Archive of ‘Festivals’ category

Splendour in The Grass Review

SplendourIt’s that time of year again. The weather was predictably ominous, gumboot sales hit an annual high and patrons from all over the country migrated to North Byron Parklands for Australia’s premiere music festival, Splendour In The Grass. If you’ve never been to Splendour, then you’ve probably never been to Woodstock either, but it’s something like what you imagine Woodstock to have been like, except with hipsters everywhere instead of hippies.

Day One / Milk was a bad choice…

Day one was hot. Despite the inevitable forecast of rain, the weather couldn’t have been better, with warm sun and endless blue skies in every direction. The day was opened by two incredible emerging artists, Unearthed winner Airling, whose ethereal sounds seem to be drawn straight from a dreamscape, and Fractures, the electronic-indie mastermind behind Won’t Win, a track that has been getting much airtime of late.

Brisbane’s punk-rock two piece, DZ Deathrays followed in the early afternoon. They played a raucous, pyrotechnics savvy set which inspired some early festival moshing, even by those who had chosen to don full costumes and I’ve got to say, there is something quite special about watching a chicken and gorilla square off in a death circle.

The Preatures were up next at the amphitheatre and its easy to see why these guys have risen so quickly to prominence, with front woman Isabella Manfredi had the crowd enraptured from the moment she stepped out on stage. And from their newer stuff like Better Than It Ever Could Be to their defining track, Is This How You Feel?ThePreatures outdid expectations and cemented themselves as one of the highlights of the first day.

As always, Ball Park Music delivered an incredible showing and managed to do the only thing left to make their set more light-hearted and fun, finished with a cover of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, enough said.

Spiderbait are a band that have always had an incredible rock bravado and that couldn’t have been demonstrated more perfectly than when vocalist/drummer Mark Maher brought his daughter onstage and proclaimed “She is the future of rock and roll!”. Also, you know, Black Betty…bah bah-nah.

The Presets were added to the lineup after the highly anticipated London Grammar dropped out of festival due to illness. And although many would have been undoubtedly disappointed by the change, their dancing shoes would have surely thanked them because The Presets did not disappoint, delivering heavy, electro-dance sounds that had everyone grooving.

Over at the MIx-Up tent, Childish Gambino was reminding everyone why he is quickly becoming the best thing to happen to rap in a long time. Aside from the obvious showing of 3005 and Sweatpants he reworked a bunch of his songs into a mash-up melody, performed an intense, impromptu freestyle and danced the whole set like a piece of ribbon caught in an updraft, the guy is a lord.

Headlining day one of Splendour was Andre 3000 and Big Boi, together forming legendary hip-hop duo Outkast. After some time apart, their comeback had been met with tepid review, but the guys were quick to extinguish any doubts, playing an amazing hour and forty-five minute set with songs from throughout their 20 year career. The capacity crowd sang along in a deafening chorus to Hey Ya! and I’m Sorry Miss Jackson and danced along like the occult to B.O.B. Without a doubt Outkast are back and they truly are so fresh and so clean (probably).

Day Two / Violent Sticky Island Foals, also Dallas Green.

Local act Tora kicked things off on day two of Splendour and their indie-electronic mix drew a substantial crowd considering the early time slot. They were followed a little later by Sydney favourites Sticky Fingers who quickly got the crowd bouncing and jiving to the catchy, reggae riffs of Gold Snafu and Australia Street. And though their outfits would have been just as at home on a 80’s porn set, their sound most definitely belonged on the main amphitheatre stage.

The GW McLennan tent resounded with the whimsical vocals of Dustin Tebbutt, a solo artist whose been making waves since his single The Breach dropped last year. Although it was a slower set, his soothing melodies were a welcome comedown from the downright debauchery that was Sticky Fingers.

The downtime didn’t last for long though as Brisbane four piece, Violent Soho were next to take the amphitheatre stage, playing their biggest show yet. The rough, distorted riffs of Covered In Chrome and Fur Eyes were exactly what the crowd wanted, erupting in a huge mosh with the first chord and never letting up. They were also the second act to bring a toddler onstage, though these guys took out the “more concerning” descriptor when bassist Luke Henery continued thrashing around the admittedly ear-muffed child.

