Groovin’ The Moo @ Adelaide Showgrounds, Wayville, Adelaide 26/4/2019

The fifteenth year of Groovin The Moo (GTM), Cattleyard Promotions’ regional travelling festival, rolled into the Wayville Showgrounds on Friday 26 April 2019 to kick off proceedings. It was South Australia’s sixth GTM, and again it sold out. Breaking with tradition, GTM 2019 had no headliners despite some big names being on the bill. The reasons for this are unknown, but ultimately it did not appear to make a difference one way or another.

Once punters got through the multiple lines of warfare security (who were actually delightful to deal with) and navigated the heavy police presence there was a bevvy of activities to choose from to do. There were a myriad of different food carts to help fill your belly, Drag Queen parades to show your pride with, a carnival ride to enhance the high, Nintendo Switch chill out area to get your gaming on, markets to spend your money, bars to intoxicate your blood and three stages of A class musicians to entertain you: the main stage (Cattleyard and triple j), Moolin Rouge and Hilltown. It was the latter that I came to experience.

With local talent, the sublime Ollie English, Wing Defence and triple j Unearthed winners Pinkish Blu kicking things off on the main stage and Elsy Wameyo and The Montreals warming up Moolin Rouge the day got off to an exceptional start for those early arrivers. Melbourne singer/ songwriter Angie McMahon then took to the main stage to a particularly large and appreciative crowd for 12:30 pm. Her thirty-minute set was charmingly tranquil with songs such as her debut single Slow Mover, Missing Me and a cover of Neil Young’s Helpless being showcased.

Carmouflage Rose, Zimbabwe-born Larry Herrington, also drew a solid sized crowd in Moolin Rouge. The Brisbane based singer/ rapper treated everyone to songs including Let Me Down which features George Maple but was performed sans George Maple and Late Nights. For such a short set Rose definitely made his mark and the crowd lapped it up with whoops, cheers and rapturous applause.

Back on the main stage, another Melbournian fronted a dramatically swelled crowd compared to fifteen minutes prior. Because I had seen G-Flip at last year’s Spin Off Festival and this year’s St Jerome’s Laneway Festival I had no intention of seeing her again at GTM. But then she started playing and I was hooked. Again. Smashing out well-known hits Killing My Time, Drink Too Much and About You plus newbies such as Bring Me Home and I Am Not Afraid. G-Flip sang, guitared and drummed her way through another sensational set which left me wondering why the heck don’t festival organisers give her a later (better) timeslot?! She deserves it.

GTM’s gender inclusivity was abundant in Wayville, especially with its line-up. On the back of G-Flip’s fantastic set, Haiku Hands tore it up in Moolin Rouge. Donned in white jumpsuits the four Aussies sang songs including Dare You Not to Dance, Jupiter and Not About You to a perfectly choreographed set. The women injected a well-needed burst of energy to the afternoon as evidenced by the copious amounts of dancing and cheering by the crowd. Haiku Hands were a refreshing inclusion on the bill with their cross-genre style of music and general enthusiasm a definite highlight.

Continuing with the female dominance was Thelma Plum who was, unfortunately, struggling with illness over on the main stage. Despite this, she made a valiant effort to belt out songs including Clumsy Love, Woke Blokes, Better Than Blak and How Much Does Your Love Cost? Plum’s flora inspired set gave insight into her overall vision while her genuine appreciation of Adelaide was endearing. Her talent and gentle spirit were abundantly evident despite not feeling well. She left those who had not seen her live before wondering how good her performance would be if she was on her game.

Novocastrians Trophy Eyes channelled the punk rock vibe early kicking off their surly set with Something Bigger Than This. Lead singer John Floreani appeared to relish in the puppet master role as he commanded the crowd to ‘get on your friend’s shoulders’. And they did. Lots of them. Quite frankly, I have never seen that many people on the shoulders of another at a gig ever and it was really cool to see. In between swear ridden banter, songs including You Can Count on Me, Chlorine and my least favourite song of 2017, Hurt, were enjoyed by the masses. Overall, a solid set by the obligatory heavy rock band on the line-up.

From my least favourite song of 2017 GTM segued into one of my top ten best of the same year, That Message by Holy Holy. Timothy Carroll and Oscar Dawson successfully brought the debaucherous atmosphere down a notch while maintaining the high energy of the afternoon with their thirty-five-minute performance. In a set that seemed far too short they packed in a myriad of hits including Sentimental and Monday, You Cannot Call for Love Like a Dog, Faces, True Lovers and Teach Me About Dying. Five extra minutes could have given me House of Cards which I was eagerly awaiting, but alas it wasn’t to be. Whilst it would have been the cherry on top, their set was near perfect regardless.

Norway’s Aurora brought her dreamy brand of electro/ indie/ folk/ pop to Moolin Rouge Half the World Away (pun intended). Her stage show alone was a sight to behold, but when paired with her ethereal vocals a truly beautiful experience was witnessed. Meanwhile, as the overcast day turned into a greyer and darker night the main stage lit up. Sydney boys, DMA’s, captured the final daylight set pleasing fans with songs including Delete and Lay Down. They were an ideal intro to one of Australia’s greatest alt-rock bands of the ’90s, Regurgitator.

