Live Review & Gallery: Groovin The Moo – 6/5/2017 – Bendigo


Live music: Check. Fuckboys with dreadlocks: Definitely check. Face jewellery & culturally appropriating bindis? Yep, check. Sensational dresses and outfits that what they lack in practicality, make up for in sheer style? Double check. Long and arduous lines? Check!

Yup, there was no mistake to be made; I was most certainly at Groovin the Moo in the rural city of Bendigo on the sunny but soon-to-be-rainy Saturday that was May 6th.


I meandered through the gates of the Prince of Wales Showgrounds as one tired and worn out mess of a human being after a big week personally. I lugged my backpack over to the cloakroom line which though not as monolithically long as I had first expected, was moving at the pace of a small snail if said snail had been crushed to death by a five-year old’s crocs; which is to say, there was some movement to be seen but only in rare, flinching moments that were gone as soon as they had come.

In the distance, mere sounds of opening act Birdz were could heard yet I could hardly make any of it out from my current spot in the line. Not before long, I heard zero sounds coming from the main stage area as Birdz departed the stage, leaving me absolutely none the wiser as to what they sounded or looked like. “It’s still good, it’s still good. I’ve only one missed band”, I say to myself profusely. It was then that Tusk took up their instruments and began playing. At least, I think it was Tusk. I’m going to have to trust the programme here because by the time my bag had been cloaked and sorted and I had made my way over to the stage, they were nowhere to be soon.

So my first thing to offer in this review is an apology to those two bands for missing their sets: sorry.

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Sorry again Birdz.

Anyway, on the show went!

Taking to the “Cattleyard” stage next were Methyl Ethyl, a band I had absolutely no pretext for whatsoever. But as they take to the stage, I find myself laughing for, you see, their lead singer looks like someone has face-merged Tom Cruise and Eddie Redmayne into one gloriously beautiful human being with wild, uncontrollable hair. It’s a funny first thought but when the band begin to play, I stop laughing and stand to attention. Their performance is finely and astutely well-tuned as they barge through a set of indie-rock bangers. They blend synthetic textures and ambient soundscapes with punctuating guitar tones and driving drum grooves in a fantastic manner. Though their stage presence wasn’t of the highest calibre, they delivered superbly on the music side of things. The day was off to a nice start with this fine little musical discovery for yours truly.

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Next up on the Triple J stage was the one and only Allday. Or, if you’re an intellectually proficient and “true fan”, you’d know him better as simply “Tom”. But for the sake of this review, we’ll just call him Allday.

I was pretty hyped to see Allday as I had always heard great things about him from my friends and the always trustworthy tool that is the Internet. But as he launched onto the stage to a roar of cheering fans, I felt a little… lost. I didn’t know the first few songs he opened with and that’s normally fine as that was the exact case with Methyl Ethyl. Yet I felt lost because I just didn’t get it. I had heard all these great things about his energy and his charisma and his performance skills yet I watched on as he walked back and forth on the stage, half rapping half mumbling over his backing track and all I felt was a real lack of true connection.

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Yet what was interesting was when he kicked it into a song called ‘Right Now’ – a song I’m very familiar with – and the situation shifted. I was really fucking into it now! Things started to click into place, but when he launched into another song I didn’t know, it all came undone again. It’s fascinating, how much our prior context to the songs being played affects how we really see the performer’s overall stage show and presence. For my familiarity played a huge role in how engaging his show was. Despite this fluctuating rollercoaster of feelings, I will say that ‘In Motion’ was just incredible live.

Another mystery act that was up next for my viewing pleasure was K.Flay.

To describe her music simply would be to say: it’s really fuckin’ cool! There’s this eclectic mix of drum and bass ideations with supplemented rock instrumentation that moulds these pulsating synth beats and build-ups into huge choruses and in-your-face arrangements. It’s hazy and messy and it works really well. I’m not too sure how this translates into it all coming out of my iPhone but here today in the live setting there was a lot of great energy and captivation to be had and felt for K.Flay’s set.

