walk the moosical plank
Groovin’ The Moo @ Maitland Showground, Maitland NSW Australia 28/04/2018 written by Brendan Lewis.
All aboard! All hands on deck for this ship of the damned, venturing through the open sea of people for Groovin’ The Moo, which has now arrived in Maitland to plunder it’s showgrounds of musical treasures! This ship be damned with a crew of scallywags like UK rock legends Royal Blood, Aussie rock guru’s Paul Kelly and Grinspoon, metalcore heavy-weights The Amity Affliction, new indie-pop/rock favourite Dean Lewis, indie-electronic/pop bombshell Vera Blue and a ship-load more!
Argh, full-speed ahead! BAHAHAHAHA!!!...
As I prepare myself for this voyage, no doubt there’ll be clashes between scallywag crewmen (artists) with how over-flowed this line-up is, and previous experiences with colossal line-ups such as this, so I suspect my time on-board may be profusely conflicted. To my disbelief however, there is absolutely NO clashes in ALL the artists set times that I hoped to witness today. It seems the crew haven’t been assigned their positions on-board the days’ timetable according to their hierarchy of commanding popularity like expected (most popular at the end of the day), instead the commanding officers are spaced out throughout the day to keep the scum on-board in-line.
My voyage is delayed a little, thanks to shipyard crew (security) all not having a clue as to where the most accessible place to be dropped off is and all struggling with the masses of rowdy pirates docking this ship (festival). Never-the-less, I have arrived on-board in time to catch the tail end of Baker Boy’s storm of hip-hop energy on the left-hand main stage. For what Baker Boy’s sound and performance is, it’s quite high-calibre and well presented, whether it’s your preferred cup of rum or not. After Baker Boy’s engaging attention drawing performance which leaves the already substantially full crowd wanting an encore, it’s time to head down Ocean Alley on the right-hand main stage.
It’s only 12:40pm and already the area is filled to the brim with party-pumped pirates, stretching as far as the eye can see….. Ok I’ll level with you, that’s not very far in my case, but you get the picture. Even at this stage in the day, securing a semi-decent viewing spot was a challenge, but who doesn’t like a challenge right? Be that as it may, Ocean Alley bring the energy level up dramatically with their unique and enticing blend of pop, rock, reggae and blues. The sound is without fault from both the band who dish out a perfect flow of hits that get the whole crowd singing along, and from the sound mixer, which comes across like a smooth fresh breeze to start the journey off splendidly.
After taking notes and trying to analyze Ocean Alley’s set while the left side of my body is grinded like pepper, from a suspiciously happy young lady, who I just pray to the gods of the sea is over 18, I swim through the sea of people to the undercover Moo-lin Rouge stage in time (thanks to the well-crafted timetable), for the sassy Lady Powers of Vera Blue, and her Regular Touch of anthemic dance grooves. Sadly, the sound mixer at this stage hasn’t done as well as over on the main stages for Ocean Alley, which is rather disappointing like realising the rum’s all gone… “Why is the rum, always gone?”. Vera’s anthemic sound is dominated heavily by bass, drums and her vocals, and leaves the rest of the melodic layers caught in a rip-tide of uneven sound. Still, Vera entertains the ocean of body heat under this tin roof like a pro regardless.
Now that we’re all hot and sweaty from Vera’s hot performance under the heat-trapping tin roof, and Vera’s alluring outfit which my friend describes to me, I have a bit of time to splash around, which is lucky because all this sweat and hustle and bustle in crowds including an obviously over-intoxicated guy walking straight into me head on, means I think I should visit the first aid tent to get a medical device re-secured on my arm. Heading over to the first aid tent, the crowd seems quite rowdy and I suspect are already thoroughly intoxicated despite the early hour, which makes navigating the area quite stressful, and is starting to make this cheeky pirate a bit grumpy. What isn’t now helping the case, is the first aid tent being over-packed with people feeling a bit seasick, likely thanks to that intoxication I suspected, which paints a pretty good picture of the attitude of people here. This unfortunately means that staff are run off their feet and take a while to even simply wrap a bandage around my device quickly, and now I need to rush over to the main stages for Dean Lewis and Portugal The Man.
Seeing as the vast ocean of intoxicated sea-creatures has intensified for Dean Lewis and the proceeding artists after at the main stages, I feel the challenge to venture to a safe and suitable standing spot at the stage to make use of my limited sight, will likely be a stressful one that would result in my defeat, so instead, I’m going to take post on dry land here in the VIP area near-by, and sip on a rather unintentionally suited for this theme, Captain Morgan’s spiced rum like the pirate I am.
