Saturday for me did not start off at the festival site, instead I attended a “bed in” at the Parmelia Hilton, and it was planned as a re-creation of the famous bed-in’s of John Lennon and Yoko Ono back in the 60s and 70s. The purpose however on this day was to commemorate the life and musical legacy of Lennon, who would have been seventy that day if he were still alive.
This event was one of multitudes taking place all over the world recognising Lennon’s contribution to popular music and culture in general. It was essentially a moderated forum, an extension of the ongoing conference, with some of the top speakers taking part. Unfortunately I can’t remember everyone’s name that took part, but the panel was made up of a number of respected journalists, representatives from EMI as well as event organiser Michael Chugg and all round music man Molly Meldrum. When people like Chugg and Meldrum talked about their connection with the work of The Beatles and Lennon there was a real sense of the past, with Meldrum painting some wonderfully vivid images of his time in the sixties and seventies. It’s nice to see that even after all this time the music of The Beatles and Lennon still has influence today. The “Bed In” was wrapped up by a rather stunning solo performance of Day in the Life by Jeff Martin on the guitar. It was a highly respectful cover, but at the same time he managed to make it his own – and really highlighted what a magnificent song that is.
One good thing about the One Movement festival is that everything is relatively close; I could take a somewhat casual stroll down to the actual site of the festival and not have to worry about having to dash across the city, or miss too much music.
One Movement is very much still in its infancy. Only in its second year, it is still in the process of letting everyone know what it’s about. Despite its critics and detractors it has managed in its second year not only to secure an incredibly strong and varied line up, but also to get people turning up. It was on a slightly smaller scale this year, there was one fewer stage, but that was perhaps for the best, last year at times it felt like there was too much going on and too much you couldn’t get to. But that’s not the case this year, indeed this year you could probably get to see at least five or ten minutes of every band playing if you wanted to – for the complete musical immersion experience.
My first artist of the day was Japanese guitar phenomenon Miyavi, an artist who has been heralded as one of Japan’s top guitarists. From his performance it is easy to see why; the sound he gets out of his guitar is unreal at times. Backed only by a drummer he played a great rocking set, which merged the urban and rock to some extent. There is no denying he is a great performer, he certainly looked very much at home on stage, and had quite the commanding presence. I was particularly a fan of the fact there was only two of them on stage, it was simple, there wasn’t too much going on and it created a great dynamic between the two which made for a great rock sound. One thing I will note is that he clearly has extremely dedicated fans, one having flown all the way from Adelaide just to see him play – and very excitable she was too.
Up next was a short 15 minute showcase of sorts presented by APRA featuring Australian musician Mama Kin and Raghu Dixit from India. It’s billed as a cross-cultural initiative and the set is the culmination of a week or so in the studio working on some songs together. Between them they managed to create a great fun sound, and as artists they really gelled well together, both musically and personally by the looks and sounds of things. With the mixing of languages and styles there was a nice folky rock sound, that was perfect for the warm afternoon sun. It also goes to show that it doesn’t matter what language we speak, we all sing about the same things, just in different places and different voices.
Next up was The Hungry Kids of Hungary, a band who I have heard so much about and much to my annoyance missed last year at the festival. Their set was an energetic and upbeat one, with a great pop sound that is very much reminiscent of Vampire Weekend, they managed to draw quite a sizeable crowd given their relatively early billing for the day. They mostly played songs from their recently released debut album Escapades, indeed their appearance at the festival forms part of their album tour. Despite the relative freshness of the music, many in the crowd seemed to be singing along quite happily knowing all if not most of the words. The band are one that are perfect for these kinds of festivals, they have a wonderful pop sound that inevitably gets everyone in the right kind of mood to have a good time, their sound coupled with the weather managed to create a great upbeat atmosphere.
I was wandering off in the opposite direction when I heard the opening riff of The Trews set; having seen them in an intimate setting just two nights previous, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to see them take on the big stage. They off course duly rocked the place and it was nice to see them on a larger stage and in front of a larger (and paying) crowd. They played a slightly different set to previously, but they kept much of it the same, playing what would undoubtedly be crowd favourites back in Canada. Real highlight of a great set was Poor Ol Broken Hearted Me, it’s a song that is full of great rock harmonies and few soulful moments – it’s in short a brilliant song. Indeed really every song in their set deserves place as a highlight, they seem to hit a high point once they kick off and never come down from there for the duration of the set. I imagine in a normal set there may be a slight dip, a few quieter songs, but in this festival setting it’s all rocking all the time.
