REVIEW: GROOVIN THE MOO 2015: TOWNSVILLE
Hitting the final weekend of touring, Groovin The Moo reached Townsville. By now you would have thought the artists and bands would be fed up with Australia’s up-side-down, temperamental weather, from mud to sunshine and floods in one weekend, but thankfully, North Queensland delivered; and so did the billed acts.
The sun was out, festival fields green, drinks flowing and the music pumping. I feel like Groovin The Moo is the people’s festival; if there were a unanimous vote on Australia’s favorite festival, GTM would sweep it out. Maybe I’m just bias because it was the first music festival I ever went to, and I grew up looking forward to the yearly setup, but it really does tick all the boxes; Nice people, easy layout, an atmosphere that's warm, local and friendly. A lineup that’s wholesome and diverse, delivering acts that we all know of, but also ones that are rearing to be discovered and play to a regional audience.
I think the most exciting thing about a festival the size of GTM hitting regional cities is seeing bands and acts that would never considering touring these parts of the country hit the stage; and in turn, how appreciative the local punters are for that. Trap king, RL Grime dropping bombs in good old Oakbank, South Australia? I don’t think that was on his headline tour bucket list! It’s something Groovin The Moo nail, with the punters left pleased year in, year out.
All right, Without any further adieu, here ate the highlights of Groovin The Moo: Townsville...
With the festival kicking off extra early this year at 11am, we saw even more the locals hit the big stage and punters were streaming in early to show their support. King Social, followed by Sam Wright opened the Triple J stage, before R&B-pop princess T-Kay Maidza took over and proved why she has been hot property across the festival calendar this summer. Her latest single ‘M.O.B.’ proved a favorite, while ‘U-Huh’ and ‘Switch Lanes’, her collaboration with Paces, also proved to be a romp.
Meanwhile, over in the Moolin Rouge tent, Sydney startups DMA’s so graciously eased Townsville fans into the warm day. It’s pretty crazy to think only a year ago these easy going lads dropped their debut single ‘Delete’ out of nowhere, creating a big enough buzz to sell out a national tour and be booked around the world. Their warm, acoustic rock feel and Brit-pop-esque vocals echoed to the outskirts of the tent, with tracks like ‘Feels Like 37’ and ‘Laced’ solidifying the hype.
Running back over to the Triple J stage, it was time for One Day, the latest in Aussie hip-hop, before the big brothers Hilltop Hoods take over in the evening. This group of individual Aussie names is by no means new to the scene, but their collective in One Day has come about in the past few years winning audiences over with their genuine rap and flow, constant energy across the stage and gorgeous touch of rhythmic soul.
UNDER THE SUN
It was time the tempo picked up across the fields, with Harlem Trap Lord A$AP Ferg shocking the stage and packing out a heaving audience under the big top. The hip-hop dabbling trap artist and member of the A$AP Mob dropped a swag of big cuts from his 2013 debut album ‘Trap Lord’, including ‘Shabba’ and ‘ Let It Go’, not once seeming out of place in the regional setting, one that is probably not his standard scene.
Back outside and under the sun, Aussie indie-rockers The Preatures took to the GTM stage for their final stop of the tour, opening with ‘Somebody’s Taking’ and ‘Manic Baby.' Isabella Manfredi worked the audience with her weirdly wonderful presence, seeing the Townsville crowd follow suit when she covered The Angels’ ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again’, gaining a big response from the fans alike. They competed their mid-afternoon set with ‘Is This How You Feel’, pulling punters in from the back hill with not a static body in the crowd – such a festival hit.
With the sun setting and picturesque Mount Stuart backdrop overlooking the lit up festival site, fans filled their stomachs and moved from stage-to-tent for sets from Ball Park Music, Carmarda and UK’s Peaches.
