Groovin The Moo 2016
Review: Matt Doria – University Of Canberra, Canberra 24/04/2016
Photos: Billy Zammit – Maitland Showgrounds, Maitland 23/04/2016
Stripped of energy and duly baked by the unforgiving Canberran sun, I find myself whipped up in the VIP Udder Mayhem bar – the tropical Red Bull and vodka is $12 I have absolutely zero regrets in spending, but everyone here looks way too ‘official’, so I’m in and out about as quickly as a working class peasant can be. Directly next to it, though, is the Baby Burger truck, where I know I’m welcome; a crushingly overpriced slider later, and I’m back at the Channel [V] stage, ready for death à la schizoid pop.
Theatricality reigns as Twenty One Pilots take to the stage. From the costume changes to the classic set pieces, the duo’s fifty-minute offering plays out like one of their labyrinthine headline shows – albeit condensed to only illustrate the bare essentials. A makeshift crane slowly lowers a microphone down as Tyler Joseph (vocals, keys) sprints onto his platform, a skeleton hoodie zipped over his face as he raps the breakneck-paced opening verse of “Heavydirtysoul”. He breaks the uke out for “We Don’t Believe What’s On TV” and a bass out for “Ride”, and climbs a distressingly-high stack of shipping containers to end “Car Radio”.
On the drums, Josh Dun is equally operatic. He shutters the ending of “Ride” out on a kit held up by the crowd, uses the interlude in “Holding Onto You” as an opportunity to chuck a backflip, and smashes out a cover of Dr. Dre’s “The Next Episode” aided by a festival-wide singalong. An eruption of smoke and confetti sends “Trees” out on a bang, the TØP virgins amongst us now gasping for air and stealthily downloading Blurryface.
With skies now a tepid purple and the atmosphere a mellow breeze, Sydney stalwarts The Rubens make themselves at home with an hour’s residency of the folkiest, funkiest indie rock this side of the Parliament House. His tenor roaring like the MGM lion, frontman Sam Margin circles the stage with a swagger that could throw Kim Jong Un head over heals. Having taken out the #1 spot in last year’s Hottest 100, the title track from Hoops stands out as a rapturous victory amongst the hourlong set. “Cut Me Loose” is a close second in the highlight reel, though, Margin now shirtless and crowdsurfing in an inflatable raft.
My final food truck endeavour for the day is Waffleland – comparing British India to a doughnut earlier has made me crave a pastry as much as those chewing face to Danny Brown right now are craving more pingers, and since there isn’t a doughnut truck currently onsite (poor form, organisers), this’ll have to do. I settle on the “Groovin Delight” – vanilla ice cream, strawberries, milk chocolate flakes and chocolate syrup. Again, fucking get in my belly already.
Time is short, so I eat while I walk. It’s a culinary experience in and of itself – or, as much of an experience as you can get from a reconfigured caravan – but as I come to the merch tent and peer upon the GTM hoodies, I wish I hadn’t been so exorbitant on the truck fare (we’re talking $65 for a Gildan here, which is a pricing structure that can go fuck itself).
At the peak of his game with a live drummer to boot, alternative rap heavyweight Illy brings the Moolin Rouge to its collective knees. The Melbournite delivers a genuine performance, spitting bars without a hiccup and bounding around the stage like an over-caffeinated toddler. His 45-minute set spans an entire discography, from old-school classic “Cigarettes” to the as-yet-unreleased “If Looks Could Kill”. His remix of The Amity Affliction’s “Youngbloods” is an early cut, hype unfailingly booming and coasting along until “Swear Jar” and “Tightrope” serve as a double epic closing salvo.
There’s only an hour left until it becomes an Uber driver’s Christmas, and while EDM button-pusher Alison Wonderland closes the mainstage, rocktronica luminaries Ratatat are tasked with wrapping up the Rouge. Their stage is adorned with custom lighting rigs and a screen display recounting the ghastliest of acid trips, but seldom do the Brooklyn duo hook punters in with their lavish productions. It’s the music that does the talking (quite literally – “thank you” are the only words ever uttered from the band), and with a setlist built on classics spanning their entire 5-LP career, the music here says a damn lot.
Last year’s Magnifique is given the most attention – “Pricks Of Brightness” kicks the set off on a sizzling high note, and “Abrasive” breaks out the festival’s biggest dancefloor moments. Older favourites are not out of place, though, “Seventeen Years” and “Loud Pipes” especially having aged well with added guitar solos and sweet, sweet pedal effects. Evan Mast and Mike Stroud are both unyielding with their instruments, every chord a momentary rollercoaster ride and every note battered out with unfathomable precision. “Cream On Chrome” is the only track unappreciated, but there’s good reason – a couple of maggot blokes decided to climb the tent’s support structures during it, and as such, attention was prioritised.
A makeshift rave is still kicking on in the Heaps Gay tent, but my feet screaming violently through their Doc Martin prison cells, I am fucking done. This time, the three-hour commute feels like a cross-country trip with a stop at every boring half-landmark. Do I regret it, though? Fuck no. Catch me at GTM ’17 decked out in a $65 hoodie – I’ll be the one still sunburnt from this year.