Groovin’ the Moo is getting younger every year. It is a gathering of underage topless boys and girls in butt shorts, dreadlocked hipsters and teenyboppers in crop tops. Headgear includes crazy coloured hair and Native American headdresses, one accompanied by tights emblazoned with the American flag. The sunny weather was a relief. The filth of the unisex toilets, however, was not.
Sneaking alcohol onto the grounds is, for some, a challenge that they are obliged to undertake. An individual snuck Jim Bean that his uncle gave him for his birthday in baby puree satchels tied to his thighs under jeans. However, it may have been crucial, since alcohol was expensive and it ran out early.
People-watching became a spectator sport. There were too many animals on the dance floor. Onesies included Dorothy the dinosaur, a mouse, a frog, a donkey, a pink and white unicorn, a pride of lions, a zebra, a herd of cows, Elmo, an elephant, a tiger, a giraffe, and even Pikachu made a guest appearance. I am also proud to say that I indeed found Wally.
Elisha Bones successfully engaged the early-bird stragglers. Their drum and bass have a low groove, and their riffs are edgy. The elusive lead singer, Michael Bones, can often be spied around Canberra, in clubs or on campus – specifically, last year’s ENGL2006: Modern American Fiction. A modern Adonis, with his hair flying in the wind, he complemented the music with his ethereal ululations. For their fans, “Guts” was familiar, a fun gallop occasionally heard knocking through Phoenix on a Monday Night.
Safia won the Triple J: Unearthed Canberra competition to play at GTM. Their groovy electronic dance music is an exercise in the art of sampling. Half electronic and half acoustic drum skit, it was all sampled with live keys. They have a creative sound: a well-meshed mix of dub-step electronic beats with a cross of trance to slowed down drum and bass. Every element worked separately but holistically, creating the kind of chilled out songs you can get high in your bedroom to. Vocals were in high falsetto – pitchy, but a dynamic range for a male vocalist.
MATT AND KIM
New York’s tattooed and muscled Kim, with a hair weave streaked green, and the blonde, clean-cut Matt, gave off an electric energy. Garage pop, super low-fi, it was just a drum and keyboard but the sound was massive and happy. These guys are excellent showmans. Kim got up on her drum kit during every lull, bashing her sticks together, slapping her butt to the beat, conducting the crowd and generally getting it pumping. Matt nearly jumped out of his seat and skin as he did handstands on his keyboard. He chucked confetti at the crowd to explosions on screen. Kim gave out 100 balloons for people to blow up while Elmo and Bernie danced on TV. As Jesus, she walked down the middle of the crowd on their hands, dancing and shaking her booty. Best live performance.
That said, perhaps the explicit discussion of their sex life detracted from their set. Kim confessed, “We haven’t fucked once since we’ve been in Australia. We need to fix that.” And, “I like it hard and up the middle.” It was that awkward moment when the entire crowd is the awkward third wheel.
Alpine’s music never climaxed. Every song sounded the same: generic indie rock. The most exciting part of the performance was when a man ran by screaming, “Amity Affliction was so good! Front row, bitches! Just stole some cunt’s cap! Snapback, motherfucker!”
Frightened Rabbit is buoyant Scottish folk, blues and rockabilly. A guy chucked his grey Converse shoes in the air as Security escorted an intoxicated blonde boy off the premises. Urgent beats and drums propelled the sound, and they created Canberra’s first human accordion. The most poignant summing up of the festival came from Frightened Rabbit’s lead singer: “It’s not about quality. It’s about volume.”
Tame Impala was a spiritual experience, perhaps due to being second-hand stoned by the stench of weed in the air – or the hypnotic background of Windows Media Player swirls. There was no real crowd interaction, but the lead singer was sick and huskily croaked out his songs as bravely as was in his capacity.
It is interesting that there were two international bands headlining. The Kooks were a highlight for many, playing classics that sounded more lively and spirited on stage than on the records. Jumping up on the amps in the front, Luke’s white jeans were so tight that you could see the outline of his underwear. Definitely a highlight for many.
TEGAN AND SARA
Tegan and Sara are a sweet pair of Canadian sisters with amazing voices and a diverse set of songs. They were gracious, charming entertainers and were grateful to be there, taking photos of the audience and selfies of themselves that they Instagrammed.
Temper Trap created the most complex emotions. “Love Lost,” “Soldier On,” “Down River” and “Science of Fear” are all sad songs, but the greatness of this band lies in how they still leave you uplifted. In “Soldier On,” the lead singer improvised with his vocals, to beautiful light displays. During the “Drum Song,” percussion accompanied water drums. Dougy Mandagi splashed water in complicated arcs with every beat. There was a popular suggestion that they should not have been chosen to end the day, but the intricate and brilliant jam before “Sweet Disposition” undoubtedly established them to the audience as skilled musicians all the same.
Ultimately, GTM was an excellent experience. However, the long lines to the Cloakroom could be compared to the long lines for the buses at the end of the day. There were no signs for where the buses were going to and the guy with the megaphone offered nothing constructive. I have also learnt a very valuable lesson. As a small person in a crowd that is moshing vigorously, I became a walking armrest. The trick is to simply give in and let the waves take you.
Review by TARA SHENOY and BRENT O’TOOLE