Groovin The Moo, Maitland: 9 May 2015

Maitland’s Groovin The Moo was far from a parade that was to be rained on! Even its staff and law-enforcement seemed to feed off Mother Nature’s blessings in the name of music. Its lead-up was open to chance with the week prior being the wettest the area had seen in years.

Barricades separated the drinkers from those underage, reminiscent of a hobby-farm as steel fencing sank into muddy ground. The underage occasionally peered over, fantasizing about spending $10 on a cup full of watered-down garbage.

Meg Mac’s Grandma’s Hands beamed in clear sound from the stage, its lyrics in an interesting juxtaposition to a sea of young hands in the air.

Back at the more restrictive encasement that was The Moolin Rouge DMA’s inspired a ‘90s ‘geezer renaissance’: tracksuits, bucket hats and Beastie Boys-inspired infection suits appealed to fans ofTrainspotting. Play It Out bellowed across the flat paddock and boomeranged industrial riffs across to the main stage.

There was a noticeable shift in energy as hip hop ensemble One Day got off to a pumping start. A medley-style set was well received as the attention spans of festival-goers rarely seemed to sustain for a full track. Joyride may have looked like a gangster Mr T with his flat-top hair cut and chains but sounded like Pavarotti for Leave Your Windows Open, with an a cappella beginning that captured every soul watching. The man has serious skill. However, it was his version of Scribe’s Not Many that proved the climactic point of this set. The strengths and unity of the members confidently smashed that classic. This wasn’t the last we were to see of them as they came out with Sticky Fingers to do a few verses.

Sticky Fingers defied genres for most of their set, liberating them from musical confinement. A pseudo-reggae sound at times had the young and the old rejoicing. The highlight was Just For You; an extremely sweaty band played hard while lead singer Dylan Frost used his raspy pipes to play through their set-list but had little more to say to the crowd.

That lack of connection with the audience was in stark contrast to what The Preatures dished out. Frontwoman Isabella Manfredi was a woman possessed by her craft and her commitment to entertain. Manfredi displayed an untrammeled sense of purpose.  At times she seemed to speak in tongues, rambling and sounding like a gremlin. A tongue-in-cheek interactive cover of The Angels’ Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again got the crowd so amped, she placed one hand to her ear and encouraged that infamous Australian response (“No way get fucked, fuck off.”)

On leaving the main stage one could hear San Cisco’s Awkward in the distance, as people bottle-necked their way to their next timetable preference: this scribe’s being Carmada.

The Star Wars theme opened for the energetic electronic duo. As it was the eve of Mother’s Day one of their mums came out to the decks to give well wishes to a maxed capacity tent. Bouncing was taken to another level when Charlie XCX made a cameo; hip hop beats glided over a dubstep back drop, AC/DC over Run DMC; some fundamental rules of mixing were broken but you couldn’t argue with tunes that brought a festival to climax. The crowd was commanded to do a modern-day Mexican wave of spirit fingers for their popular track Maybe.  To leave all with a message of “growing up is a trap”, Blink-182’s What’s My Age Again finished the set, abruptly ending with a tapping-out sound and a nice bit of anarchy in EDM.

Musical defiance gained more traction as Peaches opened her set to a modest crowd.  Proving that age does not limit her exhibitionist side, sexual paraphernalia – a giant inflatable condom for Shake Yer Dix– and theatre rocked all notions of a ‘comfort zone’. Boys Wanna Be Her sounded like magic to a newly full tent as revellers waiting for Hot Dub Time Machine wondered what else they’d missed. Two dancers simulated the human centipede on stage. For a set with this much shock factor, it was only natural to have its master get on the decks and send everyone off screaming “DICK, DICK, DICK” while the condom flapped in the wind.

A performance filled with that much innuendo surely would make you want a $17 yiros – basically some hot chips stuffed into some grade-Z ‘meat’ in pita bread. You could find it on the way to Hermitude.Two massive blocks spanned across the two main stages and all the way up to outlying fences; it was like one of those army scenes where soldiers form perfect blocks when brought to halt. Speak Of The Devilwas the set’s highlight, complete with notable scratching skills, but with that many keen people in new darkness its energy was too inconsistent.

Back over at Hot Dub Time Machine it was evident this was no DJ of the Year, but man, his set was fun – ‘90s samples, balloon drops and glitter bombs distracted from disruptive transitions. It was sensory overload.

To finish with Owl Eyes featuring on Flight FacilitiesClair de Lune seemed only fitting. As much as it was perfection, it was a little tiring, this whole “artist feature artist” notion that was prevalent throughout the day. Nonetheless the festival’s energy and the vibe of the whole day negated any repetition. Good job, Maitland!

Photo credit: Josh Groom

Photo credit: Josh Groom

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