Southbound Festival 2016 / Photo: Stuart Millen

Southbound Festival 2016 – Sir Stewart Bovell Park, Busselton 27/12/16 – 29/12/16

Southbound Day 1

With possibly the entire population of twenty-somethings migrating down south to Bovell Park to attend The SouthBound Music Festival, it was aN insane site to witness. A plethora of dabbers, indie kids and fans of cricket memes called the campsite home – the festival felt like a cross-section of the Australian national music psyche.

With much of the main events ramping up the next day, the first day of the festival felt like a mere taster. With a single stage playing a host to some impressive acts, it was simultaneously dazzling and impressive.

Getting the crowd warmed up, it was with undeniable talent that Thane could make the crowd move, with the crowd drunkenly dancing and head bopping to every conceivable contemporary hip hop dance since the 90s – it was clear the jazz-infused hip hop was infectious.

Tash Sultana was up next with her eclectic pan-piping skills, with the set-up of busker meeting the awe and hype of a music festival, Sultana felt like the bridge to very different, if not at times opposing, worlds. Sultana had that much of an enticing aura about her that half the festival migrated to the main stage from the bars.

Much of the fanfare was borderline fanatical, with one punter in the middle of the crowd receiving her pick – a feat that was probably one in thousand. The hype was encapsulated in that punter’s response, of overt adulation like a medieval monk receiving Jesus’s holy foreskin.

More hip hop with artist REMI hitting the stage, the sun now starting to set, his set featured a tinge of cringeworthy agony, with REMI apologising about all the artists that feature on his tracks live but couldn’t make it to the festival. He didn’t need to apologise, his rapping sufficed and he owned his set.

With a brief beer break had, the punters were then pleasurably enticed into the mixes made by electronic trio Cosmos Midnight. Going crazy at the house-eque rhythms, punters went nuts to the delicious electronic acts.

Hermitude whipped up the crowd into a frenzy, props had to be given to the impressive stage production with tantalising visuals covering the duo and the crowd from behind. With Hermitude it was really just one long house party, with each track smoothly overlaying the next.

In fact, it was cool of them to place a go-pro on their keyboard maybe as an effort to inspire the next electronic production maestro, with the crowd being given a tease of the method behind Hermitude’s madness. The end their set involved one of the duo holding an audio interface around his neck, putting a degree of more physical effort than the average Saturday night.

Gallery: Southbound Festival 2016 – Day One 27.12.16 / Photos: Stuart Millen

Southbound Day 2

The second day of Southbound was a heady mix of tantalising electronic music and grungy ass rock music. With the big acts hitting the stage on Tuesday, punters were beginning to get excited over the big names about to hit the stage.

Hideous Sun Demon impressed the crowd with their exceptional graphic design skills, covering the whole rear of their stage with a screenshot of Microsoft Word which they had produced in their tent. Having a crazy, rockabilly feel, the band had attracted a crowd which seemed to arrive from the past.

Verge Collection reminded the entire crowd young and old what it was like to be a twenty-something in WA, with song lyrics elaborating p-plates and a generic suburban lifestyle. Putting the rock in rock n’ roll, the band threw out quick-paced guitar solos and tenacious drum beats.

For those who still mourn the death of Kurt Cobain twenty years on, Tired Lion would have given them a brief remission. With a nostalgic grunge feel, lead singer Sophie Hopes gave it her all – tossing out a cover of Blur’s Song 2, if you were a nostalgic Pom who loved Britpop then you’d most surely get sucked into the first sweaty moshpit of the festival. Playing tracks old and new, Tired Lion provided a solid set.

Wearing a glimmering silver jumpsuit, Olympia dazzled with her eclectic guitar solos and old-school rock and roll. Olympia finished up with Honey, as an emotional tribute to the recently deceased Carrie Fisher.

Montaigne could win the award for the most imaginative on stage fashion, wearing a top made completely out of cardboard strips. Playing Because I Love You and other tracks off her album, she mesmerised the crowd with her quirky on stage demeanour and interpretive dancing, turning on-stage charisma into an art-form.

