While walking into the festival I was regretting some life choices – predominantly that last jug of beer I should've left at the bar however I felt instantly better upon sighting the food tents. Upon realisation that Mary's fried chicken was within my immediate vicinity my hangover lost its edge. The weather couldn't make its mind up though; the hot versus cold battle saw my jacket on and off almost as often as Australia gets a new PM.
Now for the music.
Fresh from playing BIGSOUND, 'Big White' kicked off the festival with their unique brand of 80's style rock. They were cracking jokes like “So glad they have the D barrier out here” and “Everyone look after yourselves today”, showing they had good humour about the lack of a crowd so early in the day. At one point there was a declaration of love for 'a good grassy knoll' (I'm sure JFK can appreciate) before they burst into their new single ‘Dinosaur City’. They also mentioned that they'd be releasing their album in about a month.
The Lulu Raes:
With the lead singer's voice resembling that of a perfect melange of Luke Pritchard from The Kooks and Hamilton Leithauser from The Walkmen, in addition to a solid rock backing, people were up dancing within a few seconds. Not a bad effort considering it was still early and the crowd hadn't grown significantly. There was a 'nip slip' wardrobe malfunction but if you asked this seasoned ‘celeb news’ follower it was likely intentional just for all the press attention they'll no doubt receive. Damn it I'm playing right into their hands. You crafty bastards. Well played. This band was the highlight of my day and will soon be on high rotation on my Spotify.
Not sure whether it was the wind or the equipment but the sound seemed to 'Fade Away' during this opening song. Luckily the vocals were much clearer entering the second song. There was some banter on stage between the group members but the inside jokes kind of went over this punter's head. A Mary’s Cheeseburger was going down an absolute treat at this point also.
Something about this band really caught the attention of the canine variety as early into their set a couple of dogs came running into the ground. DOGGIES! <3
Unfortunately the speakers blew mid way through the set but given the size of the festival, they could still be heard ok, even right up the back.
They had a cruisy, laid-back sound that went nicely with the afternoon sun (when it was out).
My friend made an observation while they were sound checking that they kind of sound like ACDC. Shortly after they announced they are ‘the best ACDC cover band’ but only play from the Bon Scott era. This probably wasn’t the best time to purchase my hair of the dog Young Henry’s craft beer. LOUD NOISES! They declared that they are ‘the best band ever’ which led me to ponder the incongruity of this cover band actually being better than ACDC themselves. One member had a 'shred off' with a young guy, possibly of local Newtown fame but I think the drummer was the real winner. I couldn't help but think a bit of ‘Thunderstruck’ would've been a great closer but I know, I know, Brian Johnson era.
All Our Exes Live In Texas:
This was a very stripped back performance, especially following Bon Voyage. They perfectly summed up the transition by saying that they are like ‘the coconut water between beers’. Their ‘acoustic’ set, complete with an accordion, allowed the amazing vocal talent to really shine.
The port-a-loos unleashed the un-holiest of stenches on the crowd and was enough to incite a complaint from the band. Luckily it didn’t linger too long because for those of you following my hangover recovery, I'm now eating 'Buffalo Tater Tots' from Black Betty in the hopes that the oil will soak up the last of the alcohol. It's science (probably not), don't question it.
The sun is setting and it is now bloody cold. Consequently the merch stand sold out of hoodies. At this point the crowd had grown considerably and Palms had quite a dedicated following that were dancing along and wearing their t-shirts. There was a group of moshers toward the front running, jumping and pushing into each other, which led to one punter fleeing the scene in order to preserve his beloved burger. A couple of chumps lost their cans of beer in the process. On a side note, admittedly, it could be the remainder of my beer goggles talking but I didn't realise that Zac Efron played bass and was in this band. I definitely enjoyed that set both aurally and visually (thank you Mr Walsh).
The lyric “When a heart breaks it makes a beautiful sound” from their song ‘Beautiful Sound’ really made me think. It had me considering love songs and songs of heartache from the multitude of diverse genres and the songwriters that fall within them. That lyric, in the way I happened to interpret it at that point in time was so unequivocally true. The electric guitarist attempting to be seductive interrupted my moment of deep reflection. I then found myself deliberating as to whether men can be intentionally seductive or if it is exclusively a female ability.
This band is quite odd to watch, not in a bad way, not necessarily in a good way, just interesting. I couldn't work out which substance, if any, they'd consumed prior.
Just after 7pm the lead singer announced that he would play two more songs. He then got a stern word from a paper holding, ear piece-wearing official type, whom also pointed to his watch. He shrugged it off, as it was quite apparent that he had zero fucks to give.
This band with their perfect fusion of electro and rock delivered, well, Electro Rock I guess. With it's extremely catchy beat, the song ‘Homosapien’ off their 2013 album of the same name had the crowd bopping along. The drummer was too tall for the stage decoration and mentioned that ‘someone needs to do the gardening’ as the plants were relentlessly hitting his face the whole time. It was actually quite a comical situation. An aspect of their music that I enjoyed was the way they fiddled with their timing/the pauses and off beats. It was mentioned also that they're due to finish their new album this week for release next year.
During the break between sets, I spotted Aussie music legend Ian Haug of Powderfinger and now of The Church. Obviously I fangirled and got a happy snap for the socials. Best.
Top knots to the back and mohawks to the front. The group opened with ‘No Sleep’ and were head-banging like pros by the end of it. The conclusion of their first song saw the group indulge in some rockstar antics; a swig of Jägermeister between tracks never hurt anyone - probably. There was so much energy, especially from the guitarist jumping, head banging and ‘metal-twerking’ (I'm coining this term – basically he was turned away from crowd, bent over and playing in a way that concurrently moved the arse up and down). He then stood up on the drum kit, while furiously strumming; I'm going to guess the WHS officer has anxiety.
The crowd lapped up their new song ‘Uneven Ground’ and the lighting that accompanied it was spectacular. During ‘Gina Works At Hearts’ the crowd lifted a chick in her wheelchair into the air right near the mosh-pit. Old mate crowd surfer also eventually made it on stage and was dragged off by a techie. Pretty sure the scene would look like this:
After an extensive wait for them to set up they finally took to the stage and you could see that lead singer/guitarist Steve Kilbey still loves performing, even after all of this time. There was a young kid up there with them multitasking with a tambourine, keyboards, guitar and some weird instrument that I can't even name in addition to contributing back up vocals. Something I thought was great to see were blokes well into their fifties singing every word along with The Church while wearing Palms band t-shirts. Unfortunately after what seemed like a minimal amount of time Steve declared that they only had time for two more tracks before curfew but was met with great disdain from the crowd. They then deliberated over which tracks to play and the crowd grew quite rowdy. It seemed however that they chose wisely as the crowd chanted ‘Under the Milky Way’ and ‘You Took’ in unison. The band rebelled anyway and gifted the punters ‘Miami’ as their final song. Jack Ladder and The Dreamlanders were also spotted enjoying The Church out amongst the people.
One noticeable and very welcome absence at the festival was the standard thousand smart-phones being persistently held in the air at any given time. This gathering of concert-goers appeared to be in the moment; having a good, old fashioned time just enjoying themselves.
Written by Kate Carnell
Photos by Joshua Pike