Festival Review: Southbound Festival, Day 3 – Sir Stewart Bovell Park, Busselton (03.01.11)

So the third and final day, where the festival site begins to resemble the aftermath of a battle, with punters lying around in the shade doing their best to recover before another days worth of music. The majority of the crowd it seemed went to the Rock Stage to see Pond, but I decided that I would like to have a day where I didn’t get completely dehydrated within the first hour, opted for the shaded Paper Stage and watched local band The Scotch of Saint James who put on a great set to a small crowd. They have this great guitar driven sound, with fantastic vocals which give the songs this great atmospheric quality – and great songs they are too. The crowd certainly seemed to be into it, though slightly subdued due to both the earliness of the set and Day 3 tiredness. But all in all it was a great way to start the day.

Up next was the fantastic Dan Kelly’s Dream Bandwho surely has to win the prize for best dressed band of the festival, with Dan Kelly bringing out his inner Bing Crosby and the rest of the band dressed in all manner of costumed garb. With some many bands happy to simply just put out a record of songs, it’s nice to see someone like Dan Kelly put so much effort into creating this whole other universe and future. And if this set is something to go by there is perhaps no end to the imagination of Dan Kelly. It was really a fantastic set, opening with “Summertime Blues” and then spiralling into the world of Dan Kelly’s dream; where each song is introduced with a wonderfully intricate and fascinating story nearly as long as the song it’s introducing. This is probably my festival highlight and indeed my festival find as well, having not really heard much of his material in the past, bar a few passing references in magazines and from other musicians. Top notch and long may Dan Kelly’s dream continue.

Next on my viewing schedule was Sydney band Jonathan Boulet. I say band because for a while I thought it was just one guy, turns out there’s a whole heap of them to fit on stage. They were fairly energetic and boisterous, getting the crowd worked up; and then cooling them down by chucking water at them. There was a fair bit of onstage banter between the band and the crowd, with the lead singer being a bit of a joker. But other than it was just a case of playing the best set they possibly good. Each song got a great reaction from the crowd, but none better than “A Community Service Announcement” which really saw the crowd go wild. The band freely admitted on stage that they don’t play WA all that much, here’s hoping that that changes for the better.

With a break in bands I desperately wanted to see, it was time just to wander around and find something awesome going on. Thankfully I found it pretty quickly, on the Paper Stage Sampology was just about to take to the stage. Now I don’t normally go into DJ sets, I generally get incredibly bored by them, there’s only so much head nodding and headphone fiddling I can deal with, but this was different. Sampology is an AVDJ, an Audio Visual DJ, which basically means he does everything, both the music and the visuals, which all adds up to a pretty interesting live experience. With complete control other both the sound and the visuals at any moment you could have the Hoff on screen or something from the Mighty Boosh playing. Top notch!

About halfway through the set I decided to head off again in search of other new and interesting delights, and stumbled across The Chevelles a garage rock band, who have recently been signed to Little Steven’s Wicked Cool label and frequently featured on his Underground Garage radio show. Having been around for over 18 years they were not short of confidence and from what I saw put on a great show, they drew a smallish crowd, but still rocked it, with some great guitar work and some fantastic songs.

I along with quite a few other people it seemed then headed over to the Rock Stage for Sleigh Bells. Now I have to admit I wasn’t too sure what to expect, I had heard some of their recorded material in passing, but that didn’t really prepare me all that much for their live performance which was really a brilliant high octane energetic sort of affair. The crowd certainly seemed to enjoy it and were definitely feeding off singer Krauss’ energy. It was all in all a great entertaining and energetic set which at times hit the surreal side, with the audience passing around a giant inflatable shark and Krauss talking about drop bears.

In a remarkable shift in vibe and sound next onto the same stage was Paul Kelly, I’m not too sure you could have got an artist more different to follow on from Sleigh Bells really. I was pleasantly surprised by the size and the demographic of the audience the elder Kelly drew though, with a quite a few of the audience being at the younger end of the age scale. He opened with “From Little Things”, with some great crowd sing-along moments, right into a rocky and awesome “Dumb Things”. Now with my two favourite Paul Kelly songs played, he could do whatever he liked from there on and I wouldn’t have minded. It was however a great and varied set, with Kelly on more than one occasion handing over vocal duties to one of his female vocalists who had this wonderfully soulful voice which was perfect for the songs she was given to sing. A great set from an Australian music legend.

Up next was Perth band and now international favourites, Tame Impala, and having managed to get right to the front I was not budging. It was on the whole a fantastic set; a nice psychedelic jam to start to bring the Monday night to a close. Occasionally the vocals were lost in the mix a little, but other than that the bands sounded brilliant and were incredibly tight. Not satisfied with just playing great music, they had to have great visuals too, with the lead guitar affecting the laser visuals; all of which added to the psychedelic feel of the set. There wasn’t a huge amount of audience interaction beyond chucking the odd Frisbee into the crowd, but what they lacked in interaction they made up for in performing, with the crowd loving the favourites off the record. Here’s hoping we get to see the band back on home turf more often.

It was down to the Klaxons to close out the Rock Stage and ultimately close out my Southbound experience for this year. And they did a brilliant job at both. I wasn’t too aware of their music, I had heard their latest album and liked it, but never gotten round to getting their earlier material, so wasn’t entirely sure what to expect on all counts, but I loved it – as did the vast majority of the crowd, if their reactions to each and every song was to go by. Their live show has swayed me, I think I may now be a Klaxons convert, they are full of energy and just seem to completely enjoy being up on stage playing in front a crowd. It was nice to hear the keys come through every now and then to break up the guitars dominance, and the harmonising was fantastic and a real highlight of their sound for me. “Golden Skans” was fantastic live, and was one of the highlights for me. The Klaxons were also fantastic headliners, both in the sense that they put on a great set, but they were also very much aware of the bands that came before them, calling on the crowd to acknowledge the great bands that had played over the weekend.

The main stages all finished around about 10 on the Monday night, so as you can expect with little to occupy them, many of the campers got a little feral and their activities are now new myths of Southbound. There are many stories about what happened that night, who knows what to believe, though what is true, A-Trak coaxed down a man from the top of the tent with Ice-cream.

Another year other, another festival over, here’s to a few more!


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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.