GROOVIN THE MOO 2017 @ Hay Park gets 8.5/10

Groovin the Moo @ Hay Park, Bunbury
Saturday, May 13, 2017

8.5/10

The annual Groovin the Moo festival in Bunbury has gone from strength to strength in recent years and on Saturday May 13 it continued the trend with a stellar line-up featuring a host of international acts to compliment a weighty collection of festival favourites. Blessed with pleasantly mild and sunny weather thousands of punters converged on Hay Park early in the day to ensure they got their full ticket price worth of entertainment.

There were a number of drawcard acts in the opening hours of the event that set high standards for their performances and the crowds they attracted. Perth dream-pop maestros Methyl Ethel have been riding the buzz-wave in recent months following the release of their acclaimed second album Everything is Forgotten. High rotation hits like No. 28 and Ubu were warmly received as frontman Jake Webb’s lush falsetto cascaded over the chorus-laden hooks that have come to define their sound. Older favourite Twilight Driving had young love children mouthing “it’s the early morning baby, I said why don’t you hit the snooze” and Rogues also got the crowd bouncing in the peak of the midday sun.

L-Fresh the Lion

Hailing from Sydney, L Fresh the Lion also kicked the day off to a superb start with his political hip-hop vibes and had the tent jumping along with a guest performance by Perth local Ziggy.

Amy Shark

Speaking of buzz-artists, it felt like patrons were spoilt for choice when Methyl Ethel’s set overlapped with that of Amy Shark in the Moolin Rouge tent. Beginning with a vow to pack up her things and move to Bunbury, Amy Shark has enhanced her profile in the last couple of months releasing popular new single Weekends and her debut EP Night Thinker. One of the more noticeable and impressive things about Amy Shark is that she’s not young. She has a maturity that means her fairly recent breakout is a great feat in a pool of young up and comers. However, it was always going to be the 2016 hit Adore that still drew the biggest applause from the spellbound audience.

Back on the Triple J main stage, Allday was the first hip-hop artist off the ranks. You might consider the Adelaide/Melbourne/LA journeyman a rapper but in truth he is so much more. His distinctive voice is smooth enough to glide between slick rhyming and genuinely singing – sometimes bordering on soul and R&B but never sounding like he’s really trying too hard. His recent collaboration with Japanese Wallpaper In Motion shows a more chilled-out and dreamy direction for the artist, while 2014 hits Right Now and You Always Know the DJ were definite crowd favourites.

K-Flay

US genre-defying singer-songwriter K.Flay was up next on the Cattleyard main stage delivering an impassioned performance of hits like FML, It’s Strange and Telescope with her dark low-fi pop sound. While she had a drummer and spent a portion of the set behind the synthesiser, you couldn’t help but feel that the set was a little too dependent on backing tracks. It’s not so much a criticism of K.Flay but more one of those unfortunate realisations that some of the music produced in the studio simply isn’t practical to replicate live on stage – especially on the opposite end of the world.

Against Me!

Florida punk legends Against Me! kicked off just moments later as fans enjoyed the day’s first edition of loud rock and roll guitars. The sheer energy and enthusiasm of the group and especially from singer Laura Jane Grace was electrifying as they belted their way through tracks spanning their entire catalogue.

Meanwhile, back in the Mootown tent, Kinder was providing some nice tropical house and old school mix-ups for those really wanting to bust a move early on in the day. With a little bit of Superstylin’ and Is this Love, it was the right temperament for the sunny day.

Montaigne was just as lively – demanding attention from one and all as she expressed every ounce of her passion and talent through the microphone and the words PLEASE LIKE ME, adorning her cheeks. Her outstanding range lulled the crowd into states of submission before they broke into a roar of squeals and screams. The Sydney sensation moved and bounced across the stage delivering her heartfelt hits I’m a Fantastic Wreck and Because I Love You at full capacity before giving her love to the front row.

Architects

Back in the Moolin Rouge Tent, Architects were happily living up to their mantle as the “heaviest band on the line-up”. From the second they stepped on stage, the eager crowd felt the full brute force of their music. The UK hardcore quintet delivered a bone-crushing set complete with circle-pits, crowd-surfing and over-zealous punters being snatched by the security guards over the barricades and escorted to get some fresh air outside.

The Smith Street Band bought a genuine warmth and all round good vibes to the Triple J stage. Frontman Will Wagner made a special shout-out to Against Me!, thanking them for getting him into music in the first place. Suburban sing-alongs Young Drunk and Death to the Lads prompted strangers to put their arms around each other’s shoulders and belt out the irresistible choruses.

