Groovin’ the Moo Townsville, 2014

Groovin’ The Moo is a long-running rural festival presented by the appropriately named Cattleyard Promotions and supported by Triple J. It is currently the only touring regional festival in Australia and is held in the towns of Oakbank, SA; Maitland, NSW; Canberra, ACT; Bendigo, VIC; Townsville, QLD; and Bunbury, WA.

I have wanted to attend GTM ever since 2011, but the necessity to travel to attend made this impossible until this year, since I now live in Townsville during the university semester. This year’s festival took place on May 4, 2014 (Star Wars day!) and included headlining acts Disclosure, The Presets, Dizzee Rascal, Peking Duk, Thundamentals, The Naked And Famous and many, many more amazing acts. Prior to attending GTM, my only festival experience was with River Sessions Mackay (I reviewed 2014’s River Sessions festival here), so I was amazed at the quality of the lineup and the sheer size of the festival itself.

Flower Crown: Cosmetics Plus, $8. Pinafore: Target, $29.99. T-Shirt: Jay Jays, $2.50. Shoes: Big W, $9.95. Necklace: Goldmark Jewellers, Price Unknown

My GTM experience was mixed – I thoroughly enjoyed the artists that were playing and the atmosphere of the event, however I was lacking the company of my boyfriend, who usually accompanies me to festivals. Since we live hundreds of kilometres apart, he would have had to travel and take time off university to attend 😦 I would still rank this festival the best that I have ever attended, despite this!

11:50 – 12:00 pm: Tommy Franklin

Tommy Franklin was an odd addition to the GTM lineup, known for his crazy, eccentric dance moves and making it to the grand final on Australia’s Got Talent 2013 (although I think his audition dance was by far the best). We attended his set with some hesitation but a lot of curiosity. He opened his set with a slow, inspirational song and encouraged the crowd to loosen up and start dancing, which we did hesitantly. We then had to leave to catch The Jungle Giants’ set, but I’m sure that the energy would have lifted significantly as he danced in his carefree, unique manner. This wasn’t the last we’d see of Tommy, though, as he made constant guest appearances throughout other artists’ sets!

12:00 – 12:45 pm: The Jungle Giants

As it was still early in the day, we were not in much of a mood to enter the mosh pit, so we stood at the back. A decent crowd had gathered for this Brisbane band, and they had such a happy, upbeat sound that matched the mood of everyone there. I thoroughly enjoy The Jungle Giants, and I regard them in my top five favourite artists, although my friend Hayden, who attended with me, did not know as many of their songs as I did. I still thoroughly enjoyed their set – they always have the ability to make me very happy, even though I was not dancing to their set like most of the crowd was. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to see these guys live!

1:00 – 1:50 1:10 pm: Allday

To be completely honest, we were only at Allday’s set because we had time to kill and his stage was in the shade with space to sit. Inevitably, though, as I discussed in my River Sessions 2014 review, Allday’s fans are crazy and it all became too much. We left after his second song (Claude Monet, also his second song at River Sessions), although at this stage I would have liked to see more of him, which is why I saw him again at River Sessions.

1:30 – 2:15 pm: Robert DeLong

Without a doubt the best performance of the entire festival. I went into this set only knowing one song – Global Concepts. His set began and I was outstanded at how young and energetic he looked, proudly sporting blue Aztec-style face paint on his left cheek. He had such a large variety of equipment set up, including multiple keyboards, a full drum kit and other drums and cymbals across the stage. His set was upbeat and his lyrics were well-thought out – they were much deeper and more complex than conventional artists’ lyrics. He opened up his set by actually layering his vocals and instrumentals to create the full sound! I have never seen an electronic artist, live or on YouTube, create the music right in front of the audience’s eyes. Robert certainly did not just “press a button and dance” as most electronic artists seem to do – he used a wide variety of obscure methods to create his infectious sound, including a Wii remote, a MIDI fighter and a gaming controller resembling an Xbox controller. By far the best video that I can find that showcases how Robert performs is this one:

Robert’s set remained the only one to get me jumping and dancing along despite knowing only one song. He performed every song flawlessly, and he put obvious effort and energy into putting on a show! Of course, he closed with Global Concepts (yay!) but the biggest surprise came when Tommy Franklin joined him on stage to dance to the song’s catchy dance hook, dressed in a fluoro pink polka dot onesie. Go see a Robert DeLong show. You will not regret it!

I had the pleasure of meeting Robert at his signing during Vance Joy’s set. He was such a charismatic, cheerful man – I just wish I could talk to him for longer since security were rushing everyone along!