The musical tide here at the main stages is getting quite choppy, and is giving my ears whiplash, as the sound changes from one genre/vibe to the next, making my ears feel like a rickety ship being thrown from side to side in a storm. Dean’s sound and flow is beautiful, heartfelt, and pure in an indie-pop/rock blend, which is so nice hearing Dean’s music being brought to life with a band, rather than an acoustic solo show the last time I saw him, which was exquisite, but would’ve left a gaping hole in the day’s energy I think. The musical current is steadily intensified, with Portugal The Man’s high-energy, dramatic alternative rock punches, then BAM! We get thrown around musically by Tkay Maidza, Winston Surfshirt then The Amity Affliction, Grinspoon, Lady Leshurr, Paul Kelly and Royal Blood.
Before my ears brave the immanent musical storm brewing on the main stages, my friend needs to find an ATM (which he could not), so let’s get the oars out and row through the depths of the festival. The night sky has fallen and as if the crowd weren’t enough of a pain in the ass as it was earlier, now is a whole new walk of the plank and I reckon some of these rowdy sailors should be thrown overboard by security….. I’m getting too old for this ship. What’s worse is unless my friend can’t follow a map, everything (stages, food, bars, merchandise etc) seems scattered all over the place without any reasonable method to the madness. But wait, there’s more! Returning to the VIP area near the main stages, I realise that I can hear bass from the other stages, indicating that the three stages aren’t spaced out enough in the open field of the showgrounds, which is a little frustrating when you’re, you know, trying to enjoy one particular performance or another.
That musical storm that was brewing has now arrived, so luckily I’ve got my Captain Morgan’s and a seat to brave this storm. Tkay Maidza brings Nicki Minaj-like electronic hip-hop rollers, which make my musical palate cringe, but my analytical side can appreciate her talent and charisma which is going down nicely with the crowd. Winston Surfshirt brings a flood of coffee shop vibed jazz/hip-hop/soul, featuring a little too prominent, horns sound, smooth dual male/female vocals, warm organ riffs and Winston jumping around the stage like a deranged lunatic. Hold on tight, because if that change from one extreme to the next was one thing, The Amity Affliction is up now with their thunderous metal-core bites! The sound mixer today for these two stages has done well so far, but for the extreme change in genre/style, I think is starting to float off course a bit. The set starts off with the focus very much on drums and clean vocals, where as the growling vocals and guitar/bass don’t seem to be on the same level sound wise. Luckily for whatever reason it may be, this is improved a bit heading deeper into the raging musical storm the band are brewing, but still not perfect. Nevertheless, the crowd is going wild and moshing violently, so good thing I didn’t follow my friend into the sea of scallywags! The storm eazes slightly with Grinspoon and their iconic Aussie rock hits spanning decades which the sound mixer has pulled rank for this set, then CRASH! The musical ship gets thrown viciously by Lady Leshurr. Even my fair and reasonable analytic mind is struggling for this one, the electronic/dance sound would be decent and passable if it wasn’t stopping and starting all the time, going off in all sorts of sporadic directions like Jack Sparrow’s compass, plus polluted with WAY too many party-horn sound-effects between sporadic changes every thirty seconds or so. As a result the crowds’ hype has died a little.
Now, at last, our destination of musical treasures is in sight….figuratively, with the quartermaster Paul Kelly, and the tyranny musical-pirate himself, Black Beard… I mean, Royal Blood. Paul Kelly is a risky play at this young-patron dominated festival but he pulls it off! The sound is perfect, great blend of instruments, but the flow of his set is a bit off as far as energy flow is concerned. Finally, bestowed upon us now is Royal Blood, the saviours of rock! My friend informs me that the masses of scallywag pirates are starting to exit the festival or go to the other stages half way through the bands’ set, which is a massive shock to me, as the band belt out high energy rock n’ roll power-surges from start to finish! It really is amazing how just two lads from the UK can emulate a full band sound, with just effect pedals on the bass guitar to create electric guitar sound simultaneously, sharp vocals like a pirates’ sword, and drums. It’s little wonder why these guys are so highly raved about, and apart from a little too drawn out grand finale, was an ace of a show full of killer hooks, thunderous riffs, solo’s and all!
Although there are a few more artists/bands on after Royal Blood for people who just can’t get enough, I feel like I’ve plundered enough musical treasure, and is time to abandon ship.
Are my spoils of musical treasures worth it I wonder? The musical gems were amazing and highly valuable and worthy, but the general vibe of a few too many rowdy trouble maker party-pirates and the stressful layout was far from enjoyable…. Hmmmm, I shall leave the verdict up to you...