being all that familiar with the bands work, bar a few songs here and there, I found their set largely entertaining, with some great visuals projected onto the big screens to accompany the songs on offer. It was a well-balanced set, with a good mixture of songs and genres with the duo playing tracks from their latest album as well as previous albums.

The Kooks are becoming quite regular visitors to our shores, this their second visit to WA in two years. As a fan of their debut album when it was released, it was a sense of nostalgia that drew me to their set, with their earlier songs like “Seaside” and “She Moves In Her Own Way” amongst the sets highlights. That being said I found myself enjoying the band’s newer material, and Pritchard is certainly an engaging frontman.

The Temper Trap were, for me, a surprising choice for headliners, and whilst they were enjoyable to watch, it provided a somewhat low key end to the festival for me. Whilst the band certainly has a number of anthemic songs, with closer “Sweet Disposition” being just one of them, it felt at times that the band were padding out their set with extended instrumental breakdowns, which by the end were trying my patience somewhat.

Despite the slightly low-key ending I would definitely call the day a success. It was well organised, and a great introduction and reintroduction to some fantastic bands from both Australia and overseas. I’ll certainly be looking to come back next year (albeit with a warmer jumper).

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Simon Clark

Books Editor. An admirer of songs and reader of books. Simon has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. All errant apostrophes are his own.

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