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Miss K.Flay.

I mulled around the back of the main-stage area prior to Against Me! taking the stage and spoke with a friend about our strong desire to see them play ‘I Was A Teenage Anarchist’. Then, low and behold, as the Florida band take to the stage they launch into that very song to kick off their set. And hot damn was it good! I’ve listened to ‘I Was A Teenage Anarchist’ possibly a thousand times over and yet to see it presented live with all the passion and emotion fully intact from the people who wrote it was something quite special indeed.

Against Me! played to their crowd very, very well in that they rarely left any moments of silence to take shape, running the risk of possibly losing audience members. They would go right from the closing riff of one song right into the opening groove of the next without so much as batting an eye. It was a clever way of playing to a festival audience; an environment when you could lose eyes and ears to another stage or activity in a heartbeat. And even when frontwoman Laura Jane Grace would speak to the crowd, it was brief and to the point over a small riff or a simple drum beat. This was also done right before they played one of the other set highlights: ‘Unconditional Love’. The song itself feels like a punk cover of a Bob Dylan track and Against Me! nail that vibe and tone so damn well. But it didn’t even come close to the closer of their forty minute time slot: ‘True Trans Soul Rebel’. Probably Grace’s most emotional and honest song to date, it’s a beautiful send-off for the band and one that I truly hope leaves a lasting impression on audience members who might not be as familiar with this band.

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Moving from my residence at the two main stages, I head on over to the Moolin Rouge tent to catch Brighton’s finest metalcore act: Architects. The large crowd that had gathered cheered with glee as the five English lads walked onto the stage and loudly kicked off the affairs with ‘Nihilist’, a crushing and brutally impactful song. It’s no holds barred set from here on in as the heaviest band of the whole day make a powerful statement with that as their opener: we are not here to do things lightly!

These Colours Don’t Run’ was as crushing as it always has been whilst ‘Broken Cross’ got every single person moving, whether they were, spin kicking, or just simply tapping their toes, bobbing their heads or bouncing off their feet. It was, of course, the final two songs, ‘A Match Made in Heaven’ and the epic ‘Gone With The Wind’, that proved to be set highlights. As some of Architects best work to date, vocalist Sam Carter punctuated the emotion and intensity of these songs by preluding them with a speech about their late guitarist Tom Searle, who served as the main songwriter for the band and whom sadly passed away last year. We the crowd, in response to this sight, impassionately chanted out “Tom! Tom!”. Even from my view near the back, I could see the sheer emotion well up in the band up on-stage as it did within myself, and these final two songs ended the set perfectly.

Architects are a well-oiled machine, no doubt about it. They play with so much skill and prowess that you can’t help but be amazed. They then pour their hearts and souls completely into the music too as the love and the life for the songs bleeds out of them and into us, creating this fantastic electricity in the room. Looking around, you could tell from people’s faces that they were impressed. The same people that I had seen grinding down to Allday were either in mosh pits or were transfixed on the band’s performance. When you can break down those genre and scene barriers like Architects do, it’s a sign that you write and perform objectively great music.

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Sam Carter of Architects.

It was with that emotional turning point of the entire day for Architects’ set that I headed back around to the two main stages just as Melbourne’s own The Smith Street Band opened with ‘Forrest’ to announce that their set had begun. Followed closely by ‘Birthdays’ and ‘Ducks Fly Together’, the band were off to an amazing start, playing their strongest material across the set; all being songs that are not only huge, catchy tracks but also being some of my personal favourites from their discography too. Score!

The Smith Street Band’s music translates extremely well into a live setting. They retain a lot of the same “human” qualities that their records capture and they then amplify the intensity and passion behind it two fold. There’s a slight lull for my personal taste as they play tracks like ‘Shine’ and ‘Surrender’ but they finish it all off nicely with ‘Death to the Lads’ (which had an incredible sing-a-long, holy shit) and of course, ‘Throw Me In The River’.

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Wil Wagner, smiling politely.

