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Posts Tagged ‘music festival’

SUNDAY 31/07

Bands Seen: The Holidays, Yelle, the Vaccines, The Herd, Drapht, Elbow, Friendly Fires, Kaiser Chiefs, Pulp, Coldplay

Highlight: Pulp

I’ve never been a massive Pulp fan, but this set absolutely blew me away. Jarvis Cocker is an absolutely amazing frontman. I’m still in awe that I don’t really know what to say. The band was tight and energetic and the crowd seemed to absolutely love ever moment, shouting out the lyrics to every song. It’s one of the things I love about seeing older bands – everyone seems to get just that little more enthusiastic when they play the ‘classics’.

Disappointment: My own lack of organisation…

Again, it’s not like any acts I saw were disappointing. I somehow just kind of lost any sense of organisation on Sunday. There were a lot more acts that I could have seen during the day but time just kept on getting away from me. Such is the festival life I suppose.

Headliner: Coldplay

I really couldn’t care about Coldplay. I really, really could not care less about them. I’d even go so far to say if they were clashing with Mogwai like Kayne did on the Friday night, I would have chosen Mogwai over Coldplay. But, similarly I did enjoy the whole spectacle of seeing such a well known band put on a mind playing stage performance (more fireworks, confetti, lasters etc) and play a whole bunch of songs that I already knew. They’re a tight band and Chris Martin is pretty entertaining. The music still isn’t quite my cup of tea, but I certainly enjoyed seeing them live more so than I ever have enjoyed listening to them recorded.

And that wrapped up a pretty amazing Splendour in the Grass for me. Great music and great times, shared with great friends.

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SATUDAY 30/07

Bands seen: Tim & Jean, Dananananakroyd, Gareth Liddiard, Foster the People, Architecture inHelsinki, Thievery Corporation, Regina Spektor, Jane’s Addiction

Highlight of the day: Architecture in Helsinki

To be honest Jane’s Addiction was absolutely the highlight of my day, but headliners aside it was easily Architecture inHelsinki. I’ve always been a casual AIH listener and this was the first time I’d seen them live. This performance has turned me into a full blown fan. Catchy and energetic, they’re just the right mix of cheesy and fun while maintaining musical credibility.

Disappointment of the day: Regina Spektor

Not her performance, not in the slightest. Well, possibly. It’s hard to tell. The GW Mclennan tent was packed out. And due to some conflicting sound issues with the Mix Up Stage, being outside of the actual tent meant that you couldn’t really hear anything. I heard half of ‘On the Radio’ before giving up and going to scope out a good place for Jane’s Addiction. Disappointing, but these kind of things happen when you try to see acts with overlapping time slots.

Headliner: Jane’s Addiction

Jane’s have been one of my favourite bands for many, many years. Last time I saw them was at Big Day Out ’03 and I was a little concerned that 14 year old Bianca was just seeing them through rose coloured glasses. They didn’t fail to impress 23 year old Bianca at all though. They’re tight as ever, and while Perry Farrell’s voice isn’t quite what it used to be, they’ve tweaked some of the songs a bit to compensate (mainly Ritual material like ‘Stop’ and ‘Been Caught Stealing’). ‘Jane Says’ as an encore is always a special moment. Was just a bit disappointing to see that barely any people turned up for the set – I’d say the numbers could have matched British Sea Powers’ opening slot on Friday morning.

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So on Saturday I had the opportunity to go to Ric’s Big Backyard Festival, reviewing for Press Record Online (you can read the full proper review here). I admit I approached the festival with a lot of cynicism – from the outside I couldn’t possibly see how a festival would work at Ric’s. I couldn’t see how any of the sets could run on time, or how they could fit enough people in to justify a ‘festival’. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the festival was a success. I’m fairly certain it wasn’t sold out, and of course there is room for improvement. But I was quite surprised at how well the day actually went ahead.

No, it wasn’t the best venue for a festival. As expected downstairs was a tight squeeze (as it always is). Upstairs had a bit more room to breathe, but was painfully loud (note to self: invest in ear plugs). The outside area was a pleasant surprise though, taking up literally the “backyard” area behind Ric’s and RG’s. The area was never really “packed out”, especially during first few bands of the day, but was spacious and had a nice little food and bar area set up.