3:00 – 3:45 pm: Vance Joy

As previously mentioned, I was meeting Robert DeLong during Vance’s set. Luckily, the signing tent was right near the stage, which allowed me to at least listen to his set even though it was difficult to see him. I personally find Vance’s music a bit repetitive – yes, Riptide was a huge hit, but his other songs all sound the same. Nevertheless, though, he pulled a huge crowd of adoring fangirls and this later showed at his signing, where a huge crowd of girls were lined up just to meet him. Robert’s signing finished just before Riptide, which had the whole crowd singing and swaying along to the chilled-out tune, before the entire crowd left to reveal a prime barrier position for the next act on that stage – Architecture in Helsinki – which we claimed.

3:45 – 4:35 pm: Cults

While I was waiting at the barrier, Cults’ set was playing on the big screen from the next stage over. I wasn’t paying much attention as the video quality was low but they had a nice vibe and the lead vocalist has a voice with such an amazing tone!

4:35 – 5:25 pm: Architecture in Helsinki

These guys are the happiest, brightest, funky band ever. Not only did they look like they’d raided The Wiggles’ closet with their bright colours, they had such a great energy! I’m so glad that I was on the barrier for this show, as the keyboardist we were positioned in front of was constantly dancing – probably the most out of the entire band! I did video most of their set, but my camera doesn’t pick up any sound at such a high volume level 😦 They played all of their big hits plus songs from their most recent album, dedicating songs to hilarious things – for example, Escapee was opened with: “This song is for the people that take acid on Castle Hill (a huge hill in the middle of the city), because I feel like that’s something that people would do.” Once again, dancing man Tommy Franklin joined the band on stage during their set, dancing with band members and adding to the overall happiness of the set. These guys were my second favourite act of the day, despite the sun in my eyes the entire time!

5:25 – 6:00 pm: The Kite String Tangle

I’d never heard of this guy before and didn’t know what to expect, but his songs are pretty cool and gave the giant tent his stage was situated in a great atmosphere. I was standing pretty far away and the lighting from my angle wasn’t the best, but I still enjoyed it. I was getting a bit tired by this stage, so I was half tuned out to this set and can’t remember the details, but I didn’t mind watching TKST one bit!

6:15 – 7:05 pm: The Naked and Famous

This was the one band I needed to see at GTM, although they clashed with signing times for The Presets 😦 I was once again able to watch them from the signing line, however I would have given anything to be in their massive audience in the mood of their chilled, surreal music! They involved the crowd in a massive chant of “like rolling waves” for their song “In Rolling Waves”, which sounded absolutely beautiful even from the distance I was at! The Naked and Famous have so many great, popular songs, my biggest GTM regret was choosing meeting The Presets over catching their full set.

7:05 – 7:45 pm: Wave Racer

By this time I was so tired. The audience was filled with hot, sweaty people – yuck. This act was more a time filler, one that I only attended because of friends who wanted to see them. Safe to say that although the tent offered warmth (an unusual cold snap coincidentally began that night), the sweat and craziness was not worth it.

7:55 – 9:00 pm: Dizzee Rascal

Once again, very tired. We were sitting eating dinner on the grass during Dizzee’s set, waiting for The Presets, so we didn’t join the mosh. Granted, it was freezing! Dizzee is not my style, at all, but I enjoyed the songs I did know (which were few). The entire crowd seemed to love it, though – I’ll give him that!

9:00 – 10:15 pm: The Presets

Finally, the act we’d been waiting to see since the sun went down! As I mentioned previously, I met The Presets during The Naked and Famous’ set 😀 They were nice enough guys, could’ve been nicer but it seemed like they’d had dramas getting to the venue on time so that’s to be expected!

Unfortunately, due to timetabling, Disclosure stole what would’ve been most of The Presets’ crowd so it was way too small! Nevertheless, we squeezed into the fourth row. By this time, I was 3/4 deaf and this set solidified that. Their stage setup was ah-mazing – illuminated hexagons surrounded the DJ sets of both boys, including an impressive hexagon tower that lit up with the music behind them. They had such a good energy, getting the crowd pumped up despite the cold but still calm enough so people like me who hate physical contact with strangers could still enjoy the set – the crowd did not cram themselves in but rather stood at a comfortable distance from everyone else, allowing for a pleasant set. Their set lacked personality, as they would essentially move from song to song, but each song was performed so well that I didn’t mind it. By the time the set ended, the crowd had dwindled to what I’d guess would be less than 50 people – a disappointing number for such a big act.

10:15 – 10:45 10:30 pm: Disclosure

After The Presets finished, we decided to see what all the fuss was about with Disclosure, seeing as they stole The Presets’ crowd. The small portion we saw was good, with catchy songs and an impressive light show! The crowd was huge and they were visibly pumped up for the show, but for us it was cold and we’d had a long day, so we missed the end of the set so as not to get stuck in a huge line for the bus back to uni, which was inevitable once Disclosure finished.