Due to Tash Sultanna pulling out due to a vocal cord issue, Amy Shark found herself playing to the main stage crowd at four o’clock in the afternoon. Her relaxed and chilled out blend of indie and electropop was beautiful and transcending… well, when I could hear it. I mean this in all seriousness, but the chattering and the noise from the conversations going on around me were quite literally over-riding the music at various points. And with everyone situated like sardines in a can, it was what one had to live with for this set so I’m not that mad. Just wrong place wrong time for me, really.

Thankfully, my personal favourite of hers, ‘Weekends’, pushed loud enough to overcome the noise around me and I could love that song the way it was meant to be loved; with it pushing peripheral sounds away for mine (and many others) full attention. However, and thankfully, the talking cut-out instantly the second Shark began her monolithic hit, ‘Adore’. Everyone in the crowd sang along a beautiful harmony to this love-sick indie hymn. It was a rare yet lovely moment where you could just feel that everyone was on the same wavelength and in the exact same head space. And I wouldn’t expect Amy Shark to do any less with that song!

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Amy Shark.

At this point, I decided it was time to finally face my fears of the day and head to the toilets and deal with whatever sight faced me there. What did end up facing me was the back of people’s heads as I queued up for an absurd amount of time for a basic human function. By the time I managed to get inside a cubicle I was greeted with the lovely sight that the previous person had not flushed…  and man, it was a doozy.

First off, who actually shits at a music festival? That takes some real courage, I’ll give them that, but the hygiene of these toilets is simply non-existent. And secondly, I mean, come the fuck on! It is not hard to step on the damn lever and watch your own bodily waste get sucked away from sight. If anyone HAS to do it, it should be the person whose body produced such a sight. Not me; not the poor fucking soul who just so happened to follow your recent position at the defecation station!

And oh, I do remember your face, girl with the flowy black blouse and skirt with a bad fake tan.

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I know you’re out there somewhere, Mrs No Flush, as I shall refer to the above individual.

Once that ordeal had been thankfully over and done with, I found myself with an hour of not really wanting to see any bands. See, I don’t like the Thundamentals (pictured below – it did look like fun) and I actively dislike and detest the music of Milky Chance. I, however, ended up at the latter’s set on the opposite stage in order to secure a good spot for The Wombats. I told myself that I could handle it for a solid forty-five minutes and it wouldn’t be too bad. God. I was so wrong. Because it wasn’t just too bad… it was amazing.

I stood watching in amazement as suddenly, the very songs I’d been so desperate to remove from my Apple Music began affecting me in a profound way. The way that Milky Chance craft their music live feels so transcendently real and organic that you can’t help but feel touched it in some way. There’s a level of authenticity to it; a frailness. Their chilled, relaxed blend of folk and indie takes on a whole new life when played live, more so than the record. I even closed my eyes at one point to just focus all my attention on the music and for a few minutes, I forgot I was even at a music festival in Bendigo surrounded by people who were literally grinding into myself and others. I felt alone with the music and the band. It was beautiful. So much so that I’m almost worried about trying to go and rediscover these guys on the record for fear it won’t live up to expectations of this experience. I think I’ll simply hold this forty minute set that the band and I shared as our sole dalliance until they return to our shores again.

Just as I was starting to feel somewhat meditative after that religious experience of a set, PNAU threw themselves onto the stage and turned things up to eleven. With a perfect blend of vocals, live percussion and backing tracks, PNAU got the party fucking started. The crowd was bouncing along to every song, pumping their fists and dancing with the most freeing sense of nonchalance in the world. The light show felt like a visual ecstasy as it moulded and morphed before my eyes in an array of gorgeous colours and imagery. Their opening songs shifted the mood of the festival with such ease and grace that it was something akin to magic.

