By Deb Kloeden
Australia’s roving one-day music festival, Groovin The Moo, got off to an awesome start in Adelaide on Friday 27th April, as crowds flocked to the sold out event at Wayville Showgrounds. With a perfect, clear autumn sky, the day turned into one giant 12-hour party.
The festival has three main stages, one housed in a marquee called ‘Moolin Rouge’, and the other two set side by side called ‘Cattle Yard’ and ‘Triple J’. These two stages alternate all day, artists performing on one stage, while set-up occurs on the other. A large screen at the back of the inactive stage provides video of the adjoining stage’s action, so no matter where you stand here, you get a good view of the set. Moolin Rouge is positioned a short distance away, making it easy to move between all stages quite quickly. A fourth stage called ‘Hilltown’ houses DJ sets for those who just want to get down and dance.
I arrived early on Friday to catch MANE, a young Adelaide Indie Pop performer who scored one of the opening slots. She has a really catchy groove that is quite addictive. There is a real richness to her sound. Next was indigenous Australian hip-hop artist, BAKER BOY who raps in his native language. This is the second time I have seen him and he’s really impressed me both times. MALLRAT was completely different. She’s poppy, bright and fresh.
I’d been looking forward to seeing OCEAN ALLEY who combined a variety of different genres including psychedelic rock, reggae and electronica. Their music ranges from mellow grooves, to screaming guitar work. SKEGSS were fun with their raw sing-along style, punky one minute and poppy the next.
VERA BLUE has quickly become one to watch. Her haunting voice with incredible pitch is as captivating as her appearance. Her shows are real performances. She will also be playing at Sydney’s Vivid Festival at the end of May. Like several of the earlier artists, ALEX LAHEY is a Triple J Unearthed artist who is making the most of the break she has been given. She has a voice that makes you sit up and take notice. DEAN LEWIS is another artist I was really keen to see. He is rising up the charts very quickly, and being snapped up by festivals across the country. There is a Vance Joy quality to his music, a falsetto voice that makes you swoon and delicate, lilting guitar work.
Alaska’s psych-pop group, PORTUGAL THE MAN was up next. I was particularly interested in their presentation. Front man, John Baldwin Gourley, aka Portugal The Man, was dressed for a cold, windy day with a jacket and hood, despite the warm weather. Bright neon visuals dominated the rear screen and gave depth to the show. WINSTON SURFSHIRT are also enjoying an escalator ride to success. I first saw them perform as a support band to Rufus just over a year ago. Since then they have been on their own world tour and recently sold out their national Australian tour. Their hip-hop chill music is definitely addictive.
Again, in complete contrast, heavy hitters THE AMITY AFFLICTION came out with all guns blazing. Right from the start, plumes of fire shot from the stage and they had the crowd in a frenzy from the first thundering sound. The ever-popular GRINSPOON next took to the stage treating fans to old favourites like ‘Hard Act To Follow’, ‘No Reason’ and ‘Chemical Heart’. It was great to see them back in the limelight.
CONFIDENCE MAN was a complete head turner as the two front members of the band, male and female, quickly stripped their long coats to reveal neon glowing underwear, much in the style of Madonna. Their show oozed confidence, all set to their distinctive, disco-style beat. Aria Hall Of Famer, PAUL KELLY, charmed the crowd from the word go with his ever popular ‘From Little Things Big Friends Grow’. Playing with his band, including Linda & Vika Bull as support singers, Paul had the crowd singing along to every song. Seeing Paul Kelly perform again felt like catching up with a good old friend.
UK rock band, ROYAL BLOOD gave us a killer set. With Jack White vocals and Black Keys beat, they really got the crowd throbbing. Theatrically, FLIGHT FACILITIES set the stage like a flight control deck. Everything about their performance was mesmerising. Their disco/dance pop sound really got everyone dancing. Closing the 12 hour party we saw one of Australia’s favourites, BALL PARK MUSIC treat the crowd to all their favourite hits. With a deadpan, dry sense of humour, Ball Park Music seems to take the mickie out of all those awkward, coming of age moments. Highlights included ‘Sad Rude Future Dude’ and ‘Coming Down’.