Hay Park, Bunbury
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Mixing big international acts like Kaiser Chiefs and City & Colour with practically all the big Aussie acts of the moment, the third Groovin’ The Moo in Bunbury showed that it’s a sure-fire winner on the festival calendar.
A man at the height of his Triple J-imposed god status right now is Matt Corby. The dude is ridiculously hot and stupidly down-to-earth with a stupendous vocal range. He seems quietly aware that he has the best and probably easiest job on the planet: being the nice guy with the loop pedal who can sing. He can also handle the big stages with consummate ease, and it was great to see him in action with a full live band playing many electric numbers. It was no wonder Ball Park Music’s lead singer Sam Cromack said “I’m borrowing Matt Corby’s guitar at the moment... I already feel more attractive,” later in the night.
Clad in all-white with nothing but a keyboard and a backing tape for accompaniment, Andrew WK risked coming across as the irrelevant elderly uncle of the day—and when he brought out MC Alistair X, who supported WK at his sideshows and strongly resembles a Morley meth dealer, things could seriously have gone either way. The pair had one of the smallest crowds of the day, but the way they handled the situation was nothing short of remarkable. In one of their final numbers, Andrew WK instructed his entire audience to rush from one side of the main stage and crash headlong into the adjoining crowd gathering to watch The Getaway Plan. After a massive build-up, this they enthusiastically did. Suddenly WK’s crowd was twice the size as people ran in from everywhere, relishing the chance to devolve into a glorious mess of circle pitting and slam dancing. It was a truly impressive, hilarious and ridiculous feat; made all the more enjoyable by the fact that The Getaway Plan’s set went down a tad ineffectual.
360 had an earlier timeslot than one would expect, especially if you’ve been lucky enough to catch one of his explosive live shows in Perth earlier this year. Predictably, the track that drew the biggest crowd response was the ridiculously catchy Boys Like You, though Killer and Throw It Away were also performed to perfection.
Parkway Drive were an interesting inclusion for the main stage due to the fact that they are so loud and threatening compared to pretty much every other act on the bill. As fans of ‘nice’ music ducked for cover, fans of outrageous behaviour got busy—keeping the security guards on high alert throughout the set.
Canada’s City & Colour may not be a terribly exciting act to watch, but the fact former Alexisonfire frontman Dallas Green’s insanely beautiful falsetto could quiet and enchant a rowdy crowd of thousands was something to behold. Green appeared to have a lot of WA fans, and is sure to have even more following his spellbinding performance, which included heartbreaking renditions of The Girl and Fragile Bird.
And then, there’s Wavves, who were amazing. Mixing ‘60s garage psychedelia and ‘80s surf punk, they were trippy, catchy and awesomely fun from start to finish; the delightfully garish light show belied their totally sardonic approach. One of the best things about this band is bass player Stephen Pope, a huge fat, slow moving dude with a Flying-V guitar and ginormous hair; he looks like he’s somehow dragged himself away from the nacho bowl at his mum’s house to reluctantly come on tour. He’s pretty much the frontman, but he’d rather drink beer than talk to the audience, and in the last song he took his shirt off and tried to wear a bra someone had thrown on stage.
After playing Southbound last year, hip hop royalty Public Enemy returned to the South West with a greatest hits set to celebrate their 25 years in the business. Their experience showed as Chuck D and Flavor Flav played an amazing set. D was in fine form as he led us through such classics as Don’t Believe The Hype, Can’t Truss It and Welcome To The Terrordome. While it might be easy to dismiss (or diss) Flavor Flav for his recent forays into reality TV, you cannot deny his ability to hype up a crowd - his rendition of 911 Is A Joke and his jams on both bass and drums showed off his uncanny musical ability. DJ Lord’s turntable juggling of Smells Like Teen Spirit and Seven Nation Army also got the crowd pumped for the final hours of the day.
But it was Aussie hip hop’s reigning kings Hilltop Hoods that took the Bunno crowd to the next level. The Adelaide rappers did their best to whip the crowd into a frenzy, even when they refused to resume playing until two idiot punters climbed back down from one of the speaker towers in the field. Playing a seamless mix of hits from The Nosebleed Section and The Hard Road to the Sia-featured I Love It, it seemed almost too easy for them to serve up tasty hip hop treats to a crowd of hungry punters and leave them satisfied, if not wanting more.
Having played Rock It and V Festival in WA in the past, it was fitting to see Kaiser Chiefs where they belong: on a festival main stage playing anthem after anthem. With the weather by now more Antarctic than equatorial, jumping up and down and singing Everyday I Love You Less And Less proved to be the best way to avoid hypothermia. But Never Miss A Beat and Ruby went down the best. How many hits can one band have in less than a decade?
While a few festivals with better line-ups than this one suffered in low numbers this year, you can’t fault Groovin’ The Moo’s ingenious idea of bringing jam-packed multi-genre bills to entertainment-starved regional towns.
_MATTHEW HOGAN, TARA LLOYD & BEN WATSON