A Saturday morning travelling to Bendigo after having missed Groovin The Moo for a few years. Headed to the Prince of Wales Showgrounds and it was a bit of a dreary start to the day, drizzle dampening the air as bodies began to meander around the grounds in preparation for a day of music. But the goal was the same as always – cram in as many acts as possible.
Crowds were beginning to gather at stages, including a few braving that dampness to see Olympia kick things off with some very cool indie pop. Despite feeling a little under the weather, a little guitar and synth with abstract influences for songs was enough to stir a bit of a gentle groove in the morning.
The strum of an acoustic guitar and a singalong chorus coming from the next stage lured in the people to the folky sounds of Tiny Little Houses. A little fragile, with many contemplative words accompanying the sounds provided more easy listening before midday arrived, albeit it in a lo-fi, dejected way. But more assertiveness came from the authentic, down to earth words of Dylan Joel. With all that energy accompanying some honest, no-nonsense words and live sounds it was easy to see why the people continued to come in droves.
The weather brought out a few pesky tricks again, but after some clever thinking from the stage crew it was time to see Harts in action. Hearing the tracks alone doesn’t do this guy justice – a formidable guitarist, living up to all claims and reputation and a great vocalist and throwing in some stylish keyboard tinkering to boot. Nothing but seriously smooth grooves with a whole heap of soul, rock and blues to entertain and impress.
But as far as stage presence goes the confidence and sass from Ngaiire was unmatched giving serious authority to that soulful voice. An absolute powerhouse, and mind-blowingly good to say the least. But the band and backing vocalists deserve some worthy credit too, all commanding some well-deserved attention. No wonder the people cheered so much!
The women continued to impress, with some deep, mysterious synth sounds and a thumping drum announcing the arrival of Emma Louise. Sophisticated indie pop, sultry vocals speaking all things love and relationships with an alluring stage presence ventured from gentle ballads to grooving synth heavy tunes.
All that cheering on the approach to see Remi was in response to an offer of a new track, bouncing around on stage and everyone lapped up the call to join in as the beats pumped through. Extra props were deserved for throwing out a tune to the crowd who had eagerly awaited GTM’s arrival in town and worked their everyday jobs to make it along.
Since last seeing DZ Deathrays a while back, there’s been a 50% increase in stage presence with another muso on hand to bring even more energy and noise to their already insane stage presence. Even with just three on stage, this lot create a huge racket and insanely infectious riffs. It finally felt like GTM was taking off – and not just because of the massive dance circle that seemed to get bigger as time went on.
Shuffling along to the adjacent stage, Drapht wasn’t a planned stopped but with a band in tow for a live hip hop set it was worthy of watching, including some awesome brass. It was unexpectedly good hearing these tunes being brought to life.
British India had to be the favourite of the day – a live favourite anyway, their GTM set was nothing short of fiery and explosive. From the frenzied Black and White Radio to Wrong Direction, the enthusiastic backing vocals from the crowd and tearing up Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk and a ripping Rage Against the Machine cover too (Killing in the Name, of course) was faultless. If that was enough, there was cake and candles for Declan’s birthday – and cake always wins.
Any desire to dance was suitably fulfilled by MS MR with their catchy pop hooks and singalong choruses, throwing in the odd subdued number for a bit of breathing space. There was nothing but sheer bliss and energy coming from that stage.
Energy of a different dimension came from the hard hitting sounds of In Hearts Wake. The crowd did its best to match the noise levels but the band won with an epic rock performance enveloping everything in its path. Undoubtedly the heaviest sounds hitting the GTM stage, but also some of the most poignant. Most impressively, this lot showed genre holds no bounds combining their metal / hardcore ways with an appearance from What So Not on stage for Tell Me.
Then it was time to see Safia. There was only one problem – it seemed that almost everyone else at GTM had the exact same thought, so the crowd was massive and didn’t seem to end in any direction. The shared cosy encounter was well worth it though. Even without being a huge fan, this was a seriously good set.
From the cool, to the super subdued and smooth Jarryd James crooning away on stage. Admitting that shyness was taking a hold, there was nothing to fear with vocal talents aplenty on display and when there’s a song like Do You Remember to inject a crowd then something’s definitely gone to plan.
Twenty One Pilots set about their eclectic ways to the sheer delight of all those waiting patiently in the lead up and those rushing in to share the fun. With everything from shrouded faces, Hawaiian shirts, stage acrobatics, a trumpet, an ukulele, reggae, drum n bass, hip hop inspired beats and rhymes – and that was only for the first part of the set. Nothing short of versatile and varied, with nothing being off limits.
But Client Liaison was throwing its own party at the same time, arriving in perfect time to the sounds of an epic cover of Michael Jackson’s Black or White with everyone primed for some communal karaoke. Endless tunes fuelled a whole heap of dancing and good vibes.
Next stop…The Rubens ready to party hard with their edgy rock crammed with soul and blues vibes, not to mention those simple infectious choruses needing no request or plea for a singalong. My Gun was thrown in mid set to everyone’s delight and surprise with The Meeting Tree coming on stage to make way for a rhyme. And let’s not forget that little foray into crowdsurfing that occurred with Sam riding a lilo propped up by trusted hands at the front of stage.
With another album under their wings, hearing every possible favourite song from Boy & Bear during a festival set was going to be impossible. Nevertheless, it was an awesome opportunity to hear the newer material and revisit some of those favourites all sounding as perfect as ever whether it was the laidback folk rock or something more uptempo, and everyone still sounded as though they remembered every word, including a solid effort on Feeding Line.
Then there was Illy performing to a more than excited crowd spurred on by shouting along to Swear Jar. Ensuring that the guest appearances continued, Peking Duk joined in for some fun on stage.
After Alison Wonderland and Ratatat shrouded in a smoky haze and bright lights it was all over for another year.