Future Islands have seen a huge surge in popularity since their single, Seasons (Waiting On You) — or more specifically frontman Samuel Herring’s dancing to Seasons (think Peter-Garrett but less terrible) — was unearthed earlier in the year. They proved to be one of the best acts of day two, delivering an awesome synth-pop set to the adoration of the crowd.

The rain that had been threatening the festival all day finally arrived in the early evening, greeting The Jezabels on the amphitheatre stage. Thankfully the vibe remained bone-dry and the crowd danced along enthusiastically to The Jezabels powerful vocals in Easy To Love and the effortless musical progressions of Dark Storm and A Little Piece.

With huge sound, Foals followed up on the main stage, having stepped in to replace the originally billed Two Door Cinema Club. The precipitation wained as the British indie-rock outfit hammered out a set which offered everything from the slower tracks like Blue Blood with it’s defined orchestral beauty, to their more up beat songs in TwoSteps Twice and My Number, both of which caused that indie style of mosh-dancing to permeate the crowd.  Although the omission of Two Door was disappointing, especially at such late notice, Foals’ was easily one of the best performances of the festival and could hardly be seen as a downfall. It’s like reaching into a box of Paddle Pops (rainbow flavoured) and pulling out a Bubble-O-Bill — objectively better, even though both are delicious live acts.

Day two saw Dallas Green as City and Color headline, delivering a powerful and heartfelt performance well into the night. Tracks like Weightless and Sleeping Sickness showcased the Canadian singer’s strong vocals while songs like The Grand Optimist, written for his father, were especially moving. Anyone even vaguely familiar with City andColor would know Green has one of the most hauntingly beautiful voices around and his showing at Splendour only reaffirmed that reputation.

Day Three / And the horse I rode in on.

Day three of Splendour dawned, bringing with it a euphoric wooziness that only a three day festival can provide. The Creases took the stage early on in the day and rocked their single, Static Lines, before New York’s Skaters played a bunch of their Strokes-inspired garage-rock sounds — there must be something special in those New York City garages right?

Melbourne’s rock outfit Kingswood were next to play the amphitheatre, where they dropped their latest single I Can Feel That You Don’t Love Me as well as their breakthrough track Ohio, the set ending abruptly with guitarist Alex Laska jumping through the drum kit.

At the Mix-Up stage it was the UK’s modern soul collective Jungle who had the crowd moving to the beat of their punchy dance numbers into the afternoon. Their recent hits Time and Busy Earnin’ were easily the highlights of the set but all their tunes were definitely dance-worthy.

The fun continued over at the amphitheatre in indie-rock form with California’s Grouplove putting on a stellar performance which culminated in the destruction of a pastel-pink acoustic guitar. A huge crowd had flocked in to see everything from their breakout track, Colours, to the ever-popular Tongue Tied, and danced along frantically the whole time.

Scottish electronic trio Cvrches may not be able to spell but my they certainly can put on a live performance. With catchy electronic riffs running deep throughout, impressive, resounding vocals and a tessellating visual backdrop, tunes like Recover, Lies and the more tempered The Mother We Share all captivated the crowd. Centred amongst a minimalistic stage setup, front woman Lauren Mayberry delivered a vocal performance that really seemed at home in the large outdoor amphitheatre.

Experimental indie-rockers Wild Beasts played to a disappointingly small crowd on the GW McLennan stage later that evening, especially given the group’s incredible talent. It did create a distinctly intimate feel, however, the likes of which is usual absent from festival acts. Boasting some of the best harmonised melodies in the business,Wild Beasts played a solid set, showcasing their full musical range and from the intense, layered vocals in All The King’s Men to the gradually building mystique of Hooting and Howling they had the crowd swooning.

With an endearing shyness, singer/songwriter Ben Howard stepped onto the GW McLennan stage, greeted by the deafening applause of an adoring crowd. The low humming of the Foster The People set could be heard in the distance as Howard began, his eerie voice quickly drowning out everything except the careful echo of the crowd as they sang along with every song. Black Flies and a longer, more experimental live version of The Wolves being the highlights of a truly memorable set.

The days were hot, the nights cold and the lines long but this year’s Splendour In The Grass really was a thing of musical dreams.

