Groovin The Moo 2011

By Chris Mitchell.

Groovin The Moo is an interesting concept. It shuns the major cities, preferring instead to focus on regional centres. This in itself invites a different sort of crowd, and certainly invokes a different vibe.

Having said that, Groovin The Moo is still your quintessential single day festival. A solid list of bands playing on impressive stages, overpriced drinks which take a little too long to purchase, and a solid percentage of wankers.

This year’s Bendigo moo groovin’ did not really buck any of those trends. It was, however, a pretty damn good day of music.

It was a slow start to the day, with a very pleasant trip up the highway with a few equally pleasant AM beers. Thankfully, entry to this year’s festival was nice and quick, free from the problems that have hurt GTM in the past.

We arrived in time to hear a very large morning crowd saluting rising stars The Holidays. Settling into the fantastic VIP area (that’s right people, we in the VIP), the honour of soundtracking our first onsite festival beer went to Sydneysiders The Jezabels. There is a fair bit of buzz surrounding these guys, and they didn’t disappoint, Hayley Mary’s haunting vocals completely enveloping the Showgrounds.

From then on the side by side main stages it was one set of stars after the other. Darwin Deez did what Darwin Deez do. It wasn’t the greatest set we’ve seen from these guys, perhaps it was a little early, but they are always worth checking out just for the dance routines (which are eerily similar to those we generally develop at about 5am on the Pony dance floor).

Datarock played to a growing crowd containing a small army of fans also dressed in red tracksuits, and Washington played yet another festival set. What was amusing was hearing the difference in the pitches of screams for each of these two, a much more masculine cheer arising from the Udder Stage for Datarock than the only-dog’s-can-hear screaming coming from Washington’s crowd.

Headliners House Of Pain were getting us all kinds of excited prior to the set, as most of our early morning drinking had been geared towards the anticipated ‘Jump Around’ induced rapture. Truth be told, they struggled to maintain much interest throughout their set. They tried hard, but for the majority they remain something of a novelty act. However, ‘Jump Around’ proved to be everything I’d ever dreamed about. And then my legs hurt. I am not really built for jumping around.

Gyroscope and indie heroes The Drums were solid, The Drums particularly impressive in an all too short set. It was great to see Gotye back, Wally’s new album is shaping up to be a cracker. Next summer looms as a busy festival season for him.

The sun was almost setting as Birds Of Tokyo took the stage. If I am to be truthful, I don’t have a whole lot of time for their latest efforts. But I was in the minority, and I must admit they were pretty impressive. Ian Kenny was Garrett-esque as he jolted around the stage, and their songs do translate very well to the festival stage. Mass sing-along’s ensued. We may have briefly joined in.

Sun down, drinks up, the Moo crowd had well and truly hit their straps by the time The Wombats came to say hello. And they were good. Very good. They are a strong festival band, dance friendly, with anthemic songs that are fun for the whole family. New stuff was well received, old stuff was treated like it was written by Jesus himself.  A highlight.

Much like Birds Of Tokyo, I have some issues with Bliss N Eso. Mainly, I don’t particularly like them. They have a real knack for accessible, cheeky hip hop, but I’ve never been able to quite get on board with them. Tonight, however, they did almost win me over. Bounding around the stage, they were able to make everyone there feel like they were really a part of their show. All the hits were there (and there were more than I wanted to admit), and DJ Izm’s work behind the decks was impeccable. They deserved the encore, but they had to be quick, as the Moo cattle were dispersing very quickly.

And quick they needed to be to catch either of the two festival closers. Aussie hip hops heir apparent, Drapht, closed the Moolin Rouge, and were by all reports very good. However, my must see act was closing the main stages. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a massive crowd sticking around for Aussie electro royals Cut Copy. Perhaps not the smartest choice as the last band on, the much loved Melbournians nevertheless played a corker of a set to a small but appreciative audience that had just about had enough.

And then, it was over, almost as quickly as it began. Leaving was, as is usually the case with these one dayers, very amusing, slops of partied out kids providing laughs all the way back to the mighty Subaru. An overheard phone call with directions to a small, but ‘wicked sick’ house party definitely tempted, but the lure of our own beds proved too much.  The general consensus was that a cracking day was had by all, but man, were we stuffed.

Perhaps we are getting old. Crap.