Words Will Oakeshott.
Photos Tim Forbes Photography.
Arriving to Oakbank racecourse, a very familiar scene entered mine (and most likely many other festival punters who were born before 1985) that was of the Green Day film clip for their hit single When I Come Around shot at Woodstock festival 1994. If this clip predates the knowledge of readers here, which it probably would for many of the brave who attended Groovin’ The Moo in South Australia, the infamous video features the band and thousands of fans basically coated in mud due to wet weather. With this in mind, it would be fair to call this festival at this location “Groovin’ The Mud’, but this fact definitely did NOT dampen the spirits of thousands of brave and saturated music aficianados.
Arriving to catch Melbourne’s The Delta Riggs weird their way through a thankfully covered set at the Moolin Rouge tent, it was jam packed for probably two reasons. One being that it was actually sheltered from the rain but still muddier than a swampland; then finally because although this quartet isn’t the most accessible or direct with their fuzz-indie-stoner-punk surfer rock, their show is enough to captivate even if that weird conglomerate of genres is not one’s cup of tea. Preferring their single Rah Rah Radio as it channels Iggy Pop & The Stooges personally, compared to Supersonic Casualties which forces the Riggs to sound like a bad Blur cover band. All-in-all however, a pretty solid opening act to witness and warm up the early attendees.
Keeping with the same location and deciding it was time to liven up the event with some metal, it was NSW’s Northlane who had deservedly acquired that role for GTM which Parkway Drive had successfully done the year prior. Bursting out of the gates with Quantum Flux, it was quickly made clear that new vocalist Marcus Bridge was the right choice for the band as he was simply commanding from the word go. Aspire, Rot, Masquerade, Scarab, Dream Awake and Dispossession all made appearances and transcended the audience to another world. How you may ask? GTM attracts a younger generation who could come under the “hipster” moniker, Northlane with their progressive djent spiritual metalcore went beyond narrow minded labels and brought everyone together with their music. Was going to be hard to top this for the latter acts.
It was time to suffer the conditions and head to the main stages, Channel V to be more specific, to be bedazzled by the vocal talents of Melbourne’s Meg Mac. Unfortunately it would seem that the sound technician suffered the muddy conditions also as the songstress’ main weapon of astounding magnitude was basically silenced. This was soon rectified however and the show went on, rather marvellously. A little person with such a powerful voice that even Aretha Franklin would take notice. Especially with her song Roll Up Your Sleeves, which when performed had so much soul it cleansed all who witnessed it.
As hard as Sydney’s One Day tried, they just didn’t have the magnetism to be more than a “Kick-Off” act. The track Mainline had some intrigue and good flow for the hip-hop troupe. Honestly, it wasn’t enough and to a degree just became background music.
Sydney’s psychadelic-reggae-indie rockers, Sticky Fingers, returned the strange vibes to the festival with both nudity from keyboardist Freddy Crabs and some “mary jane” haze. The seven-piece were oddly addictive to the masses who at this point embraced the mud hill to a carefree degree. But, when music is this good can you blame them?
With the amount of global touring Sydney quintet The Preatures could almost be forgotten as an Australian act, but this worldwide journey has certainly paid off, not forgetting their high profile support slot with rock royalty The Rolling Stones. Their debut album Blue Planet Eyes received the most attention, understandably and single Is This How You Feel? generated a memorable buzz. Front woman Isabella Manfredi was showcases her envy for Joan Jett, but the music collectively is more comparable to The Cardigans. The keyboards are a fantastic addition notably.
Moving away from Australian acts, the first choice of this writer’s day was the hardcore enthusiasts’ pop-rock pleasure in You Me At Six. Most likely feeling quite at home in the wintery conditions, they exploded into Room To Breathe as if they were playing to a filled stadium and it was awe-inspiring. Sadly though the crowd sized remained minor comparably to the bigger audiences of the day, but their was a charming warmth to the intimacy of this also. Stay With Me, Loverboy, No-One Does It Better, Underdog, Reckless, Forgive And Forget, Bite My Tongue (unfortunately not featuring Bring Me The Horizon’s Oli Sykes, but vocalist Josh Franceschi filled the void remarkably), Fresh Start Fever and then the inspirational Lived A Lie made up the concert which sadly deserved much more attention.
Brisbane’s Ball Park Music brought their indie-jazz-pop-rock which reads well on paper but didn’t really have the mesmerising effect it suggests. Sure, a blend of The Living End with even parts of Arcade Fire sounds like a victory, but this wasn’t quite the case.
Canada’s Peaches aimed to weird out the crowd in the Moolin Rouge tent as night had hit, but it wasn’t to be the case. The last time I witnessed this DJ synthpunk she was actually booed off-stage, but it seems eating out a person dressed as a vagina was exactly what Oakbank ordered. Entertainment can come in the most peculiar forms, even in the wet (pun intended).
Adelaide’s own Hot Dub Time Machine proved that a good playlist spanning the music of the decades is enough to attract thousands of people. At this point in the evening I was more than happy to hear bands and artists ranging from Led Zeppelin to AC/DC, to Nirvana, to Blur, to Rage Against The Machine. I did lose my way a bit when he decided to actually play dance music of more recent times, as he just becomes an average DJ in a sense. The massive audience were ecstatic and it was easy to get caught in the moment.
The rock needed to continue and Sydney’s Wolfmother better probably known as the Andrew Stockdale project were the “band” to maintain the intensity. To be frank actually, bassist Ian Peres was the centre of attention and energy, swaggering around the stage like a true crazed musician. The tracks Dimension and Mind’s Eye were executed to near recorded perfection, but the trio looked as if they were going through the motions. It took the highlight song of the set Joker And The Thief for Mr. Stockdale to really come out of his “cosmic egg” and boost his live persona, luckily just in time.
How to close such a monumental event? For this scribe he stayed local and was swarmed by thousands of others, easily the largest audience of the day belonged to Hilltop Hoods. Now I know this fine publication doesn’t really follow the hip-hop genre. However this is where there is further intrigue, this concert did not just feature MCs Suffa and Pressure with DJ Debris, alongside was also a live percussionist and brass band. This wasn’t just a hip-hop show, this was orchestral and unforgettable. With the favourites provoking the audience to participate to whatever value they could, including: The Hard Road, I Love It, The Nosebleed Section and Cosby Sweater, it was extravagant and sensational. One just has to marvel at the growth this group has gone through since their humble beginnings, it is warranted and prestigious.
How to summarise? Groovin’ The Mud (I mean Moo) has only become bigger and better since it’s inception in 2005 and this writer even after the worse conditions probably imaginable has no doubt that this will continue to occur. To finish with a quote from former Canadian Politician Bob Rae: “Like sailors, we cannot change the weather or the direction of the wind. But we can change the direction of our sails.”
Oakbank and all involved, you certainly achieved this, stay dry but I’m sure you are happy.