As day turned to night, the ‘Gurge proved yet again that even after twenty-six years they’ve still got it. For a band who loves to play live, they successfully squeeze in a multitude of songs, mainly from their extensive back catalogue, in forty-five minutes. Songs such as Blood and Spunk, Polyester Girl, My Friend Robot, I Will Lick Your Arsehole, Everyday Formula, I Get the Internet, Fat Cop, Black Bugs and ! (The Song Formerly Known As) had the massive crowd on their feet and dancing. Despite some minor technical difficulties, the boys from Brisbane handled it like the professionals they are (Billie Eilish take note) and powered through to actually finish a set on time for a change. Regurgitator is always a joy to see live and GTM 2019 was no exception.

After a last-minute stage swap with Fisher, Spinderella played the first half of her twenty minute set on the main stage, the second half taking place in Moolin Rouge. With the crowd already geared up from Regurgitator, she ensured they were lifted, spun around and spat out the other side with some classic 90’s RnB tunes. Everyone, young and old, appreciated what she had to offer with some wishing she could play a full uninterrupted set. Instead, Compton’s own Coolio took to the stage and attempted to carry the vibe for another thirty minutes. With his own take on Land Down Under opening the show, the fifty-something-year-old then traversed through a slow-paced set which limped its way with little structure and finesse until the final song which everyone came to hear, Gangsta’s Paradise. The one great thing about Coolio’s set was that Hilltop Hoods were on next.

At a festival with no headliners, headliners Hilltop Hoods came home after two and a half years to a hometown welcome that could rival an AFL grand final winner’s parade. Why they had a 7:10 pm set instead of the closing one is beyond me but regardless the majority of the twenty thousand sold-out crowd filled the main stage area with little room to move. As far as the eye could see there were people there to cheer on the boys from Blackwood.

Opening with Chase That Feeling it was on for young and old. What happened over the course of the next fifty minutes was a collective journey of musical appreciation bore from an overwhelming sense of pride and some damn fine tunes. Together with many other Adelaidians, I danced, I sang, I rapped, I waved my clothes, I put my hands in the air and I emoted. Hard. Songs including The Nosebleed Section, 1955, Won’t Let You Down, Exit Sign featuring Ecca Vandal who joined Suffa MC, Pressure MC and DJ Debris on stage, Rattling the Keys to the Kingdom and Cosby’s Sweater had the crowd partake in one of, if not the biggest, mosh pits I’d ever seen. As insane and exhilarating as it was, it was also dangerous. The Hilltop Hoods’ multiple requests for the crowd to stop pushing fell on deaf ears which resulted in them stopping the show mid-way so fallen spectators could get help, get up or get out. The boys refused to continue until they did. After about five minutes the all clear was given and the show went on. The Hilltop Hoods set was by far the stand out of the night, then again, I have never seen these guys drop the ball in a live performance and I hope I never do.

While slayed in Moolin Rouge with her electro/ dance pop including a sensational rendition of Lean On, Nick Murphy returned to Adelaide for the first time since he played St Jerome’s Laneway Festival in 2017. With a new album Run Fast Sleep Naked dropping that same day, Murphy took to the stage in a suit accompanied by a four-piece band. Like other artists on the bill, he played a few new songs and some old including Talk Is Cheap, Sanity and Medication. Whereas once upon a time I said, ‘I like your old stuff better than your new stuff’, now I’m not so sure. Having last seen Chet Faker live in 2015, Murphy’s growth as an artist and performer was clear. His set was one of those that had the power to win you over. And he won me over.

Having cancelled her tour with Florence + the Machine earlier this year Billie Eilish finally made it to Australian shores to showcase her unique brand of pop. The Los Angeles native generated a huge crowd of predominately females judging by the pitch of the screams. And screams aplenty there were for the duration of the fifty-minute set. Eilish covered off many songs including My Strange Addiction, Bellyache, Wish You Were Gay, Ocean Eyes, Copycat, All the Good Girls Go to Hell and Bury A Friend. Her backdrop consisted of dark and ghoulish animation that complimented her overall lyrical and personal style. When you take into consideration that she is only seventeen years old it is difficult not be in awe especially considering the calibre of work, studio and live, she is producing. Simply put, Eilish is a star. Yes, she is young and yes there is much room for growth as evidenced by her stroppy comment of, ‘what do you want me to do?’ in response to being advised of technical difficulties. But she is a star and her star is likely to shine even brighter over the coming years.

With Flosstradamus closing in Moolin Rouge, veteran electronic hip-hoppers Hermitude took that honour on the main stage. Stood atop of two industrial platforms with turntables at the ready Luke Dubs and Elgusto transformed the main stage into a temporary night club allowing the still huge crowd to dance until it was time to call it a night. It was a fitting end to a spectacular day of music.

GTM is one of Australia’s best touring festivals and has been for years. When it landed in Oakbank, South Australia in 2014 it brought with it something special. When it moved to Wayville in 2017 that something special did not follow, but it also did not kill the festival off. In fact, the easier accessibility strengthened it and consistently sold out events followed. I have no doubt GTM will continue to grow and evolve over the years and South Australia will remain a permanent fixture.

Live Review Anita Kertes