THE MOUNTAIN IS calling

Mountain Sounds Festival Day 2 @ Mt Penang Parklands, Central Coast, NSW Australia 17/02/2018 written by Brendan Lewis.

Once upon a time, there was a magical place atop a mountain, abundant with unicorns, intoxicated sleep-deprived party animals, and an array of musical giants ….ok, maybe not giants just yet, but you get the picture. Featuring shakin’ indie rockers The Preatures, US “head smashing” indie party-rockers Grouplove, Aussie dance-groove master Safia and colossal electronic wizards, Peking Duk, all ready to assert their musical might upon these way too happy campers!

The mountain is calling, are you ready for the hike?

After a lengthy delay thanks to a miss-informed traffic control guard, I’m finally here, and ready to explore the area and “see” what I can find, before my musical quest is initiated with fiery-hot new indie-pop/rock favourite, Ali Barter. Excitement, body odour, and patrons are high, with the festival filled with campers on their second day and newly arrived punters, open mindedly checking out the local talents on early in the day. Navigating the area is surprisingly easy, thanks to the simple logical lay-out of the three stages, well spaced away from each other to avoid sound clashing (one of which being the hollowed out side of a bus), bars, food, toilets and market stalls, plus a concrete path connecting most destinations and minimal un-even ground despite it being a parkland.

Now to sample a cup of cider from one of the many bars, for analytical purposes only of course, and get comfy… ish, for Ali Barter on the Unicorn Stage. I’ve seen…. heard, Ali live before, and this time it seems as though she is still a bit withdrawn and possibly warming up for the first two songs, but after that, her assertive music and easy-to-love vocal precision really catches the rather large audience’s attention that she’s drawn, and does indeed light them on fire with enjoyment and excitement, and leaves everyone asking her to please stay for more!

Now to sample a cup of cider from one of the many bars, for analytical purposes only of course, and get comfy… ish, for Ali Barter on the Unicorn Stage. I’ve seen…. heard, Ali live before, and this time it seems as though she is still a bit withdrawn and possibly warming up for the first two songs, but after that, her assertive music and easy-to-love vocal precision really catches the rather large audience’s attention that she’s drawn, and does indeed light them on fire with enjoyment and excitement, and leaves everyone asking her to please stay for more!

After having a chat to Ali, I think now would be a good time to investigate food options and sample another cup of cider… simply to critique of course, before Izzy-Man Freddy Mercury a.k.a “the shimmy-shaker” of The Preatures takes to the Unicorn Stage. As I wander up to the food area, Kirin J Callinan seems to be riling the crowd up with his more than big enough electro-beats, mixed with indie elements and warm, yet edgy vocals. Although I can’t see the performance, it’s sounds very energetic and a good energy lift for the afternoon! On my travels to the mystical land of food, we come across a unicorn…. what the f*** was in those ciders? My friend then points out that it’s just a statue…. phew! Apparently this magical land (more magical for some wild patrons, judging from the numerous items left in the porta-loos) is littered with statues of varying creatures. Exploring the limited food options, you know the usual festival menu, I find a surprisingly decent burger for a festival, which luckily accepts Eftpos like all outlets here apparently, because this stuff ain’t cheap and I don’t carry a lot of change!

The Preatures have drawn a pretty substantial crowd of hyped up mountain animals, and get everyone bopping, groovin’ shakin’ and singing along to the great blend of tracks from their back catalogues, flowed well for differing energy levels throughout the set. Luckily, the sound mixer today has done quite a good job with the mix, and like Ali Barter, Izzi’s vocals are clear, yet ferocious in dynamics and exciteful confidence, which don’t waver even with Izzi shakin’ her thing like a crazy blur (to me at least). A well positioned contrast in the shimmy-shakin set, is heartfelt feel-good track ‘Magic’, to tone down the heat a little, which features accompanying vocals from Barnsy’s daughter, who’s name escapes me now.

It’s now time for Izzi and I to shimmy on over to Grouplove’s set! I may be new to their tunes, but their live performance catches my attention straight away, with their “big-ass hooks” playful melodies fun, exciting male/female dual vocals, and party vibe’s! It’s definitely going down really well with the crowd, the band have the audience singing along and jumping around like crazy from what I can see and from what my friend describes to me. Grouplove’s set is a perfect mix between the indie-rock that sober people pay attention to and really appreciate and get in to, and the thumping dance-beats and energetic party anthems that go down especially well with people starting to get a bit loose and “jolly”, as it is drawing nearer to the night’s fall, and the mountain air is getting a bit rowdier.  Hmmm let’s see if I can nab Grouplove for a quick chat about that insane party-pulsin’ show!

Amongst the various statues around the parkland, there appears to be an ACTUAL pig! …..oh wait, no that’s just a security guard who wants to make life hard for me, simply because he has the power to, and has always had an issue with me for some reason. Because of this, I’m going to sample another cider….. simply because I’m a thorough journalist of course! Throughout the day, I’ve noticed that all the artists that interest me even slightly, seem to be exclusively on the one stage, which means less back-and-forth running around for me luckily, but unfortunately with all the high-calibre acts being back-to-back on the Unicorn stage, it doesn’t really leave me with any time nor incentive to check out local acts on the other stages sadly.

Yep, I’ve come to the conclusion at last that those cider’s were rather good and quite satisfying!  For the rest of the festival, now that the summer night has fallen and the parklands are buzzing with buzzed nocturnal party-animals glowing with excitement (clearly artificial for some), brings out the electronic/DJ giants, Motez, Safia and finally the all-mighty Peking Duk. I’m not a fan of Motez, as solo DJ’s tend to bore me at a live gig, as infectious as their rave beats are, but from an impartial prospective, is quite suitable for the evolving atmosphere and vibe. Safia on the other hand, keeps the excitement blazing with the beats that Motez left, but Safia actually sings and from what I can see, actually features instruments, to spawn the electronic sounds, which is my kind of electronic music that I can get down to! With Safia’s delicate yet strong vocals, it rides the nights’ hype perfectly! Peking Duk too makes good use of instruments and not just DJ spinners if at all (there’s too many wild lights going on for me to see who’s on stage even through a zoomed in camera). Peking Duk engage with their audience and feed off the glowing blaze of energy from them brilliantly, and they bring Safia plus at least one other female vocalist on stage for select songs which is far more exciting than recorded vocals on a backing track I reckon! (the cheers from the audience indicates they agree). All in all, Peking Duk’s performance is definitely headline-worthy, and the reason for their huge success is clearly evident, and even I quite enjoy it!

Apart from that pig, I mean security guard, making my life difficult, I really enjoyed myself today, and am surprised I didn’t have any issues with the amount of intoxicated patrons on only god knows what! The grounds were easy enough to navigate, the sound was clear for all acts, and the  musical calibre was high! Looking forward to next year!