No, the line up wasn’t the best either (especially for the $75 that was asked for a ticket). It certainly wasn’t value for money for most people, but that being said none fo the acts on the bill were bad either. I was stoked to finally get around to seeing Velociraptor and Violent Soho – two bands I’ve been meaning to see for quite some time. Die! Die! Die! were probably the highlight of my day and of course You Am I were classic.

I really would like to see them try this festival again next year. Financially, I don’t know how much of a success it was, however for a smaller, low key festival it definitely has potential to continue.

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The crowd that gathered at the Alexandria St stage for Irish indie lovelies Two Door Cinema Club easily surpassed that which was there for Beach House. Kicking things off with ‘Cigarettes in the Theatre’, the opening track from last year’s debut Tourist History, everyone instantly went off. The four piece (though officially only a three-piece, with drummer Ben Thompson only listed as a touring member) smashed their way through the album tracks, with each received as well as the next.  ‘Do You Want it All’ and ‘Come Back Home’ proved to be sing-a-long favourites, and the band showed that they can really bring the energy to their live performance. Sharp, dancing guitar riffs and slick basslines were backed by steady precise, rhythmic drumming keeping the performance at a high intensity throughout. The arrangement of ‘What You Know’ was gorgeous, starting off slowly before building up to normal speed. Vocally, lead single Alex Trimble was average, sometimes sounding breathless, but made up for it in his energy. Overall, a very tight performance from the band.

Despite receiving the warning of “whatever you do, don’t go see Ariel Pink” from my co-worker the previous week, I was still intrigued to see what all the hype was about. Dressed in a red jumpsuit, complete with sunglasses and a rubber snake draped around his neck, bizarre is really the only would that comes to mind. The first song I witness had to be started again because Pink “forgot the lyrics”. Even ignoring these factors, it was still a lacklustre performance from someone who put out such a good album last year. Needless to say, I didn’t stick around.

Opening with the immediately catchy, ‘O.N.E.’ New York’s Yeasayer took the stage. An even set of older and new material pleased the mixed crowd and had most dancing throughout. ‘Wait for the Summer’ was warmly received and there was an interesting attempt from the crowd to sing the oohs of ‘Madder Red’. The energy, charisma and all around stage presence of frontman Christ Keating could barely be matched. Naturally the highlight of the set was ‘Ambling Alp’, with hundreds of people singing along to the familiar ‘look out for yourself son’ chorus, ending the set on an extremely high note.

I rushed over to catch the end of Deerhunter’s set, obviously coming in a bit too late to become engrossed in the atmosphere. Or shoegaze was probably just a bad choice after the high energy performances of Two Door Cinema Club and Yeasayer. ‘Nothing Ever Happens’ and ‘Helicopter’ were entertaining, but I couldn’t help but think that these guys were a lot better better on record.

Oxford five piece Foals took Alexandria St stage next, opening with ‘Blue Blood’ from their latest release Total Life Forever. ‘Olympic Airways’ struck a chord with older fans, and ‘Spanish Sahara’ delighted the newer ones. However, the band’s breakthrough single ‘Cassius’ received the warmest reception of all. Though their stage presence and ability to entertain weren’t exactly spot on, their music certainly was. The band played extremely tight, and can’t really be faulted in that sense.

Cut Copy have never been a band that I’ve been particularly interested in, but figured I would give them a try to see if they redeemed themselves live. Opening with latest single ‘Need You Now’, the mood towards the back of the crowd remained fairly placid. They meandered through ‘Where I’m Going’ and ‘Corner of the Sky’ before I lose interest and left to see !!! (who were basically the reason I was at Laneway in the first place). Despite the music not sounding too bad, Cut Copy put forward an incredibly boring performance.