Summary:

Groovin’ the Moo is certainly one of the best festivals I have ever attended – the venue was great and the absolutely massive crowd size was astounding! The weather was perfect for this festival, with the exception of an unusual cold snap which left everyone freezing once the sun went down. Timetabling for this event was excellent and I commend the stage setup on the main stage, where two stages stood side-by-side with one artist on stage A while the next set up on stage B etc. It really reduced waiting time between acts and made it much easier to claim a barrier spot! The lineup itself was great and included such a great mix of genres and degree of popularity, with the addition of some international acts on top of that.

Go like Groovin’ the Moo on Facebook and keep up to date with 2015’s festival, which is sure to be even bigger and better!
Sarah May xx

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River Sessions Festival, 2014

River Sessions is an annual festival held in the small town of Mackay, Queensland, since 2008. Presented by 4eva Young and supported by Triple J, this festival showcases a variety of Australian artists from differing genres. I have had the pleasure of attending River Sessions every year since 2012 and this year’s festival certainly did not disappoint. 2014’s lineup featured headliners The Amity Affliction, RUFUS, Illy, Megan Washington and Art vs Science, and also included Dan Sultan, Sticky Fingers, Allday, Papa vs Pretty, Hayden James, SAFIA plus many more. Local artists also played on a separate stage for the first time, showcasing the talent of the Mackay region. Despite being held in the middle of winter, River Sessions is a chance for central Queenslanders to show off their festival fashion. My outfit choice for the day was significantly less extreme than 90% of the teenage girls attending the festival, but was as follows: River Sessions 2014: Outfit

Shirt: TEMT, $29.95. Shorts: Hand-me-downs. Shoes: Big W, $9.95

I found the timetable of this year’s festival to be very poorly planned, placing artists of similar style and genre at the same time resulting in myself and my boyfriend running between stages or skipping artists entirely. Regardless of these clashes, I managed to see Papa vs Pretty, Sticky Fingers, SAFIA, Allday, Dan Sultan, Megan Washington, Art vs Science, Hayden James and RUFUS before leaving the festival two hours prior to it finishing as we weren’t huge fans of Illy or The Amity Affliction. Comparing my festival experience to previous years, it wasn’t my favourite festival experience but I still thoroughly enjoyed the day!

12:25 – 1:05 pm: Papa vs Pretty

This was a band that I had not previously listened to, however my boyfriend was into them so we ended up on the barrier for them. I thoroughly enjoyed their set – they had a cool indie pop vibe (which I’m super into) and seemed like pretty cool guys. The crowd that gathered was pretty small, as they were only the second artist to play the festival, which was sad. Two days later, Papa vs Pretty decided to call it quits as a band, with River Sessions Festival being their last ever show. Such a shame to see such a good band break up 😦 Papa vs Pretty were certainly contenders for my favourite artist of the day!

Papa vs Pretty

1:25 – 2:05pm: Sticky Fingers

After standing in the midday sun for an hour at Papa vs Pretty, we dropped to the back of the crowd for Sticky Fingers’ set while we applied sunscreen. The band were not outstanding live, despite every member looking like they came straight from the 80’s. Yet again, I had not heard much from Sticky Fingers prior to the festival with the exception of Caress Your Soul – a song that was voted #61 on Triple J’s Hottest 100 songs of 2012. Sticky Fingers were certainly not a festival highlight for me and were rather a time filler before our next artist.

Sticky Fingers

3:15 – 4:00 pm: SAFIA

After a very long wait due to technical difficulties, I was surprised at how young the boys from SAFIA looked considering their success in securing supporting act for Lorde on her Australian tour. Their set was fun and had the crowd dancing – however, since rapper Allday was playing after them, the crowd was mostly fans of him which resulted in them chanting “Allday” in the middle of SAFIA’s set. This really ruined the mood for me as I realized that most of the crowd actually wanted SAFIA off the stage. They closed their set with their Hottest 100 of 2013 hit “Listen to Soul, Listen to Blues” (or, as I hear it: “I Listen to Sorbet” – seriously!), which I found to be a great choice.

SAFIA

4:15 – 5:00 4:20pm: Allday

After SAFIA finished, Allday’s crazy fans began to pile into the small area where the 4eva Young stage was. We retreated to the back of the area to watch from a distance. I wanted to see Allday purely because of the hype around him, having missed seeing him at Groovin’ The Moo 2014. Once he started, though, it was clear that the hype was for no good reason. His opening song was terrible and barely audible above the adoring screams of his teenage fans, which he quickly followed with his Hottest 100 of 2013 hit “Claude Monet”. Usually, I would be against an artist playing their biggest hit so early in the set – however, this allowed us to leave his set early and still catch a good song of his. As soon as Claude Monet concluded, we were out of that crazy pit and off to the other stage. The police surrounding the crowd during Allday told us that it was not going to be a calm and enjoyable set.