PBS Live Drive Announcement

Courtney BarnettCommunity Radio Station PBS is back at it again with its annual live drive event delivering a week of in-studio live gigs from the likes of Courtney Barnett, Hiatus Kaiyote and DD Dumbo. The gigs are free to attend to all who want, but space is limited with priority to PBS subscribers/members, so sign up and support these guys if you’re worried you will miss out.

LINE UP:
Monday 3 February 
Forces ­
Miles Brown ­
White Hex ­
Tuesday 4 February ­ 
The Stevens ­
Courtney Barnett ­
School of Radiant Living ­

Wednesday 5 February ­ 
Hiatus Kaiyote ­
DD Dumbo ­
The Harpoons ­
Thursday 6 February ­ 
Harry Howard and the NDE ­
Cherrywood ­
Bad Vision 
Friday 7 February
The Murlocs ­ 
Wonderboy ­
Sugar Fed Leopards­

Groovin’ The Moo Line-Up 2014

GTMGroovin The Moo is back touring the country, with the notable addition of a South Australian date for the first time. Headlined by Disclosure, and backed up by a host of buzz bands from locally and overseas, the festival has unleashed one if its most impressive line-ups to date. Tickets are on sale now, so get along.

The full line-up:

Action Bronson (USA)

Andy Bull

Architecture In Helsinki

Cults (USA)

Disclosure (UK)

Dizzee Rascal (UK)

Holy F**K (CAN)

Illy

The Jezabels

The Jungle Giants

Karnivool

Kingswood

The Kite String Tangle

Loon Lake

The Naked And Famous (NZ)

Parkway Drive

Peking Duk

The Presets

Robert Delong (USA)

Thundamentals

Vance Joy

Violent Soho

Wave Racer

What So Not

Tour dates:

  • Friday, April 25 – Oakbank Racecourse, Oakbank, SA
  • Saturday, April 26 – Maitland Showground, Maitland, NSW
  • Sunday, April 27 – University of Canberra, ACT
  • Saturday, May 3 – Prince Of Wales Showground, Bendigo VIC
  • Sunday, May 4 – Murray Sports Complex, Townsville, QLD
  • Saturday, May 10 – Hay Park, Bunbury, WA

Lorne Falls Festival Review

A drive down The Great Ocean Road is usually enough to suffice for a pretty good getaway, but to drive along that coastline knowing that you are about to watch one of the greatest festival line-ups ever gets you pretty psyched before you even enter The Falls Festival. Once the mandatory traffic jam on the way in, and race for the most camping space was over, everything was set to go for day 1.

The first set we caught was The Smith St Band headed by the energetic Will Wagner. Playing a host of pacey indie punk tunes, these guys were one great way to pop my Falls Festival cherry for 2014. After a solid set from rising Brit star, Tom Odell, Owl Eyes took the stage to perform one of the best sets of the day. Whipping through a host of classics like ‘Raiders’, ‘Crystallized’, and ‘Closure’, Owl Eyes just captivated the crowd with her take on indie electro. Bombino were definately one of the cooler acts of the festival. Dressed more like characters out of Ali Baba than rock stars, these  guys just ripped through an absolutely pulsing set. Although largely instrumental, even the songs sung in anohter language were enjoyable, and it was just so cool to see something so different to the norm rocking out on the main stage.

As good as the others were, London Grammar stole the show on Day 1. One of the breakthrough artists for 2013, it was easy to see why with the vocal prowess of lead singer Hannah Reid just blowing the crowd away. It was great to hear singles such as ‘WastingMy Young Years’, ‘Strong’, and ‘Hey Now’ live for the first time, and despite some computer trouble, left the crowd very very happy.

Come the evening, Flight Facilities reunited with Owl Eyes once more to give off the first real party vibes of the festival. In a great set combining their DJ mixing abilities coalesced with their singles, aptly sung by Owl Eyes, with ‘Claire de Lune’ being a particular highlight. MGMT were the only slightly disappointing act for the night. Whilst it was great to hear their music, it was a fairly self-indulgent set, where the guys didn’t really put as much of a show as they probably could have. They also destroyed ‘Kids’, making into a weird 10 minute mash-up of sound as opposed to letting the crowd enjoy the track in its original glory.  It was just one of those disappointing sets that showed MGMT hate the music that made them famous. Nonetheless despite the MGMT dampener it was solid day 1 as we rugged up and returned to the tents, eager for Wombats tomorrow night.

