Event Review: The Hills Are Alive | Krowera | 2018

Monday, April 2, 2018

Over the weekend, a festival held annually in Krowera, Victoria, The Hills Are Alive (THAA) celebrated its tenth year anniversary with a three day weekend filled with music, comedy, fun, but most of all a strong sense of family.

THAA is what other festivals should strive to be again — while each year it is still slowly expanding, the festival has not forgotten its roots of music appreciation, arts and a true sense of community.

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After the gates opened on Friday afternoon, the festivities quickly began with the ‘Welcome to Country’. Fossil Fuel excited the crowd with their old-school quips and ripping rock song covers. The band was full of the McLaren family, who were kind enough to run the event, and they would quickly become a staple of the weekend being seen listening, playing and being in any way involved in the festival and music.

Friday night was tremendous with so many up and coming Australian artists on the bill. Ziggy Ramo and Heaps Good Friends brought the fire and fun taking the stage after Fossil Fuel. Ziggy used the platform to send out a message of love, peace and acceptance while Heaps Good Friends had the dance-pit bopping to their marshmallow pop-rock sound.

Alex the Astronaut was a more than memorable act with Alex’s banter brilliantly drawing in the crowd. Alex’s singing was mesmerising, thrilling the crowd with 'William and George', 'Rockstar City', 'Not Worth Hiding' and included a sweet cover of the opening verse of 'To Her Door' by Paul Kelly.

The Bennies were electric, rocking the main stage as a send-off show to their departing bass guitarist, Craig Selak. It was a performance Craig and the rest of the band will easily remember with the massive crowd at the front of the stage as they played the hits off of their four albums.

Kim Churchill and Boo Seeka rocked the main stage next — both acts were astounding, each in their own way. Kim brought that classic acoustic vocal vibe to the party — and when the opening chords of 'Second Hand Car' thundered around the hill, it brought a massive influx of fans to the stage. Boo Seeka tore-up the stage with their thunderous, electro-rock sound playing 'Gold Sail',
'Turn Up Your Light' and 'Does this Last'.

The end of the evening was the territory for the electronic artists Alice Ivy and the resident DJs, DJ Safety and Real Slinger, who took over the party and kept it bumping well into the early hours.

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Saturday was opened by the smooth, poised tones of BATTS, which provided a tender wake up call for the punters who may have gone too hard on Friday night. The energy picked up with the likes of 'Cool Out Sun' and 'Jackson Firebird'.

Contributing more of a rock line-up, Saturday also included Sydney grown rockers, Dear Seattle, the soon to be breaking up Dorsal Fins, the enigmatic Timberwolf, Ali Barter with all her spunk, closing on favourite 'Girlie Bits', Luca Brasi, bringing the passion and Saskwatch with some humorous on-stage banter and exciting, funky rock.

Despite all of the magic to have appeared on stage throughout Friday and Saturday, the headliner; Remi stole the show. With his full band in tow, Remi busted out all of the favourites, with some energetic tracks including 'Sangria', 'Wild World' and 'Losing Sleep'. Sadly this would be the last time this iteration of Remi’s band would be seen on the stage together, with some moving on after the performance. As such, Remi and the crowd made it their goal through the set to let these artists go with a ‘BANG!’ and that they most certainly did. Mind-melting solos, freestyle verses and an all-round powerful stage presence, Remi’s set stood out. There was a lot of love for each other.

Thandi Phoenix followed up Remi’s performance, and while it would have been a hard act to follow, it didn’t affect her vibe at all. She was energetic, chipper and more than willing to play her favourites, 'Standing Too Close', 'Tell Me Where the Lovers Have Gone' as well as an unnamed, unfinished banger of a track keeping the energy strong before the DJs took over.

Much like Friday night, the DJ’s took the stage, with JAMATAR and then DJ Safety closing the night out with tracks easy to dance too into the early hours of the morning.

The side stage also had some compelling acts with comedians and some smaller Australian acts such as Boat Show, Zoe Fox and Rocket Clocks.

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Sunday was a day with a mixed atmosphere as much of the younger crowd left the festival grounds early for some time to recover at home.

Halcyon Drive, Manchoir (An acapella group made up of seven men), Theme Team made up of a group whose sole purpose was to play television and movie themes through the years, making up some of the excitement to finish off the festival.

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THAA was more than just music — with creative, engaging activities spread all throughout the camp, including a gumboot throwing competition on the final day, a small cabin with music and lights in it lovingly dubbed the ‘Rave Cave’, giant board games spread around the site, and if one was willing to climb one of the large hills near the camp to an abandoned old school bus, they would be rewarded with an old fifties diner and scones given to them for the effort. It was these little adventures that added the cherry on top of the festival.

If you ever have the opportunity to attend the event, it is definitely one-to-see. The acts were appreciated by all and the atmosphere was well and truly worth the trip into the country with new friends to meet and exciting adventures to be had.

Written by Daniel Hanssen (@dangigman)

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