Groovin the Moo Festival - Canberra
- By Ryan Diefenbach -
- May 23, 2012
When Groovin the Moo rolled into Canberra, the festival gods decided to hit the Aussie capital with its coldest day of the year. As the temperature crept to a minimum of minus five degrees overnight, even the proudest of hipsters had to roll down their jeans and cover their shivering ankles.
There were still a few girls in short-shorts visible en-route to the venue, but one-piece animal suits have never been so popular. Apparently ridiculous costumes carry the benefit of heat insulation.
Patrons must have still been battling the urge to stay in their nice cosy beds at 11am, because when loud locals Super Best Friends came to open the ‘Moolin Rogue’ stage, they weren’t met by much of a crowd. Regardless, they reeked of enthusiasm and punched out a solid performance.
Canberra’s rising hardcore stars, I Exist, had a similar situation but at least they were lucky enough to christen a main stage, where festival veterans basically soldered themselves to the front barrier. As the sun picked up, so did the momentum and by the time indie-pop kids San Cisco graced the stage, people were ready to sing and dance. They saved their smash hit ‘Awkward’ for last, and rightly so. It seemed like the tune was built for audience call and response.
As Gold Fields, Hermitude and Big Scary kept the ball rolling, it became apparent that Australian bands were not just filler for international stars but seemed to successfully and consistently hold their own. The beautiful mix of genres also provided for all tastes on every stage and fans were simply spoilt for choice.
There was also a beautiful hill within sight of the stages and that helped the tired to catch their breath and take in the openness of the venue. Whilst many relaxed there, others pushed forward in the crowd to fulfil a certain musical love interest…
Matt Corby came on stage to a huge applause, half of the massive crowd waiting to hear him play his beloved single ‘Brother’, the other half swooning over his flowing hair and moderately developed man-beard. Whenever there was a halt in his singing, there were choruses of ‘I love you Matt’, ‘Marry me Matt’, ‘Have my babies Matt’. It was like a One Direction concert full of indie girls.
Soon after, the reputably wild Andrew W.K performed as his ‘One Man Party’ act. The enthusiasm was admirable, as always, but there was just something lacking about a single man and a keyboard on a huge festival stage. Even Kanye West has back up dancers…
The mercury dropped again at sunset and merch sales shot up in turn. Who can say no to an extra shirt or a hoodie when you can barely feel your toes? Artists could have made a mint by selling band blankets.
Folks ran away from the main stage in a stampede to catch hip-hop’s newest icon, 360. Every single stage light looked like it was turned up to maximum capacity and the smoke machines churned away as an undeniable cheer met the man. Arguably more anticipated than the headliners, he laid down hit after hit. His popularity skyrocketed as he even took the time to call out rowdy crowd members and stop a fight.
Despite best efforts, there was a bit of a mood shift after 360, some conserving their energy for headline acts. A few teens literally made a fire with their timetable in the mosh and gathered around it, perhaps not just to fight the cold but to fight boredom from Muscles’ somewhat disappointing set.
City and Colour slowed down the pace but drew everybody in with Dallas Green’s mesmerising vocals over soothing folk tunes. They provided a great set but a rather odd segue to Public Enemy…
The politically strong willed hip hoppers made the stage their own. The immortals preached about peace and love between songs and with their last few seconds of time, they asked everyone to raise a fist in the air and give allegiance in the war against racism and separatism.
The crowded mass of bodies shifted ever so slightly to the other main stage and a hooded figure strolled out of the dark. Even without a timetable, you could take the quirky showmanship as a sign it was Kimbra. Launching into tracks from her 'Vows' album including 'Cameo Lover' and 'Settle Down', she began to slowly dismantle her hood and coat to reveal a sparkling gold top.
Despite only having one album released, she mixed things up with ‘Warrior’, a collaboration she did with Foster the People’s main man, Mark Foster. Even if she had only covered her album songs in order, there wouldn’t have been a complaint in the house. All eyes and ears were fixed on her entire showcase.
The mixed-bag theme of the day could definitely be seen in the headliners. German duo Digitalism brought the dance and lightshow everyone expected and the Kaiser Chiefs’ indie-rock was about as cool as humanly possible.
It seems like Groovin the Moo is one of the few real festivals left. Just like animals, festivals can only survive in cold environments if they have something special about them. In contrast to the typical Australian festival, there wasn’t an intense focus on getting blind drunk and picking up. It was all about the music… well a few drinks… but mostly about the music.
If you enjoyed hearing about Groovin the Moo in Canberra, then why not check out how it went down in Maitland, Newcastle...
This guest blog complies to Virgin.com terms & conditions.