Allday

4:30 – 5:15 pm: Dan Sultan

Having watched Dan’s live set from Triple J’s One Night Stand on TV one night, I did not have him on the top of my to-see list at this festival. Aside from Under Your Skin, I found his songs average. However, he was certainly a welcome break from Allday and provided ample opportunity to sit in the shade of the setting sun and chill out for a while. Dan also played his big hit early in the set, but I still found his remaining songs somewhat enjoyable. Dan Sultan is certainly an artist that is more enjoyable live in the right atmosphere than through a television screen.

Dan Sultan

5:35 – 6:20 pm: Megan Washington

I’m not really sure how I can describe Megan Washington’s performance in words. After Dan Sultan ended, we seized the first barrier position we could see and secured our front row spot for the next few hours, and I do not regret it one bit. Megan was perfect, mixing old hits with new, unreleased songs whilst simultaneously giving the audience an insight into her personal life and the background behind the songs. She sung with passion and the beautiful tone of her voice held its ground against the loud instrumental arrangements that can overpower other artists. Megan was quirky, consistently dancing energetically, in addition to embarrassingly missing a kick aimed at a beach ball thrown onto the stage – twice. My only downside to Megan’s performance was the absence of my personal favourite of hers – “Holy Moses”. All in all, Megan Washington easily secured the title of my second favourite performance of the festival.

Megan Washington

6:40 – 7:25 7:40 pm: Art vs Science

Man, oh man. I am so glad that this set went overtime. We kept our barrier spot (albeit with slightly less standing room) following Megan Washington to be front row for Art vs Science. One thing I initially noticed about these boys that set them apart from the other artists I saw during the festival is that they set up their own stuff instead of a tech team – a giant yes! Even while setting up, Dan Mac and Jim kept the audience entertained with quirky warm up exercises whilst testing the equipment. The boys’ entire set was electric and very, very loud and kept the audience dancing the entire time. They were always dancing behind their keyboards and showed such a large amount of passion for their work. I was situated directly in front of Dan Mac, who showed such enthusiasm for their older stuff in addition to their newer stuff. Art vs Science played their big hits “Magic Fountain”, “A.I.M Fire” and “Parlez vous Francais” as well as some of their lesser known and newer stuff such as “Create / Destroy”. During Parlez vous Francais, the boys detoured to an impressive guitar solo in the middle of the song, which left Dan Mac standing on speakers on the sides and center of the stage as he jumped around, while Jim continued dancing energetically behind his keyboard. After a few minutes of guitar and general deviation from the original song, the boys stopped and asked the crowd if they wanted them to actually finish the song. At the conclusion of their brilliant set, Jim jumped into the crowd (too far to his side of the stage for me to get close to) and Dan Mac stood directly in front of us but did not jump in, as the security in front of the barrier were already having problems pulling Jim away. Art vs Science were without a doubt my favourite performance of the festival and the energy and happiness that their set gave me remained for the next artist of the night.

Art vs Science

7:15 7:40 – 8:00 pm: Hayden James

Although Art vs Science’s set was longer than expected, we escaped our barrier spot (which was a difficult task due to popular headliner RUFUS being next on stage) and ran to the opposite stage to catch the last 20 minutes of Hayden James’ set. He played some pretty cool remixes of songs I knew and, despite the small crowd, had everyone dancing. He closed his set with “Permission to Love”, a song we both loved, and we made our way back to the main stage to catch the remainder of RUFUS.

Hayden James

7:45 8:00 – 8:45 pm: RUFUS

RUFUS was our final act of the night, and by this time we had lost all our energy. We had not eaten since 1pm by this point, so instead of joining the crowd, we sat at the back to organize dinner and rest our legs. I enjoy RUFUS’ music, however I don’t see it as amazing. They have some great hits, a number of them making the Hottest 100 of 2013. Towards the last ten minutes of their set, we joined the crowd for one final dance to their song “Desert Night”. Overall, I find that most of RUFUS’ songs sound very similar, but I’m sure that if I’d stayed at the barrier I would have been caught up in the vibe that the rest of the crowd seemed to be enjoying.

RUFUS

Summary

Although the lineup of 2014’s River Sessions Festival was below its usual standard, I still enjoyed the entire day. This year’s festival was more spacious than the last due to a lack of a separate 18+ area and there was enough grass to sit on comfortably (as opposed to last year’s festival, where we had to sit on dirt). The weather was brilliant, offering a warm day despite the festival being held in winter. Art vs Science were the act that stood out to me, followed by Megan Washington, Hayden James and Papa vs Pretty. River Sessions will certainly be a festival that I will continue to attend on a yearly basis!

Thanks for reading, I highly encourage anyone in the central Queensland region to attend this festival in 2015! Sarah May xx