!!! (Chk Chk Chk) could have easily done with a bigger stage, but performing inside the Inner Sanctum definitely set the mood for a party, closing off the sounds coming from the rest of the festival. Still suffering from a mediocre sound mix, the group certainly worked well with what they had. Fronting the stage with some short shorts and killer dance moves, lead singer Nic Offer could have easily entertained the crowd on his own. Delivering just as much energy as you would expect, and then some, the band worked through their dance punk classics ‘Must be the Moon’ and ‘Heart of Hearts’ as well as newer tracks like ‘Jamie, My Intentions are Bass’. A barely recognisable cover of Prince’s ‘U Got the Look’ was a reminder of just how talented the musicians who stood in front of us were. Despite being utterly exhausted from the day’s events, I still felt a bit sad when the set came to a close and we all shuffled out of the showgrounds, feet sore but spirits high.

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Wow. Didn’t think it would be this long between posts. Apologies about the delay all….not long after my last post, my internet was disconnected and I’ve spent the last couple of week frantically trying to find a new roof to put over my head. Thankfully I’ll be moving house next week and I’m hoping that the Internet will be set up soon after! In the mean time…..finally, the second installment of the Sunset Sounds review.

 

The rain was pouring before most people even set foot inside the gate, but looking amongst the sea of ponchos it was obvious that everyone came a little bit more prepared for the weather. Laneous and the Family Yah started proceedings, and you have to give them credit for the amount of energy they poured into their set.

Up next were Boy and Bear, who delivered a lacklustre set that was barely audible.  Their most popular song by far was their cover of Crowded House’s ‘Fall At Your Feet’, but their Triple J spins ‘Rabbit Song’ and ‘Mexican Mavis’ both received generous applause as well.

A great deal of the crowd charged up the muddy hill and over to the River Stage to witness the Children Collide set. The group powered through their more popular tracks ‘Across the Earth’, ‘Farewell Rocketship’, ‘My Eagle’ and ‘Jellylegs’. The band held themselves well against mediocre weather and fairly complacent crowd, but didn’t seem to try and go above and beyond their regular entertaining set. ‘Social Currency’ was the biggest hit with the crowd, as would be expected, and one of the few tracks that really got the small mosh at the front of the stage going. Unfortunately the set really should have ended on this high note, but the band launched into an extended grungy instrumental that paled by comparison.

By the time The Morning Benders took the stage, most of the crowd was ankle deep in mud. Surely this would have been a worry for the band, who were on their first tour of Australia, but if they were concerned about the reception they certainly didn’t show it. The band delivered a mostly mellowed out set, suiting the atmosphere of the afternoon perfectly. Those less familiar with the band enjoyed a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’ before finishing off the set with a sing-a-long rendition of ‘Excuses’.

Expectations for Joan Jett and the Blackhearts were mixed. Some were dying to see this legendary artist perform while others were sceptical that it may end up as a lifeless performance done solely for the cash at the end of the night. However from the opening bars of ‘Bad Reputation’, Jett and her backing band had everyone simply captivated. Her energy throughout the set far surpassed many of the younger bands playing before her today and it was without a doubt that she still loved rock and roll (and the love seemed to be rekindled in most watching judging by the amount of fists pumping in the air). Jett and her backing band powered through their classics ‘Cherry Bomb’, ‘Do You Want to Touch Me’ and ‘I Hate Myself For Loving You’, ending a set that would be very hard to follow.

At this point in his career, there’s not much to be said about Paul Kelly, apart from the fact that you know you’ll be guaranteed a fantastic set. Relaxed and natural, Kelly and Co delivery an almost greatest hits style set that can’t be faulted. ‘From Little Things Bit Things Grow’ and ‘Song from the Sixteenth Floor’ were well received, but ‘To Her Door’ can only be described as magical. It was a little disappointing that there wasn’t a larger crowd to witness iconic performer, but those who stayed were able to witness an Aussie music legend at his best.

For someone who has never been particularly a big fan of Klaxons, this is a great re-introduction. Despite the muddy conditions, the English quartet got a lot of people dancing. ‘Golden Skans’ was pulled off surprisingly well, with that vocal melody sung spot on. The group finished with ‘It’s Not Over Yet’, marking the end of the festivities. Similar to Interpol’s set the night before, Klaxons’ performance flew by with no real stand outs, and no real complaints. It wasn’t a perfect end to the night, closing with either Joan Jett of Paul Kelly would have left everyone on a nice high, but it was good enough. 

