En route to the Maitland leg of Groovin The Moo 2014, I was sure I knew what the biggest mission of the day would be. The organisers just always seem to get it right: some solid international acts interspersed between seasoned Aussie festival acts, and those up-and-comers that Triple J listeners would be all too familiar with. With only two stages, each showcasing quality tunes, how was I going to see it all?
This thought, however, quickly became “How was I going to see it at all?” While being stuck in traffic provided ample time to get pumped up, all hopes of entering quickly were lost upon seeing the long line outside the gates. You’d think by now organisers would have a quicker (and thus better) system of entry.
The locals knew what was up and many watched on, no doubt to guard their homes from straggling punters. Joining the line, a German Shepherd marked the start of a heavy security presence, and the many Jungle Giants fans who’d queued up could hear She’s A Riot sounding from the Triple J/Channel V stage.
Finally inside, a beeline was made for the aforementioned stage, where Melbourne rock four-piece Kingswood were telling the crowd just how awesome the opening act of the day were. For those that weren’t there, we were painted an excellent picture: “The Patriots were f-cking sick, I hope they all get blowjobs tonight.”
From there, I headed to the Moolin Rouge tent where fellow Melburnian Allday was doing his hip-hop thang for a crowd whose enthusiasm only seemed to grow from the sound of the Flume remix of Hermitude’s HyperParadise sounding over the monitors. The feeling was mutual, as Allday told his fans that he wanted to take their photo, before set closer So Good ended things on a high.
Moving back over to the open-air stages, American electronic artist Robert DeLong entertained a massive crowd and the festival mood really started to set in. Playing at a rather early 1:30pm, one could only imagine how much his set would go off at night, as the screen behind him switched between colourful visuals and DeLong’s onstage handiwork.
We were treated to some deliciously catchy beats, carried by a mix of electronica and drumming skills that amped up the crowd. The standouts were Basically, I and crowd favourite Global Concepts, which got many punters up on their feet, unable to resist the beat that backed lyrics like, “Did I leave my life to chance / Or did I make you fucking dance?”
Illy followed, playing a solid set despite opening with some extra loud backing music that was luckily only a brief technical issue. The rapper played a nice mix of the most well-known tracks from his 2010 album The Chase, and his 2013 release Cinematic, including Heard It All, Cigarettes, Tightrope, and It Can Wait, and a mash-up that featured The Nosebleed Section.
Kicking on strongly, the crowd was greeted by Vance Joy, who played smoothly and true to form, sweetly ringing off From Afar and Georgia. The rest of the set was sacrificed to venture over to the Moolin Rouge stage to hit up Brisbane band Violent Soho. Outside the tent it was packed, with bottlenecks forming along the route to the toilets beside the barriers.
Over-18s were barred from bringing their drinks inside, which may have dampened the fun for some who wanted to bring themselves, and their beers, closer to the action. As the band played, it was obvious that new single Saramona Said was already a crowd favourite. Finally, Covered in Chrome sent the crowd into a wild frenzy of excitement as everyone danced and sung in unison to the chorus.
Gallery: Groovin The Moo 2014 – Maitland, New South Wales 26/04/14
Photos by Jack Cowling
Architecture In Helsinki, for whom I missed the start of Thundamentals‘ set, performed many of the songs from their latest album, NOW + 4EVA, such as Dream A Little Crazy, but while the wistful Melbourne band has made a name for themselves over the years, it may take them a while to build up their reputation amongst a crowd whose preferences for energetic electronica and house music is growing rapidly.
Doubling back and again at the Moolin Rouge tent, Thundamentals offered highlights in the forms of their cover of Matt Corby’s Brother and perfect singalong track Something I Said. Choosing Karnivool over The Kite String Tangle was apparently the minority choice, as a relatively small crowd was there to greet the Perth rockers. Of course, those present were certainly enjoying themselves.
Many could be seen running back and forth between Coachella-certified Auckland band The Naked And Famous and the party beats of Peking Duk. By then, the sun was down and the Moolin Rouge stage had been converted into a dance tent. Popular tracks like Punching In A Dream and Young Bloods were lapped up by all who heard them, before much-loved Aussies The Jezabels lit up the adjacent stage. Sounding completely on-point, frontwoman Hayley Mary’s vocals soared as the four-piece covered all the ones you know and more, including Dark Storm, Look Of Love, and Endless Summer.
The night was coming to a head as UK rapper Dizzee Rascal took to the stage along with two backups to boost the atmosphere, jumping and bouncing energetically. Having seen Dizzee play five years earlier, I found this performance to be somewhat disappointing. A few new tracks had been added to the rapper’s catalogue since then and the trio jumped, mimed, and yelled to Bassline Junkie, Love This Town and I Don’t Need No Reason.
Many in the crowd seemed to enjoy themselves, responding to the familiarity of the set, in spite of how it was being performed. During Dirtee Disco, Holiday, and Dance Wiv Me, it didn’t take much to pull the crowd into the moment, as dance circles formed with people twerking shamelessly.
Later the energy was buzzing inside the Moolin Rouge tent, where What So Not were putting on a killer show. The trap beats were loved by the crowd, who got down to the likes of Jaguar and Tell Me. It was then time for arguably the biggest act of the day: UK electronic superstars Disclosure. People were pushing desperately to the front, eager to catch a glimpse of brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence.
The duo didn’t disappoint as they played from their 2013 Grammy-nominated debut Settle. Opening with F For You, A Fire Starts To Burn followed as the stage was transformed into a digitised inferno. Please Don’t Let Go and White Noise marked the middle stages of the set, as yellow and blue lights were projected all around the tent. Poison showed off their live skills and when it was announced that two songs were left, everyone went all-out to Help Me Lose My Mind.
Finally, the brothers let Latch loose on the crowd, who greeted it with a deafening roar. One-by-one each crowd member struggled to pull the last legs of energy from within themselves to dance, jump, and wench themselves up onto each other’s shoulders. It was a fitting end, with the best song of the set and possibly even the day, saved till last.