The two hour drive north of Sydney up to Maitland was bathed in sunshine. Today was going to be a good day for a festival.
1st band, from Newcastle, The Playtapes on the JJJ stage were indie pop rock. With a debut album about to drop, they got the punters grooving early with floating guitar lines and sweet melodies. Nice chilled way to kick the morning off. Next were hip hop crew Beats Working bringing some cool beats and a ton of energy to Groovin The Moo. I have to admit the more I listen to Aussie hip hop, the more I like it. There’s something more real and relevant about it. The boys rounded up the crowd to come down closer like a sheepdog rounding sheep and they were an early highlight.
Long Island Sound, much like the first act, were inoffensive indie pop. Their backdrop of beautiful scenery images reflected their sound. I don’t want to just label them as another run of the mill festival act, but their sound was more music to sleep to than music to dance to…it’s not a bad thing but not suited to the midday heat. The Jezabels were on everyone’s list of bands to see today. Hayley’s voice is simply spectacular. The band’s growing popularity is backed by their powerful live set. It’s hard to not like them. Mace Spray saw an unusual amount of guys up people’s shoulders, but showed the diversity of fans they have gathered. We got treated to a new track and the gracious band proclaimed Maitland crowd better than Townsville, but I suspect they’ll say that at every show on this tour!
I ventured over to the Moolin Rouge stage to catch a bit of Horror Show. The crowd were loving these guys. Even side of stage was packed to check them out. For my first taste of Horror Show, it was pretty good. Back over on the JJJ stage Darwin Deez was entertaining the kids with choreographed dances and eccentric pop tunes. Radar Detector gaining the biggest cheer as the quirkiness drew to an end. Their set was silly fun and energetic.
Red tracksuits and gimmicks aside, I still don’t care for Datarock. I just can’t buy into them I’m sorry to say. And don’t think I haven’t tried. I’ve sat through two of their sets now and it fails to impress me. Washington, however, did. Again, another outstanding voice that echoed throughout the showgrounds. Her songs are just fun and catchy and her songwriting talent is overshadowed by her showmanship and performance at times.
House Of Pain were pretty much the same as the previous night’s show at The Manning Bar. Probably not as personal, but you get that at festivals sometimes. Ending with crowd pleasers Everlasts, What It’s Like and Jump Around, which saw the whole of Maitland jump around….. Jump up, jump up and get down!!!
Gyroscope brought some much needed rock n’ fuckin’ roll to the festival. Playing festival fan favorites including a Nirvana cover, the growing drunk crowd were all over it. Ending with Snakeskin, it was a good set and kept the good times flowing. (much like the beer at this stage) After lining up forever to use the toilets I missed almost all The Drums bar the last two tracks, but it sounded good from the line! Goyte followed with a chilled set of sounds and grooves. I appreciate that each song has a different flavour to it. Whether it be Spanish, experimental, percussion based or soft pop, he is an amazing songwriter. Road testing mostly new tracks he subdued the crowd with laid back beats before the monster that has become Birds Of Tokyo.
Want a band guaranteed to draw a crowd, that will get them to sing along to every word? Right now Ian Kenny’s men are your band. Especially with this combo of The Gap , Circles, Wild At Heart and Plans and you’ve got yourself a winner. Probably better than their BDO set and one of the days best.
I’ve never really listened to The Wombats before but their tunes were catchy and they had a great vibe. Kudos to the guys who climbed the roof of the VIP tent during the set. Ending their fun set with catchy Tokyo and the crowd favourite Dance To Joy Division.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Let’s give it up for the state of Australian hip hop!” Bliss N Eso attacked the stage like three men on a mission to lead the current crop of amazing hip hop acts. And they deserve that role as generals because tonight they stole the show. Giving us a healthy dose of the latest record Running On Air including singles Addicted and Down By The River as well some older classics Happy In My Hoody and Party At My Place. The boys skills were on display with Bliss’ beatboxing skills, DJ Izm’s turnable skills and Big Macca’s freestyling all getting a chance to shine. Following on in the Moolin Rouge tent was W.A’s Drapht. Like a kid with A.D.D, Drapht ran around the stage never keeping still for a second. He climbed up speakers, stage dived (where he later apologized for the two girls he landed on) and took his set to the maximum energy level. Hits like Jimmy Recard and Rapunzel were his set highlights and the live backing band kept up with the flow and energy of the set.
At that point I was done. Spent after twelve hours of music and with the drive home back down the F3, I left on a high and it continued all the way home.