Frontman Nick Littlemore is something of a wizard. He serves mainly as a hype-man and backup vocalist to the vocal tracks but man does he do it well. He commands the stage as he moves around and dances to the beat and screams the words with the crowd. His mood is so influential that whenever you see him excited, you can’t help but feel the same way. The set highlight no doubt went to their latest and greatest track ‘Chameleon’. What a bop! I loved it when I first heard it but never knew who the artist behind the song was until a friend told me that it was PNAU on the morning of the festival. There was real harmony and electricity in the air as we all screamed the words at the top of our lungs. That song as a moment in time proves that not only does PNAU know to write amazing music, they also know how to put on an amazing show.

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Thundamentals.

From a massive high to a deep low, I was then severely let down by The Darkness. Their less than charming stage presence worsened when they often had to egg the crowd on for responses. The music was a muddy mess of big guitar riffs and four to the floor drum beats that seemed to drag on and on forever and forever until we finally got to the end. Or so it seemed. As the band did the same crescendo to closing root note they had done in all of this set’s songs, they went into another type of outro. Then another. Then yet another one. Then! Their frontman jumped down into the crowd, did a guitar solo for another few minutes before getting back up on stage and the band just repeated that whole process again! More building sections that drop away into more fucking crescendos! It went on for nearly eight minutes (yes, I timed it too) and I never want to hear another cymbal rush as long as I live now.

But that mundane set was worth it, as the UK’s most ironically named indie band, The Wombats, took the stage next. Opening with the catchy-as-all-hell ‘Give Me A Try’, the trio set us up for one hell of a ride. Showing no signs of slowing down, the band went right on into the sing-a-long fests of ‘1996’ and ‘Jump Into The Fog’ whilst also diving back into ‘Moving to New York’ and ‘Let’s Dance To Joy Division’ from their debut. The Wombats proved that they still have the song writing and performance chops as they played material from their latest record ‘Glittterbug’, such as ‘Emoticons’ and ‘Your Body Is A Weapon’. Those two went down a real treat, eliciting animated cheers at their intros alone. The same can be said for ‘Techno Fan’, which got an incredible reaction from all during that second chorus where the song blossoms and explodes into beautiful timbres and melodies. But the stand out of the set had to be ‘Greek Tragedy’. That chorus just swallows the air around you whilst those verses are infectious to your feet. Plus that bridge is sensational. I couldn’t help but get shivers as I sang the lyrics in unison with a thousand other adoring fans, crammed together and dancing our arses off.

The shift in the crowd from The Darkness to The Wombats was insane. There was now so much consistent movement at every beat and every progression. The singing was loud and unruly and oddly beautiful, often overriding the band themselves. Though there were these things for their set, The Darkness just lacked that extra connection. Here, however, it was as clear as day.

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This guy sums up The Wombats set vibe the best.

Violent Soho arrived very quickly on stage to close off the night’s proceedings with their grunge-tinged garage rock. I grabbed my bag at the start of their set before a huge queue could form and then sat lazily at the back watching onwards as the Aussie band went mental on their “reunion tour”. It was a nice way to wrap up the day as the crowd sang along to fan favourites and celebrated a home-grown artist in such a public and grand fashion. I can’t say I was blown away by anything that Soho did tonight but I’d be lying if I said I was displeased or disappointed. Maybe it’s the open air atmosphere but I’m eager to see Soho play in an enclosed, preferably smaller venue some day. But for now, I was pleased with what they sonically gave me at the end of a long day and even longer week for myself.

I dragged my tired feet out of the showgrounds onto a crowded bus and then onto an even more crowded train and made my way home where I sit now; reflecting on the day I’ve just had. It was a fairly fluctuating one, as you can gather, and a day that I’ll be thinking about for some time. About the way in which Milky Chance turned me around on their music and affected me on a spiritual level or how heavy, inspiring and moving Architects’ set was. About how PNAU threw a goddamn party for a couple thousand people and of course, how still quite mad about that previously mentioned toilet drama.

Come Groovin The Moo 2018, I’m coming for you Mrs No Flush. Mark. My. Words.


All photo credit goes to our skilled snapper, Jordan Tan. You can find more of his killer work here and find more shots of his from the festival below!

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