It’s that time of the year again— when killer home-grown and international acts hit regional centres across the country, girls wear glitter on their faces ad there’s always that one guy in the cow onesie. With the first stops off the tour being one big dress rehearsal for the final gig, Groovin’ The Moo brought a huge and diverse crowd to Bunbury over the weekend to enjoy the last of the festival season.
Maybe it’s because so many of us make the gruelling road trip down (all two hours of it), but there’s a strong sense of camaraderie at GTM shows. Being out of the constraints of the city, people aren’t afraid to let loose with the dance moves and go all out with their outfit choices. The fresh country air (anywhere that doesn’t have Uber is the country right?) and wide open green plains of Hay Park saw people of all ages frolic to their hearts content to a backing track of some of the biggest acts of the moment and classic throwbacks.
Despite missing the majority of her set due to a mix-up in times, Teischa once again solidified herself as one of WA’s best and brightest musicians. She showcased some mature-beyond-her years raw talent as the opening act and as always set the bar high for a day of stellar performances. Her latest single, The Midnight Hour, closed off her set with a ‘Florence and the Machine-esque’ flair, just enough to whet appetites for the explosive POW Negro up next.
POW Negro are fast becoming a burning hot star in the Perth hip-hop community. Their gruff blend of rock, jazz and rap are addictive and a sweet alternative to those hyperactive punters who find Koi Child a bit too chilled but still love a mix of styles in their hip-hop the aforementioned ensemble have crafted in recent times. Frontman Nelson Mondlane is explosive, on both small and big stage, and throws energy into the crowd so much so it’s hard not to at least shuffle to.
Perth band Methyl Ethel were one of the first to take to the Triple J stage that morning. Some old favourites that quickly brought them to international prominence like Ideé Fixe almost had me mistaking Bunbury for Woodstock. Their ‘60s vibes conjure up images of girls with long hair and bare feet running around through a sepia haze. The smooth and soaring saxophone of Twilight Driving soon brought me back to the present though. On the back of their new album Everything Is Forgotten, the trio delivered a bolder sound than that of earlier performances. Still keeping up the haunting, airy vocals, instant hits like No. 28 and Ubu had the growing crowd up and dancing to the twisting, funky guitars.
Amy Shark is the current darling of the Australian independent music scene and for good reason. Her hit single Adore has catapulted her heights even she admits she never foresaw. When almost a whole big top is brimming to capacity with outstretched arms and expressions of sheer adoration plastered across listeners, Amy Shark proves herself a master of her stage. She is refreshingly open and honest with her audience, introducing each song with a short comment on its origins. Fan favourites Spits on Girls, Weekends and her Triple J Hottest 100 silver medal Adore threaten to drown out Amy Shark herself with crowd chants. The Gold Coast singer will undoubtedly be sorely missed in WA.
L-Fresh the Lion was a pleasant surprise I had not been expecting. The Sikh rapper blended styles from his Punjabi origins with uplifting and catchy hip-hop vibes. L-Fresh bounced rhymes off fellow vocalist Mirrah who’s infectious stage presence radiated pure energy into the crowd, while producer MK-1 made sure the beats didn’t let up. The Lion rounded off his set with a call to arms for the crowd to never back down from defending what’s right. Not only was he a positive voice for equality in Australia, he drops a mean rhyme.
Montaigne is always a welcome sight on any stage and always delivers a dramatic performance full of character and unique style. Her attire has always been of interest to me; on her headline album tour it was royal robes, at Southbound a dress made from upcycled cardboard, however today it was “PLS LIKE ME” scrawled in thick black marker over cheek and her palms. Montaigne, it’s impossible not to like you. The Melbourne singer owned the stage and the crowd proving that she has not only conquered her Glorious Heights, she has utterly surpassed them. Because I Love You saw the crowd swell with many brave punters climbing on top of shoulders, and on top of shoulders again, to catch Montaigne just a little closer.
There was a rumour that Tash Sultana might be cancelled but it was quickly quashed as the one woman musical cyclone tore up the stage following some minor technical issues. Her fingers worked their magic along her guitar as she provided a much needed chill to the mid-afternoon. Notion proved to be the audience favourite as hoots of joy rang out when those familiar notes echoed across the field. It was extremely good fortune that Tash Sultana was well enough to take the stage as she is irreplaceable.
Never have I been surrounded by fans as adoring, devoted and boisterous as those coming out to support Smith Street Band. The guys have created a family among their fan base, all of which looked out for each other while belting out the words to every song. I could instantly understand why the band, and particularly front man Wil Wagner, constantly brings in raving reviews. Wagner wins you over with his iconic Aussie vocals, genuine emotion and, without moving from his mic the entire set, his captivating stage presence. An extended shout out to Against Me!, who Smith Street credit as a huge inspiration, as well as earlier fellow Aussie performers like Amy Shark and Montaigne again sparked a feeling of community and shared love for music. “For one last momentous occasion” Death to the Lads was met with the energetic and roaring response you’d expect. This was one set I didn’t want to end.
Pnau came on when the sun was well and truly and down— perfect for both keeping punters warm in the now freezing Bunbury temperatures and an awesome, possibly seizure-inducing, light show. The guys brought on Chameleon singer Shakira Marshall on stage pretty early on during the set and thankfully she stayed throughout and featured on most songs. Marshall, with her unique voice, crazy dance moves and Carnival inspired costume, carried the set. While Pnau were tight and well rehearsed, it was Marshall that brought the energy and gave us a performance worth sticking around for. In saying that, the classic, feel good festival tunes like Embrace and, of course, Chameleon, had everyone squeezed up together dancing as best they could.
Upon seeing The Darkness on the festival’s line up for the first time I think there was shared disbelief, which soon turned into amused anticipation. Yet here they were, over from the UK in all their glam rock goodness. The challenge to “be better than Canberra” quickly presented itself, and with a deep-seated rivalry with the eastern states burning, Bunbury stepped up. It was hard not to completely absorbed as the band used the whole stage and showed off incredible musical talent that I admittedly hadn’t before appreciated. I’m not going to pretend I knew anything else in The Darkness’ repertoire, or that the majority of us weren’t there for that one song. Yeah, you know the one I’m talking about. It became apparent that a lot of people, like me, must have had SingStar in the early 2000s because I Believe In A Thing Called Love was sung back in perfect unison, ear shattering falsettos and all. GUITAR!
Over the past 10 years The Wombats’ songs have been the soundtrack to parties and breakups, euphoria and loneliness— the entire adolescent experience. From the highest highs to the lowest lows, they make you feel something. This was true of their set Saturday night and the nostalgia was real. Instantly loveable, the guys engaged with the audience and gave us everything we could’ve wanted. It wasn’t hard to sing and dance along as you were reminded of the songs you thought you’d forgotten. Above everything, The Wombats are just so much fun to see perform live. The energy and happiness coming from the crowd was palpable. Wrapping up, the band promised us a moving cover of Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On before deciding instead to end with Let’s Dance to Joy Division. Although secretly disappointed— I would definitely pay to hear that— I was quickly jumping with the crowd in a carefree celebration of life. Encompassed by the band’s full sound and overly excited by the smoke machines, this international and timeless act was the perfect end to the night.