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It is a bit annoying to have the opening bands start a mere 15 minutes after gates open, but at least for the punters that missed out on the Cloud Control and Ball Park Music sets, it was still somewhat audible from outside the barricades.

New York musical duo Sleigh Bells brought their unique brand of dirty electro to the ever growing crowd at the River Stage, but something just didn’t seem right about the whole situation. The sun was out (practically the only bit of sun we would see for the remainder of the festival) and the humidity was high, but the pair looked and sounded dwarfed by the size of the stage, perhaps more suited to a smaller, indoor venue. Fans towards the front of the stage seemed to enjoy the set, but from further up the hill the music fell flat.

The atmosphere was a lot better over at the Gardens Stage for the remainder of Hot Hot Heat’s set. The band put on a very tight performance, and while older fans mused that they ‘weren’t what they used to be’, they certainly entertained the crowd with a mix of both old and new material.‘21@12’ and ‘Goodnight Goodnight’ were exceptional highlights.

Up next were Cold War Kids, easily one of the most anticipated acts of the afternoon. Opening with ‘Mexican Dogs’, it was obvious that the band was out to impress.  Newer track ‘Audience of One’ got a surprisingly positive reception, but tracks from the band’s debut Robbers & Cowards were clear favourites. In an ironic moment the group decided to play ‘Hang Me up to Dry’ as the rain started to borderline on torrential. The sing-a-long during ‘We used to Vacation’ was one of those special festival moments that will surely be burned into everyone’s hearts.

Ladyhawke (aka Pip Brown and backing band) powered through most of her debut album. The crowd lapped up ‘Dusk til Dawn’, ‘Runaway’, and ‘Back of the Van’. For the most part though, the group produced a very generic and it often just felt as though they were playing the actual recording. It wasn’t until the end of the set with ‘Paris is Burning’ and ‘My Delirium’ did they start to mix things up a little bit with added guitar solos and extended choruses, taking an average performance and made it enjoyable.

The National took to the Gardens Stage to a packed out audience, bringing along a two piece horn section (trumpet and trombone). Opening with tracks from 2010’s masterpiece High Violet, the group paced through ‘Mistaken for Strangers’, ‘Anyone’s Ghost’ and Bloodbuzz Ohio’, with the horn section filling out the songs very nicely. ‘Slow Show’ fell disappointingly short, its pace dragging and feeling very sludgy and unrehearsed, but was immediately forgotten after the absolutely amazing rendition of ‘Squalor Victoria’. The beautiful piano opening of ‘England’ set a gorgeous mood against the pouring rain, while older tracks ‘Abel’ and ‘Mr November’ pumped up the energy to help bring the set to a climactic finish. Closing with ‘Terrible Love’, singer Matt Berninger jumping from the stage and running out into the audience causing absolute frenzy as everyone around sung along to the powerful chorus, ‘It takes an ocean not to break’ – a remarkable finish to an amazing set.

By the end of The National’s set, the rain was pelting down. This made watching, and listening to for that matter, the end of Public Enemy’s set virtually impossible without battling the crowd and the mudslide of a hill.

Most of the crowd began to disperse before Interpol’s set even began, with the rain beginning to take its toll on punters and the grounds. Musically the quartet was tight, something that you would expect from a band held in such high esteem. Unfortunately they seemed to rely solely on the fact that their songs are good and that they can play well, proving to be far less interesting to watch than many of the acts of the day. The set list was strong, beginning with the two opening tracks from last year’s self titled album – ‘Success’ and ‘Memory Serves’ – making them immediately accessible to newer fans before launching into a string of songs from 2004’s Antics. There were no particular stand outs, but on that same note there were no particular duds either. The set went off without a hitch, but ended with a disappointing linger that suggested the possibly of an encore before the music and lights came on. It was an anti-climactic end to an average performance.

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