“Everything not saved will be lost.”
Whenever the Splendour in the Grass sideshows roll around there’s always at least one act on that list I want to see. This year it was Local Natives. Why? Well, this was an indie rock band familiar to me from my high school days. In fact, their debut album Gorilla Manor was the first vinyl I ever brought. I still own it, it’s a nice piece of memorabilia. And I can still remember making mix tapes for my friends always incorporating a song from the band. It was necessary.
Kevin Parker has nothing to prove to tonight’s crowd. Of the 35,000 attending Australia’s premier mass celebration of youth culture close to all of them will be here singing along to his songs, roaring in applause and dancing to his music no matter what. Yet the pressure sits heavy upon his shoulders. It’s the same feeling every time he goes on stage. He’s not content to rest upon past achievements. He’s going to give everything he has to prove himself once more. He's a perfectionist, he doesn’t do anything in half measure.
My eyes adjust to the dimly lit room. From the murk shoots beams of red. This light creates an unsettling effect but fuels the atmosphere. Through it I make out the faces of others. The King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s audience is forever growing, and the crowd tonight reflects this. They range from the late teens to the middle-aged.
The first time I saw Ball Park Music was three years ago. It was their Every Night the Same Dream Tour. Now, two or so years later, I’m back at my favourite venue with my favourite band. I can’t wait to see how much better thier live show has gotten.
I’m a mixture of nervousness and excitement. This year’s line-up didn’t grab me the way last years did, however, there were still enough big names and a few I hadn’t seen before. (Female representation always a huge tick in my box!).
People are dancing, even in the spaces not usually given over to it. The crowd is really going and the venue is full. Would-be dancers are spilling out and into to the sides. They’re repurposing whatever space they can to move their bodies - the bar and the flanks, even the line for the toilet. No joke. The place is exploding.
If funk has ever had three pillars it's James Brown, Sly Stone, and Parliament-Funkadelic. With Sly gone and James having checked out a little over a decade ago I guess that leaves P-Funk last band standing. Tonight Geroge Clinton and his collective are at Bluesfest and from when their drummer begins hammering into his kit, P-Funk’s is a groove that does not stop. In terms of lyrics and solos, you might be able to partition what’s happening on stage into separate songs but really it's one singular continuous groove, one long hard shot of funk.
Kurt Vile wears worn sneakers, blue jeans, and a flannel overshirt over a Stax Records tee. His hair curls around his face and his body around his guitar. He grips his guitar as though he may never let go of it (though he's changing between them every song.)
The first day is a blur, I'm travelling in full festival mode. My partner ushers me to the bar, I don’t object. It’s raining and before too long I’m watching Norah Jones perform ‘Don’t Know Why’. It’s good. She plays ‘Come Away With Me’ too. Then there’s Hozier. As he’s singing his suffering out on stage, it strikes me that as the kind of guy who’s just really into his music. He doesn’t miss a trick and the band saves ‘Take Me To Church’ ‘til last.
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