Groovin’ The Moo
May 5th, 2018
Featuring: Royal Blood, Paul Kelly, The Amity Affliction, Grinspoon, Portugal. The Man, DJ Yella, Alex Lahey, Vera Blue and more…
There are a lot of things to love about Groovin’ the Moo.
I think one of the big draw cards is the idea of escapism. The same motivator that propels festivals like Unify and Falls. The idea of road tripping with friends and into the country like you’re in a Big M commercial to hear a hybrid of Aussie and international acts is one with appeal to Melburnians. In particular, GTM plays up to this appeal because of the promise it holds of one last day of festivities and sun before the long winter.
And road trip the 2018 festival goers did. You know there’s a party in Bendigo when the usually 110 Calder is bumper to bumper with party buses. We were even treated to a sighting of a group who had hired out and decked out a double-decker bus just for the journey.
Further incentive is provided in the community feel of the festival. It’s a strange feeling to walk into the grounds, which usually hold a lovely farmers market, and see this strange hybrid of stages and market stalls and buildings belonging to the local agricultural society. It all blends together in an unusual concoction that feels like a local fete on performance enhancers. This is part of it’s charm though.
However, there are a lot of things I don’t love about Groovin’ the Moo.
There is a major issue within the culture of this festival. There is a strange divide within the crowd, between the locals (who bring that community feel mentioned above) and the mass numbers of entitled city dwellers who turn up dressed like they’re going to Coachella when they’re really just going to Bendigo.
I have been very fortunate to have attended many festivals in my lifetime of many different genres and scales. I’m sadly confident in my assertion that Groovin’ the Moo has the worst crowd of any festival I have ever attended. Of course there are your typical drunkards and people who are only there for an excuse to put glitter in their hair and take boomerangs while having a dart, but there was a sense that being at a festival gave you the right to simply go off and do whatever you like regardless of anyone else.
If you are in someone’s way they will physically push you away without so much as a word. People will stub their cigarettes out on you. People will trample you in the pit…during Paul Kelly, of all sets. And as far as I remember Paul wasn’t standing on stage shouting, “I want you to open this pit up! I wanna see a circle pit!” (as he is known to do) but clearly, we must have misheard.
In particular there was an overbearing presence of “lad culture”. I saw a group of young men consciously decide to urinate onto a fence where people were sitting. When security were alerted, they simply said, “If I didn’t see it, there’s nothing I can do.” If that’s the attitude we took to everything as a society the world would be a very different place.
Writing this review has been a very difficult thing for me to do because, as I said earlier, there are lots of things to love about the festival. I mean, I haven’t even gotten to talk about the acts yet (which were all 10/10 with rice). Unfortunately for me, the low for my day came early on when I went to the bathroom between morning sets. Here I was in this stall trying to go about my business, literally standing in human bodily fluids (which is par for the course when using the bathroom at a music festival), trying to hold the door closed because the latch was broken, when a group of guys come along, realise my door is broken, and make a game of opening the door up over and over again before all of the people in queue. This was incredibly embarrassing for me and is upsetting me thinking about it even now. These people could not care less, and as the day progressed I noted that seemed to be the case across the board.
At only 23 I find myself asking, “Is it maybe just that I’m starting to get too old for festivals? Maybe I’m just being too much of an old person? Am I out of touch?” but in true Principal Skinner fashion, I conclude that no, it’s the children who are wrong (and by children I mean young adults capable of making and taking responsibility for their own decisions).
How about I get off my soapbox and talk some actual music? I’m sure you didn’t come to read an essay about cultural shifts within Victorians between the ages of 16-25. However, I wanted to get all of that out of the way because I think it’s important that you see the perspective I’m coming from as that morning incident cast a shadow over my entire day and it was very difficult both physically and emotionally to throw myself into the crowd and enjoy the festival.
The beautiful and etherial Vera Blue was an early highlight and drew a sizeable crowd for being on so early in the morning. With a Florence-esque sound and aesthetic and a knack for drawing in teenage girls, she’s one to watch out for in the future.
On the Triple J stage, Portugal. The Man threw in some awesome Metallica and Pink Floyd covers, and Tkay Maidza tore it up and is always a joy to watch.
A surprise highlight for me was N.W.A’s DJ Yella. Watching Victorians dance awkwardly yet with enthusiasm to some N.W.A and shouting “it’s the motherfucking gangster shit” might be my new favourite thing.
It’s clear that Australian’s love The Amity Affliction. We gush like proud parents over their achievements. The only thing we love more than Amity is The Amity Affliction…but with fire. The only way they could turn it up any more is by getting a new hat. And added bonus to their fire set is that the cool Bendigo weather was starting to creep it at this point. So cheers to the boys for keeping the crowds toasty.
Grinspoon kept the party going, providing a good hit of nostalgia. Followed by Lady Leshurr who was a nice change of pace (and who sports a killer accent).
It was Paul Kelly who had the biggest crowd and therefore won the day. However, it would have been nice to hear what he was playing, rather than the people around my screeching, “Who is this? What’s he playing? Is this From Little Things Big Things Grow?” Like, I don’t know, maybe if you listened you’d have an answer. Giving up on being in the crowd by this point, I walked towards the back of the pit (not that I was able to get far into it in the first place, mind you) but unfortunately, there was an issue with sound that made it really difficult to hear and understand what was going on. It was like there was a speaker in the over 18s section that was on a time delay and unless you were either in the pit or in the bar you couldn’t actually make out the music.
Exhausted, cold and kind of done with things, we capped off our day with some Royal Blood who pack an impressive sound for 2 people. It was about time that they were back, having played only one show in Victoria at the Corner Hotel years ago. Fortunately they lived up to the hype, even if the crowd did not.
Review by Holly Parker
Groovin The Moo – Bendigo