Groovin The Moo has, time and time again, proven itself to be a survivor. While the country’s festival scene remains incredibly volatile, unpredictable and ultimately vulnerable, Groovin The Moo remains a solid staple. But it begs us to ask why that’s so, and how long it can possibly stay that way with the current festival climate. We only had to look to this year’s Maitland leg of the festival to find out.
It was a typically chilly day for the NSW Groovin leg, but that didn’t mean that acts weren’t heating things up from the moment the festival kicked off. Angie McMahon and G Flip both made sure the crowds filled up early, with the former bringing her scorching guitar ballads and the latter treating the crowd to insane drumming skills.
The sun began to beam down across the main stages as Thelma Plum and Jack River left the crowd spellbound with their stunning voices, with Holy Holy managing to help everyone wind down with their gorgeous acoustic melodies – including their much revered cover of Beyoncé’s ‘Hold Up’.
G Flip live @ Groovin The Moo Maitland, 2019 / Photo: Dan Lynch
But, even before the sun began to set, one thing was pretty clear about this year’s Groovin The Moo – the appreciation that poured out from the crowd to the artists, and vice versa, was so intense it was almost tangible. Looking around the crowd – an all ages crowd, most importantly – and seeing the amount of tears in eyes and hands on chests was inspiring and thought provoking – why does it feel like only now that this is so prominent?
This outpour of emotion isn’t new by any means, but now more than ever it’s worth taking notice of. The current festival climate in New South Wales is unsafe, vulnerable and completely exposed right now. Despite the Canberra leg of the festival having pill testing on site for a landmark second year in a row, the state government is coming down harder than ever on their method of attempting to reduce drug-related deaths at music festivals – by eliminating the festivals themselves.
And, par for the course for the whole country, it’s those in regional areas that are the first to suffer the losses. Not only are the festivals that have already been cancelled almost exclusively in regional area (Mountain Sounds being the most notable), but regional areas also have the least access to live music as it is. In fact, that’s why Groovin The Moo is so important, and why its longevity isn’t surprising – music punters of all ages rely on it for a decent fix of live music that those in Sydney or Melbourne can get every other night.
So, with that considered, you can understand why so many people were completely enamoured by the time one of the biggest artists in the world, Billie Eilish, took to the stage. It’s unclear whether the folks booking this years lineup had the clairvoyance to know that Eilish would be at her peak the time she took to Maitland Showground, or whether it was just luck, but it doesn’t matter. In space buns, three-quarter Louis Vuitton boardies and silver chains around her neck, Eilish stepped out for ‘Bad Guy’ and the crowd hung on her every word.
Billie Eilish live @ Groovin The Moo Maitland, 2019 / Photo: Dan Lynch
It’s almost unbelievable that someone’s music that is, on paper, unconventional can single-handedly captivate the attention of so many people. But such is the beauty of Billie Eilish and such is the beauty of live music in general. It’s hard to know what’s going to stick, but once it does it’s magical.
And to think the opportunity for kids to experience this magic is on the verge of being taken away from them. It’s important that we fight for live music across the state and not just in Sydney. While to big city folk Groovin The Moo might just be another festival, to those underage regional fans it’s the highlight of their entire year.
Gallery: Groovin The Moo 2019 – Maitland, 27/04/19 / Photos: Dan Lynch
Groovin The Moo Is One Of The Country's Most Important Festivals, Now More Than Ever - Music Feeds
Groovin The Moo continues this weekend in Bendigo and Townsville, and finishes up in Bunbury the following weekend. Head here for dates and lineup details.