Day two saw an early rise to catch the one man talent known as Oliver Tank. His calm melodica was a great way to kick off the morning as he played a mellow set including my personal favourite ‘Last Night I Heard Everything in Slow Motion’, and new single featuring Taku. Asta followed on in an energetic and colourful set that was so solid, you could be forgiven for forgetting that the 19 year old was only unearthed last year.

Sliding into the Grand Theatre to catch the comedians Amos Gill and Ronnie Cheing was perhaps the best ad hoc decision of the day. Amos Gill showed why he was one of the best rising comedians around, with a phenomenal cyclical routine comprising a host of eloquently (yes, eloquently) executed poo jokes and introduction of catchy terms such as ‘glutards’ in reference to gluten intolerant individuals. It was a great way to break up a day, and get plenty of laughs out.

The John Steel Singers, Vydamo, Chet Faker, and Grizzly Bear made up the rest of the afternoon, each producing a set that melted the ears and left you very happy with the decision to go to Falls. The John Steel Singers gave us a good taste of their new album, along with their older favourites including ‘Overpass’ and ‘Strawberry Wine’. Chet Faker signaled his love for the Festival and played on our excitement announcing that his new album was dropping early next year. Words cannot describe Grizzly Bear, they made me weak at the knees like nothing else.

Neil Finn, Crystal Fighters and The Wombats all made for one hell of an evening. Never before have I been so happy to be packed into a mosh for four hours, but these three acts were incredible. Neil Finn played a ‘greatest of’ set featuring all his classics from Split Enz, Crowded House and solo career, getting the whole crowd going in the process. Time hasn’t wearied him as a performer either, the stage is clearly HIS stage, and hits such as ‘Weather With You’, ‘I Got You’, and ‘Don’t Dream Its Over’ are simply timeless.

Crystal Fighters took to the stage in a fit of eclecticism, with veils, topless guitarists, and so much sparkling colour. Having been a huge fan of there music on the iPod, I can vouch that it is so much better live, as these guys lose no quality of their sound, and buff it up with boundless energy and entertainment. MGMT should definitely talk to Crystal Fighters about putting on a show, as they gave the crowd more than I think anyone was ever expecting.

The Wombats were one of the acts I was keenest for at the Festival, and having already seen their mesmerizing live show before, was glad to see they hadn’t lost a smidgen of their entertainment value. In a set that had the entire hill at Lorne bouncing around to tracks such as ’1996′, ‘Techno Fan’, and the older hits such as ‘Kill The Director’, the Wombats couldn’t put a step wrong. Debuting their latest single for the first time live, ‘Your Body is A Weapon’ was received really well, whilst closing their set out with ‘Lets Dance to Joy Division’, was just the cherry on top of an incredible set and phenomenal day of music.

Day 3 opened up with one of my favourite bands of 2013, The Preatures. Showing why both their EPs have been so well received, these guys pumped through a pulsing set of rock n’ roll, with the anthem of last year ‘This Is How I Feel’ getting everyone running down to dance in the mosh. Dustin Tebbut was next up and a complete change of scene as the rising folk star plucked his way through a delightfully soulful set, where break through single ‘The Breach’ was a particular highlight.

Big Scary put in one of the most solid sets of the festival. Their debut album ‘Not Art’ was one of our picks for 2013, for its perfect embrace of moody, atmospheric indie pop, and seeing them live only confirmed this. They were so much louder, more raucous and intense live than I ever imagined, and the on stage interactions added such personality to their music that you could not have got just from the record. It was a set that just re-inspired my obsession with Big Scary.

The Paper Kites continued the Grand Theatre’s run of more mellow artists on Day 3 as they picked their way through their array of soft calming indie folk tunes. As always ‘Bloom’ and ‘St Clarity’ were well received, with the highlight being Sam instructing those you cannot whistle not t0, “Because you will ruin it”. Ah the Brutal honesty.

One of the more upsetting acts of the day was Dappled Cities, not because of their music, but because of their lack of crowd. I am a huge Dappled Cities fan and their set was competitive with the best at the festival, but the whole time you couldn’t help but feel sorry for the guys, I guess there set just wasn’t on at the right time.