Next, it was a short walk across to the big top for Georgia Fair a band who is slowly beginning to get noticed. They pulled a modest crowd, but one they were more than happy with, fearing they were going to be playing to no-one. They played a great set and were pretty confident up there on stage, if a little shy in the audience interaction stakes. Their sublime folk songs sounded great under the big top, unfortunately they had to compete with some obnoxiously loud drums that were permeating through from one of the other stages. The band were in duo mode, having left their drummer at home this time round, meaning that it was all rather guitar driven, which sounded great to me, a harkening back to those great singer-songwriters of the 60’s and 70’s. With only a small amount of the audience in the tent actively listening and getting into it, there was an atmosphere of fun fun fun, but nevertheless Georgia Fair managed to make the most of it, their exquisite songs perfect of the early evening time slot.
Next on my list of bands to see was Ben Kweller, I am never too sure which genre to place him in, is he countrified rock or rockified country. But anyway, he put on a confident and enthusiastic set and sounded great considering he was still getting over laryngitis. He played quite a varied set, which seems to be the way to go with festivals. Kweller always looks happy to be on stage, and his relentless enthusiasm and joyful persona at times seem at odds with the songs he writes, but at the same time it makes it incredibly difficult to dislike him. Toward the end of the set, he was joined on stage by lead singer from Delta Spirit Matthew Vasquez and Triple J’s The Doctor on guitar, at this point he handed over vocal duties to his player, for a song which he described jokingly as a classic of the American song book, one that only comes out on special occasions. Cue a brilliant yet ironic cover of Boyz II Men’s I’ll Make Love To You, which actually sounded pretty good.
Next up was Miami Horror showing that the synth seems to be back in vogue once again. They put on a good show, and seemed confident and assured up on stage, and they certainly managed to have quite a sizeable crowd behind them. I just felt slightly unmoved by them at the end, which is probably my fault, maybe if I was right in the middle of the crowd at the front I may have been caught up in it more, but otherwise I felt they were rather restrained and controlled perhaps too restrained. Saying that they were a pleasure to listen to, and they do have quite a fun sound – and seemed to be a perfect choice for that time slot. I think I need to hear more from them before I can completely pass any judgement on them. But they did the job of getting the crowd warmed up well.
Next it was the turn of British India who played a fantastic set. It was as intense and boisterous as I expected it to be. The crowd were really into it, with the band having drawn quite a sizeable crowd. It seemed like a lot of people were turning up just for the late afternoon and evening bands. They probably managed to entice the largest crowd for the day so far, and they were certainly one of the most enthusiastic bands of the day. I am not overly familiar with their latest album, but being a fan of their previous album, the two highlights of the set for me were God Is Dead and I Said I’m Sorry, the former being as amazing live as I expected it would be, whilst the latter just sounded great. The band were apparently at a loss at what to put in their set, surprisingly given the number of great tracks they have at their disposal, but this did lead to an awesome Beastie Boys cover, their version of Fight For Your Right, being full of great guitar work and enthusiasm, much better than expected.
It was back to the Big Top, this time for Delta Spirit, yes I had seen them the night before, but there was no way I was going to miss out on a chance to see this band again. Somehow they managed to top their performance from the night before; it was atmospheric and intense right from the start. It was the last night of their tour so maybe that had something to do with it, they certainly left nothing out on the stage. Other than playing their own songs, they also through in a pretty brilliant impromptu rendition of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here which sounded great. Around midway through the set they were also joined on stage by touring buddies Ben Kweller and some of his band, continuing in the traditions of the last show of the tour. They also dedicated a song to John Lennon, the first band to do so.
My last festival band of the day was Grinspoon. Now I know next to nothing about this band, I am pretty sure that I know none of their songs, in fact I couldn’t tell you any of the band’s name apart from Phil Jamieson. The only reason I was there was because I had seen Phil Jamieson on the White Album tour and was incredibly interested at seeing what he would be like in front of his own band, singing his own songs. They really are an incredibly well dressed band, they really did look the part of a successful rock band. Not only that they sounded the part too, they have a great rock sound that really seemed to get the crowd going, in fact it seemed like that at least three-quarters of the festival attendance was watching them play. Jamieson really is a natural frontman, he is at times the Australian equivalent of Mick Jagger, strutting swaggering and gyrating around the stage, he brings an added element of charm and rock swagger to the band. I started not knowing anything about the band, I left thinking I should probably go and find their greatest hits album at the local record store.