With such a huge array of artists performing at Groovin’ the Moo, Big Scary were one of the many acts of whom I’d never heard before. But, as with all festivals, I was able to leave with a long mental list of artists to check out as soon as I got home, with Big Scary topping the bill. An indie rock duo hailing from Melbourne, the band reminded me a lot of The White Stripes and The Black Keys and offered a similar blend of rocking guitar, burly vocals and thumping drumbeats. Most impressive were their acoustic tracks that, gentle and lyrically beautiful, provided a perfect balance to their set.
I spent most of the day with three women; my sister, my girlfriend, and my female best friend. With their thumbs still sore from texting votes in for Matt Corby back in his Australian Idol days, the dreamy, gorgeous singer/songwriter was a must-see on our list. I’m a fan of his last couple of releases as much as the next person, but sadly Corby’s set seemed out of place at a bustling music festival. The ambient, subtle vocals of his opening few songs were lost in the windy expanse of the UC Meadows; it’s clear that this budding artist is better suited for more intimate settings. That said, his rousing performance of “Brother”, by far his most popular track, was utterly spectacular and one of the highlights of the festival.
Although completely out of my depth when it comes to Autralian hip-hop music, 360 was an artist endlessly hyped by my fellow festival-goers. After following the herds of people pouring into the Moolin’ Rouge tent (whether to see 360 or escape the violent mosh created by Parkway Drive, I’m not too sure), I was surprised to recognise a couple of his tracks from my rare forays into Civic on a drunken Thursday night; “Killer” and “Child”. In my mind, however, his set is most notable for his bizarre rants between every song, including the gem, “I’m not a heavy drinker, but every once in a while I like to get fucked up and I figured Canberra would be the place to do it.” His evident state of inebriation would probably explain his extensive use of the phrase “dog cunt”, which was not only used to describe ex-girlfriends, but also particularly agro members of the crowd who caught the rapper’s eye.
By late afternoon, any distant onlooker would have thought that the animals of Canberra Zoo had broken loose and rioted across the city, flocking to the UC Meadows to catch a glimpse of their favourite artists. The reality was almost as bizarre. As the temperature plummeted with the setting sun, and with Groovin’ the Moo hoodies from the merchandise stand outrageously priced at $70, shivering patrons resorted to purchasing furry animal costumes to ward off the Canberra cold. They weren’t exactly Kathmandu material – more like Kathmand-moo – but the costumes at least gave festival-goers another protective layer against the nippy breeze. And now, with cows and other such friendly barnyard animals strutting across the festival fields, the festival was able to live up to its pastoral namesake.
Dressed in a stunning, sparkling gold corset with a long, billowing rainbow-coloured cloak wrapped around her shoulders, it felt like a modern-day Wonder Woman was taking the Groovin’ the Moo stage. Kimbra performed a spectacular set of jazz-infused indie pop; the audience was awestruck and dazzled by her commanding, dynamic presence. “Settle Down” was the highlight of the set, showcasing Kimbra’s incredible vocal ability atop her grooving, ridiculously cool backing band.
Like I said before, Australian hip-hop music is not my thing. But while waiting for Kaiser Chiefs to perform, I figured Hilltop Hoods might be a great way to kill some time. However, all I can really remember of their set is the fact that they felt the need to stop most of their songs halfway through, complaining that the crowd wasn’t being loud enough before launching into it all over again. Maybe they’re too lazy to rehearse enough songs to fill up their allotted fifty minutes or, as one friend suggested, they cut the music to build up suspense, but their attitude felt disrespectful and arrogant. As a result, the crowd seemed annoyed and far less enthusiastic during each song’s second play.
After an earlier sighting of MuteMath frontman Paul Meany performing a handstand on a keyboard mid-song before leaping into the arms of his adoring audience to crowd surf, I would never have believed that another act could top such a stunt that very same day. Enter Kaiser Chiefs, or more specifically, lead singer Ricky Wilson. After roaring through crowd favourites like “Ruby” and “Angry Mob”, Wilson took the notion of stage antics to the next level, dashing off the stage during the introduction of “Take My Temperature” to strap himself into Power Surge, the stage-side amusement ride where those brave enough are spun upside down and every which way imaginable far, far in the air. With microphone in hand, Wilson didn’t miss a note, a word, or a single beat while the crowd was absolutely dumbfounded at what they were witnessing. After his feet were again placed on firm ground, perhaps a little bit dizzy, he gallivanted back onto centrestage before tearing into the closing song of Kaiser Chiefs’ set, and the festival itself.