The Cat Empire put on a very loud, very fun, brass filled set that managed to get the whole crowd on side. They just had that energy and buzz that made their music enjoyable, despite most people not knowing anything other than ‘Sly’ and ‘Hello’. Needless to say, the crowd was well and truly warmed up for their next act.

Vampire Weekend were a great way to bring in the New Year, with their three albums worth of calypso indie pop fully out on display. They played a fun solid set, albeit it slightly light on crowd interaction. A flare shooting onto stage didn’t even enhance that interaction too much as they played A-punk post midnight barely fazed, despite destroying a host of their equipment. With my festival fatigue well and truly set it, we retired to the tents to enjoy the very loud Hermitude from the camp site.

Needless to say cannot wait for next year!

Listen Out Festival – Sydney Review

Listen-Out-Logo

This Saturday we were lucky enough to head over to Centennial Park for Listen Out, the new dance music festival that is Fuzzy Entertainment’s replacement of the now-scrapped Parklife festival. The festival’s tagline of “Party. Redefined.”  was well reflected by the headliners of Disclosure and Azealia Banks, along with countless dance acts, both Aussie and from abroad.

We arrived just in time for Aussie electronic artist Hayden James, who started the day off with some heavy beats from his recently released five-track EP Permission to Love. Following Hayden James was Sydney-based trio RüFüS, whose debut album Atlas debuted at #1 on the ARIA Albums Chart on August 18th. Despite only having formed in 2010, this indie dance band has skyrocketed in popularity and managed to draw one of the largest crowds out of the early acts at Listen Out. Fans were well rewarded by their foot stomping set which ended on a fantastic, extended, upbeat version of their popular single ‘desert night’.

Next up was Touch Sensitive, who you may know as any of Arithmatix, a multi-instrumentalist band member of Van She, or by his actual name Michael Di Francesco. He delivered a synth-tastic set complete with hip shaking, a remix of Hayden James’ ‘Permission to Love’ and his current hit single ‘Pizza Guy’. Minutes afterwards, British duo AlunaGeorge hit the stage to keep the party going, with Aluna Francis capturing the attention of every man and woman alike with her alluring dance routine and awe-inspiring vocals.

Not so well received was headliner Azealia Banks from Harlem, New York. Ten minutes into her set she berated a crowd member for throwing a can onto the stage. A few songs later a not-so-impressed crowd member threw another can onto the stage during Azealia’s rendition of ‘Harlem Shake’, sending her storming off the stage in a fit of rage. The crowd booed and many crowd members were heard saying something along the lines of “she didn’t even do her main song!” Lucky for the few who were holding out for ‘212’, she came back on stage briefly to perform the debut single and then promptly left again. In stark contrast, UK house superstars Disclosure drew the largest crowd for the day and kept the crowd very pleased. Opening on huge dance numbers ‘F for you’ and ‘When a Fire Starts to Burn’, Disclosure had their fans dancing from the get go and never slowed down from there.

Overall, listen out was a solid day of dancing, great music and good times. Look out for it to become an annual shindig.

Homebake Announce New Format and Line-Up

Homebake 2013

Homebake have combined forces with the Sydney Opera House to celebrate their 18th birthday in a one change to the festivals usual home at The Domain. Accompanying the change in venue is the new three day format that seemed like a necessity to ensure the festival could maintain its usual prowess in its new temporary home of grandeur. Now occurring over three days, the festival line up for each day is outline below. Get excited guys!

Day 1 lineup

Friday, 6th December
Gates Open 4:00pm

Paul Kelly
Gurrumul
Eskimo Joe
Vance Joy
Thelma Plum
Sheppard

Day 2 lineup

Saturday, 7th December
Gates Open 2:00pm

The Presets
The Cat Empire
Architecture In Helsinki
The Aston Shuffle
Way Of The Eagle (featuring guest performers Dan Sultan, Daniel Merriweather, Amy Findlay, Harry Angus & Lachlan Mitchell)
Deep Sea Arcade
Bam Bam

Day 3 lineup

Sunday, 7th December
Gates Open 2:00pm

Birds of Tokyo
Bernard Fanning
The Rubens
You Am I
Beasts Of Bourbon
Kingswood
Courtney Barnett

Plus comedy, bars, great food & markets

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