Watched on by a massive moshpit of tired lion-esque proportions, The Smith Street Band band kicked off their performance with Death To The Lads and threw a lengthy punkish set thereafter, with the experience feeling somewhere between a sardine and sex pistol concert.

Catfish and The Bottlemen were on the same wavelength, sweaty mosh pit was had but there were a few punters who thought they owned personal space in front crowd – PSA: you don’t. The crowd eventually reached an emotional peak when the group played 7, a song detailing the throes of experiencing a long distance relationship. The set was as emotionally self-indulgent as it was tenacious with its ecstatic rock furore.

With the afternoons feeling reserved for mosh-lovers, the evenings were given to the domain of electronic music. With Safia drawing in a gargantuan crowd, the Canberra trio mixed their set with old and new tracks, both as a presumable treat to old-school fans whilst simultaneously meeting to the needs of newbies to their music. With a resourceful crowd desperate to get a feel for the sweet, sweet electronic rhythms and coveted, silky nature of Ben Woolner’s vocals.

Sticky Fingers’ set felt oddly deflated compared to their usual rancour, be it whether it was due to the band’s recently announced hiatus or just the mood of the night, it was still admirable to see the band holding things together. Still, through the set you got the impression that the band were forced or obligated to be there. It was at the older tracks you felt closest to the Sticky Fingers’ former spirit, but to be honest it just didn’t feel like it was there.

Gallery: Southbound Festival 2016 – Day Two 28.12.16 / Photos: Stuart Millen

Southbound Day 3

Lilt kicked off the third day of Southbound, feeling like a Perth version of London Grammar – they were set apart by their heady electronic production and mesmerising music. Thanking the early morning crowd for getting out early and seeing them, lead vocalist Louise Penman described the crowd as either three types of people; their friends, extremely cooked or decent humans – I think she just defined the demographics of Southbound in a nutshell. Ripping out a cover of London Grammar’s Hey Now, the group motioned Southbound on to an eclectic start.

Local rapper Mathas ruled the stage on the poetic front, setting about raps and rhythms critiquing Western Australian society. Using an armchair as a prop for his performance and throwing himself into the crowd to wrap amongst front row, punters surrounded him in what was a messianic sight.

Vera Blue drew a large crowd and was one of the most charismatic performers to take to the festival stage. Smashing out Settle and a cover of Jack Garrett’s Breath Life, Blue killed it.

Seth Sentry brought out an exciting hip hop set to the punters. Even inviting one punter to the stage to help give them support in the tambourine department, it left only one tip for festival goers – if you want to be an impromptu support act, then bring your damn tambourine.

Leading into the evening, Lady Hawke and Phantogram both threw out some decent sets. With Ladyhawke creating an infectious atmosphere on the main stage, Phantogram where killing it under the Leftys Stage stage. An ecstatic light show of kaleidoscopic tendencies, Phantogram carried the torch and exceeded expectations and smashing out an otherwise solid, set.

Raunchy was the closest thing in a dictionary to describe Peaches, a medical dictionary that is. Emerging on to the stage with two support dancers donning Vagina masks, it felt somewhere halfway between Mardi Gras and a porn shoot. A laugh and a joy to watch, Peaches was next level Miley Cyrus, a wrecking ball to push the crowd’s limits of their observation tastes.

The night finished up with jazz-infused performances of The Cat Empire, the cheeky head-bopping hip-hop rhythms of Drapht and the tantalising electronic tenacity of Peking Duk. The Duo managing to hold an incredible sway in crowd control, telling thousands of people to get on their knees and later on in their set make a “double decker” gig – they may as well move to the Vatican and become the pope. Only demonstrating how hypnotic their beats are, in an angry flurry of confetti cannons, streamers and smoke machines – Peking Duk finished up SouthBound 2017 in a wild daze.

Gallery: Southbound Festival 2016 – Day Three 29.12.16 / Photos: Stuart Millen

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