Saturday April 23, 2016 :
On Saturday the 23rd of April I made what has become an annual journey for me up to Maitland for Groovin the Moo. While it rained a fair bit the day before and the morning of, it seemed like the day was the only one in recent memory where the ground wasn’t horribly muddy. After a kerfuffle with taxis on the morning (booked one a week earlier but showed up two hours late) I arrived late to catch the end of Emma Louise and her fabulous green pantsuit.
DZ Deathrays took to the stage afterwards and had incredible energy. A great number of the tracks were from their latest album Black Rat and favoured the Triple J crowd. With only a 30 minute set, Drapht was next up and the crowd definitely filled up to see him. Spitting out a great mix of old and new, he obviously knew what would get the festival crowd pumping and played new tracks including ‘Dancin’ John Doe’ and ‘All Love’ as well as the older ‘classics’ of ‘Jimmy Recard’ and finished up with ‘Rapunzel’.
New York pop duo MS MR then followed with their slower tempo ensuring punters had something enjoyable to listen to while they had a feed at lunchtime. Following them, SAFIA graced the stage with their unique blend of indie pop and electronica. Having won the Groovin’ The Moo competition in 2012, SAFIA are no strangers to the festival and it showed as they definitely knew how to woo the crowd and played ‘Listen To Soul, Listen To Blues’, ‘Counting Sheep’, and their recent release ‘Make Them Wheels Roll’.
After SAFIA, Jarryd James calmed the crowd with a range of songs from his only album, Thirty One which features melodic tracks including ‘Sure Love’, ‘Give Me Something’ and of course ‘Do You Remember’ which reached #2 in Australia last year. After James, Twenty One Pilots took the stage. I haven’t seen the duo or really heard them before but they were incredibly impressive. The drummer Josh Dun, even moved out onto the crowd on his drum kit, held up by the people below. As it turned out, I did know the song they finished with ‘Stressed Out’ as it reached #2 in Australia last year as well.
The Rubens continued this electric atmosphere fresh off taking #1 in the Hottest 100 last year with ‘Hoops’, the 5 piece had great attendance; possibly the largest of the day at the main stage. In addition to ‘Hoops’, they played a back catalogue of their most popular tracks including ‘My Gun’, ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Hold Me Back’.
From there I ventured to grab something to eat and then dance to Golden Features, the first band I saw on the day in the Moolin Rouge tent. I’m not a huge fan of the tent setup… it gets hot, the sound stage is overtly in the way of the stage from the rear and it’s difficult to exit but nonetheless I ventured in. The producer has done well to gain a lot of recognition in such a short period of time having only broken through in 2014. The acclaimed tracks ‘Tell Me’ and ‘No One’ were incredibly well received by the crowd who were now bathed in darkness inside the tent.
After my short break I trekked back to the main stages to see Boy & Bear. The Sydney five piece was definitely the highlight of my night as they played an eclectic mix of their alt-country catalogue including ‘Feeding Line’, ‘Fall at Your Feet’ and ‘Southern Sun’.
Heading into the end of the day I watched Alison Wonderland take over the main stage. I saw her late last year at Listen Out in Sydney so I knew what I was in for, but the improvement since then just shows why she is now headlining major festivals like this. Now a veteran of the festival scene, she showed the biggest crowd of the day why they’d paid $100 to be there, to have a good time listening to their favourite artists. Of course, her catalogue is limited, but the tracks off her EP and subsequent album Run have received so much airtime on Triple J and commercial stations you would be hard pressed to find someone at the festival that didn’t know half of the songs she played.
After, I managed to catch some of Ratatat to end the day. I’d looked forward to seeing them play since I saw them announced on the line-up and they played extremely well. However, I couldn’t help but feel that the tent where they were playing wasn’t suited to their musical style and would have preferred them to be outside.
Groovin the Moo is a very mature festival and they’ve worked out the kinks so well that the entire day ran smoothly from start to finish and has only gotten better over time. It’s very safe to say that I will be back to GTM again and again; of course depending on if I can jump in quick and get one of the well sought after tickets!
Reviewer: Andrew Scott
Photographer: Caitlin Schokker