Tash Sultana followed up with another exceptional live performance that is quickly becoming the stuff of legend. The “one woman band” demonstrated her exceptional talents looping entire guitar arrangements together to form a sweeping soundscape bound by her soaring vocals just as the sun began to set. Sultana clearly enjoys the freedom that live composition allows, building tracks like Jungle and Notion piece-by-piece in a way that is never exactly the same twice.

Across the field, Perth-turned-international producers Slumberjack had amassed a crowd even bigger than Sultana’s. With an aesthetically pleasing clean set up the boys combined live aspects of the keyboard and drum pads with their monochromatic and fairly impressive visuals. As they alluded to in their interview, every note hit and every transition was perfectly executed and timed to their visuals as they ran through hits Felon, Open Fire and Fracture before introducing K. Flay to the stage to perform their Like a Version cover of M.I.A.’s Paper Planes.

The Jungle Giants and Milky Chance brought the groove back to the main stage while over in the Moolin Rouge Thundamentals were starting a party of their own. The group were tirelessly praising the other artists they had the privilege of touring with for GTM, as well as audiences, stage crew and everyone else involved. Montaigne and L-Fresh the Lion joined the group onstage as they performed some of their biggest hits including Think About It. It was a glorious, conscientious dance party that was certainly one of the surprise highlights of the festival.

Pnau

PNAU were getting the party well underway on the Cattleyard stage as the night set in. Early hits Embrace, Baby and Wild Strawberries seemed to have lost none of their charm but recent single Chameleon drew the most fanfare from what was largely a youthful audience.

A true wildcard for the evening saw Perth duo Command Q packing some real heat out in the Mootown tent. Their tireless touring has seen them rack-up a (more than) decent local following with front row fans sporting their own merch. Kicking off their set with some high energy, new release Choo Choo was a clear indicator for the rest of the set. Ending on a deserved high, singer and frontman Shaun Offbeat launched his topless body into a sea of welcoming hands to the sound of their Duck Flute X Core X Wild for the Night remix.

The Darkness were probably the most ‘curveball’ addition to the Groovin the Moo line-up. The hard-rocking British outfit might not have had many hits since their 2003 debut Permission to Land but the irresistible charm of those early songs were more than enough to draw a passionate crowd to the front as frontman Justin Hawkins wailed through epic solo-laden masterpieces like Black Shuck and Love is Only a Feeling. Wearing a blue jumpsuit and prancing about like a peacock on heat, Hawkins riled up the crowd claiming they were “the best audience since Canberra,” riffing his Les Paul behind his back like a contortionist and obnoxiously encouraging the masses to echo his ridiculous vocal staccatos back to him. I Believe in a Thing Called Love was always going to be a highlight, but the gloriously bombastic closer Love on the Rocks with No Ice took things to heights that no other act was close to reaching on the day.

The Wombats

By the time The Wombats hit the Triple J stage the crowds were at fever pitch. Hits like Your Body is a Weapon and Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves) had everyone dancing and singing along. Seeing so many of their songs consecutively reminded you of just how many of their melodies have managed to burrow into your psyche over the past decade. Techno Fan and Greek Tragedy were difficult to resist while Let’s Dance to Joy Division capped it all off swimmingly.

The last bit of electronic music for the night saw Dillon Francis step in and take it up a notch or two in the Moolin Rouge tent. He may be obnoxious and loud but the guy sure knows how to put on a show. He’s unapologetically a DJ and not tempted to transform or follow the trends that trap/ house/ moombahton are taking on. He pulled out his range of hits from Get Low, to Anywhere, to Coming Over. It wasn’t too heavy and it wasn’t too poppy, but it was palatable as hell and really brought everything up and out to a happy high and perfect finish.

Violent Soho

There really couldn’t have been a better climax to GTM 2017 than Violent Soho. The Brisbane rockers left nothing in the tank for the last performance of the tour belting out Triple J favourites Like Soda and Viceroy to an endearing and intoxicated audience. While you might not have thought it could have gotten any more grunge than Covered in Chrome, the group proceeded to demolish the stage trashing the drum-kit to pieces and sending a Marshall cab on its on crowd-surfing journey over the sweaty hands of an ecstatic crowd.

Violent Soho

Groovin the Moo was bigger and better than expected in 2017. Although many of the acts were predictable Triple J mainstays each of these artists performed exceptionally well and made the festival a rewarding experience for those attending. The addition of some more obscure international acts such as Architects, The Darkness and Against Me! drew in an audience that might not have been typical attendees for such an event while buzz bands Methyl Ethel, Amy Shark and Command Q provided a great opportunity for people to catch some of Australia’s hottest emerging talent in the one place making it a rewarding experience for all.

MIA CAMPBELL-FOULKES & BRAYDEN EDWARDS

 

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