Groovin The Moo 2016
Review: Matt Doria – University Of Canberra, Canberra 24/04/2016
Photos: Billy Zammit – Maitland Showgrounds, Maitland 23/04/2016
Fuck. It’s 3pm on a Monday arvo and I just woke up. It sounds like there’s a mosquito orgy going down inside my head, and as painful as that mental image may be, it’s nothing compared to the firework sting-ripple that just pulsated through my entire body as I lifted my neck (or, well, attempted to) to check my phone. Does it make me a terrible human if the first thing that just came to mind was “thank fuck it’s ANZAC Day?” Probably. But hear me out, for I have fallen victim to… The Moo.
And it was totally worth it. Let’s rewind.
Such is the beauty of the Southern countryside (and Jake Taylor fucking shit up on Skydancer) that a three-hour commute feels like a trip around the block. The sun is out, the hipsters are chirping, and somewhere, someone just bought a pair of servo-grade speed dealers for $25. Ah, festivals! It’s a quiet scene as vendors pop their awnings out and security pace to their respective stages – this certainly isn’t a Soundwave, where fans would’ve lined up since 3am donning Pikachu onesies and histrionic bangs. Instead, we have diamond eyebrows and shirtless-ness. Schedule set and sunburn imminent, it’s time to binge on some tunes!
The breakfast set comes courtesy of Sydney power-rockers Polish Club – if summer action blockbusters were a thing in the ’50s, this is snare crash for snare crash what the soundtrack would consist of. The duo deal in fast, fuzzy soul punk, bursting with energy in protest of morning sets. Despite equipped with only six pieces, drummer John-Henry powers through rolls and solos aplenty, Novak by his side hitting every gravelly, pseudo-Motown-esque hook without a beat to be skipped. Their self-titled debut EP pillars the set, last year’s single “Beeping” especially standing out as three minutes of stark howling fortitude.
No more than ten seconds after Polish Club bid us adieu, the Channel [V] stage is up in flames with the stoney vibes of Hockey Dad. It should come as no surprise that the two-piece actually hail from a beach town; if their acid-wash pop jams don’t make you feel like you’ve just smashed three cones in quick succession, staring into the bleach-blonde locks thrashing over Billy Fleming’s (drums) face will. New single “So Tired” highlights the 20-minute showcase, its title ironic as punters absolutely lose their shit.
Booming basslines and fizzy guitar solos barrel through the grounds as future Melbourne funk icon Harts saunters onstage. Like a reborn Hendrix does he ravage an axe, tearing through a half-hour set without once stopping to catch his breath. Vocals are fierce, bluesy and doused in passion, but it’s the carefree jam sections that truly drop jaws and leave onlookers brainwashed in the haze of his boyish charm. Hottest 100 cut “Red And Blue” and recent drop “Peculiar” feel at home in the scorching heat, with a Prince tribute to wrap it all up feeling nothing short of authentic.
It’s 1pm, and by this point, festival atmosphere is well imbued in every smile-plastered flower child. There’s a small army of Red Frogs volunteers handing out lollies and dishing much-needed sunscreen, while the Headspace crew are making sure that those munting their way throughout the day are properly hydrated. Modern day saints and saviours.
As hunger starts to overthrow me, the focus turns toward Mr. Papa, a lowly food truck waxing eloquent of a crusty bun filled with Peruvian pulled pork, sarza criolla and golden sweet potatoes. Fucking get in my belly already. $13 is steep, but accompanied by the experimental pop musings of Sydney up-and-comers Boo Seeka, it’s worth every cent. Equally as unforgettable as the burger are the duo themselves, vibing on swervy, moody electro beats strung in an ethereal melancholia. “Deception Bay” hums out of the speakers, and just like that, the afternoon has settled in.
Up next are Brisbane dance-punks DZ Deathrays. Equal parts lively and riddled in scuzz, the collective (a duo, but rounded out live with a second guitarist) pin themselves arguably as the definitive festival band. They’re loud, unrestrained, and give not a single fuck about the kid up front holding out for whatever DJ set follows. A pirate flag waves mighty in the crowd as vocalist Shane Parsons pours every ounce of ardour into the mic, chugging away on scratchy pop hooks while drummer Simon Ridley makes the mainstage crumble. Cuts from Black Rat (2014) and new banger “Blood On My Leather” go down a treat, but slicked with an extra hit of reverb, it’s hard not to single out their cover of Blur’s “Song 2”.
Over in the Moolin Rouge tent (which is my favourite area, because pun), Melbourne crew British India are knocking out round after round of vibe-heavy alt-rock bangers. They’re the musical equivalent of a Krispy Kreme doughnut: mostly simple and a little predictable, but oh, how they’ll blow your fucking mind. The breezy “Plastic Souvenirs” is an easy calling point with the laid-back atmosphere buzzing in the showgrounds – an aura they voluntarily overturn with a crunchy rock ‘n’ roll cover of Rage Against The Machine’s classic “Killing In The Name Of”. Shockingly enough, they even do it justice.
Despite being the only heavy band on a 24-act slate, In Hearts Wake have no troubles drawing in a full tent of diehard mosh addicts for their 4pm set. The earthcore quintet showcase choice cuts from both sides of the Earthwalker and Skydancer project, throwing ire into the ether with all-out scorchers the likes of “Badlands”, and bending souls with slower jams like the celestial “Wildflower”. Clean vocals on lockdown at the hand of bassist Kyle Erich, a shot of venomous guttural fury comes from frontman Jake Taylor; hell hath no fury like Taylor in his natural element, commanding the biggest (and probably only) wall of death in GTM history as the band tie their thirty minutes up in “Breakaway”.