NZ brother-sister duo Broods followed, brining their pop-infused sounds to the Moolin Rouge Tent. After the release of their 2014 debut album ‘Evergreen’ and constant touring worldwide, Groovin The Moo seemed like the perfect stage and audience to see out the end of their hectic touring cycle. The gorgeous Georgia Nott took on the sunset slot with energy and urge as if she was mid-workout, nailing those high notes and sweet, melodic chords, while her brother Caleb hid behind drum-pads and keys, keeping the set and crowd moving. It was grand and it was loud, seeing the duo win over some new fans in North Queensland, with hits ‘Bridges’ and ‘Never Gonna Change’ receiving the biggest response, before closing out with ‘Mother & Father.’
Up next, it was Sydney electronic wonder-boys Hermitude. These dudes are truly slaves to the decks and know how to create a set and live show that keeps you at 100%, constantly reminding yourself why you love everything they do. Their live setup consists of your regular Pioneer decks, old school vinyl’s for that raw live scratching vibe, and sample/beat trigger pads and drum pads, building a brand new show for their GTM tour. Their lighting and visuals complete the package, with Go-Pros pointed at everything they did, allowing you to see exactly what these guys are creating live and how they keep the flow and music at a constant. The old favorites ‘Speak Of The Devil’, ‘HyperParadise’ and ‘The Villain’ ignited the crowd, while new music in ‘Through The Roof and ‘The Buzz’ proved this new album is packing hot fire! ‘Dark Night Sweet Light’ is due on May 15th – so get around Hermitude!
UNDER THE STARS
Nighttime fell and stars covered the Townsville sky (something you city slickers often miss) with UK pop-star Charli XCX pleasing the younger side of the audience before GTM alumni and Aussie hip-hop kings Hilltop Hoods took over the outside stage. Returning for their fourth time on the GTM tour, front men Suffa and MC Pressure blew away the crowd with a mixture of old and new, pulling the biggest audience of the day.
Slipping away early from Hilltop Hoods, I reached an absolutely jam-packed Moolin Rouge Tent being slayed away by the US trap export RL Grime. It was loud, heaving and surprisingly sweaty for this time of night, with Henry Steinway dropping all the big cuts off his debut album ‘CORE’, doing something to the Townsville GTM crowd that I’ve never seen before.
RL Grime and his production team left behind the additional production value you often see with headline acts, stripping it to the bare basics with a crazy, on point and to the millisecond light and sound show, allowing the heavy genre and insane mixing do the work.
Opening with the haunting chords of ‘Syclla’, shivers were sent across the crowd with mayhem assured as he stretched the trap/reggae jam track to an extended cut. His collaboration with What So Not, ‘Tell Me’ went down a treat, ‘Valhalla’ ft. Djemba Djemba saw Henry touch the outskirts of drum and bass, while his true love for hip-hop shone through ‘Kingpin’ ft. Big Sean, slowing the set down to an illicit sway. But it was undoubtedly his maiden hit release in ‘Core’ that blew the tent into mayhem; delivering Townsville fans a set they won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
Closing out the day was everyone’s favorite, Flight Facilities. Taking off just after 9PM, Jimmy and Hugo along with vocalist guests Owl Eyes and Kurt Kristen led the crowd on a journey through their debut album, ‘Down To Earth’, one of 2014’s finest releases and more then five years in the making.
‘Down To Earth’ and ‘Stand Still’ had the crowd moving to a nu-disco step, but it was ‘Claire de Lune’ that proved to be one of the highlights of the day, melting hearts when they turned the lights out and had every phone lit up in the tent, swaying side-to-side – so beautiful. With a hectic year ahead that includes Splendour In The Grass and a one-off show with the fifty-piece Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, it’s no surprise the Townsville crowd fell in love with Flight Facilities.
With the Groovin The Moo tour wrapped up for another year, the daring kicked on to Townsville’s Flinders Social club for another massive after party led by One Day DJ’s and Sweat It Out’s Indian Summer. The late night Townsville party-kids were also treated to the Flight Facilities boys, Jimmy & Hugo going back-to-back for an impromptu set, keeping those deep disco-house vibes alive ‘till early Monday morning. As every year, Monday was all chiller with the artists being treated to the annual relax and recovery day on Magnetic Island; a day full of beach cricket, beers, jet skiing and hopefully some future collaboration chat. Another great year Groovin The Moo - see you in 2016!
- Cameron Webley