Sunday, May 12, 2013

Groovin' the Moo 2013

Or: The Bronx were awesome, the crowd was shit, and the rest of it was pretty good. 

Exactly one day before we all moved out and bade farewell to Castle Mega (as our Toorak abode came to be known), Mike, Jaz and I hit up Groovin' the Moo in Bendigo. The day was gloriously sunny, then bitterly cold, and filled with music and a very young crowd. 

The day taught me three things, all of which I actually already knew:
  • I fucking love The Bronx
  • I despise young, obnoxious crowds
  • I'm kind of getting sick of day music festivals swimming with a young, obnoxious crowd

Much of the day. 

Okay, let me rephrase and explain. I had a good time. It was an enjoyable day, and a nice way to tie up the time Mike (and Jaz) and I had spent together. After all, the first real conversation Mike and I had was basically a Bronx love-fest that became louder and louder as we discovered how damn much we each love the Bronx. There were plenty of fun times had, and at least a couple of minds blown upon seeing The Bronx

Unfortunately, for a disappointing portion of the day I felt like I was an angry old man, waving his cane/walking frame/wrinkly old fist at a pack of good fer nuthin' young whippersnappers intent on ruining his day/lawn. At first I put this down to the fact that I'm often very quick to anger and impatience when it comes to inanimate objects, most drivers on the road, and teens. I then became severely disappointed at myself for being so ageist and a prematurely grumpy old woman. 

Of course, it's also the first music festival in a while that I spent the entire time completely sober, so that might've been it (although I severely doubt it). 

First off - the good bits.

Saw some swell music. Frightened Rabbit were great, Alpine were an enjoyable listen, The Kooks were also a bit of fun. Regurgitator were a fucking BLAST and made me very glad indeed that I ended up going to the festival at all. And The Bronx, I'm glad to say, were well worth price of admission. The entire time they were onstage I wished I'd had the smarts to buy a ticket to their Corner Hotel sideshow ... which from all accounts, was an ear-gasm inducing sweaty pit of glorious tunes.

I'd seen them before, at Soundwave a few years ago. To give you an idea of what it was like, in a day that Iron Maiden were the headliners, The Bronx was my highlight. They blew my mind, and left my pals and I as sweaty, elated, bruised and battered messes.

What ensued at Groovin' the Moo was pretty much a repeat of that, in that it was fucking awesome. Mike and I later praised Matt Caughthran on his onstage charisma, and his ability to whip a crowd into a frenzy (but of course, that's a given). I also later expressed my desire to "shag the ever-loving snot out of Joby". By George, I wish I'd seen their sideshow. They were exciting and tight and brutal, the crowd was rowdy, moshing, circle pit-ing mess, and hell - this was a watered-down, sunny, big festival context. I can only imagine what they were like in a cramped, enclosed, sweaty Corner Hotel context full of dedicated fans. I'm pretty sure I would have died. And it would've been a most glorious way to go. Highlights were "Knifeman", "Shitty Future", "History's Stranglers".

There's just something incredibly exhilarating about bashing into a crowd of other people jumping around, yelling and sweating. And about everyone screaming as one, "MOTHERFUCKER, I WANT YOUR BLOOD!!!" while the singer sails over you on a sea of hands. I didn't want the set to end, to say the least. As Jaz and I looked for Mike afterwards, I was still jumping around wild-eyed, ripping off layers of clothing. Mike greeted us with a massive high five and a huge grin.


That was the highlight of the festival, and it was about 2pm.

Now, onto the raging.

What I wanted to do most of the day

Way back when I went to Soundwave (and saw the Bronx), I made sure to make a distinction in the following blog post (which I can't be bothered finding now) between the crowd that day and the crowd I'd endured at Big Day Out just a month or so previous. I think my comments were somewhere along the lines of: 

Big Day Out Crowd: Young, obnoxious, at Big Day Out in order to "be at Big Day Out", not there for the music (yes, I'm aware of how cliched and wanky a thing to say that is), and generally kind of just rude. 

Soundwave Crowd: Not really any of those things. 

Of course, that's a gross overgeneralisation. There are dickheads in every crowd. And dickheads come in all shapes and sizes and ages, of course. However. However. However. The general feeling conveyed above was something I felt again at Groovin' the Moo, and I think that in large part it was a result of the very, very "all ages" crowd at Bendigo's showgrounds. 

It was the kind of crowd that - even if there was plenty of room around in a not-too-packed space - would make sure to shove past you on their rushed way to the stage. The kind of crowd that - upon arriving at the stage - would do everything in their power to push, bump and shove their way as close to the front as humanly possible, with no consideration given to anyone around them, or to the fact that all they'd then be seeing is someone's back. Then they'd spend the entire set watching the stage through the pixels of their phone screen.

I can't tell you how many times I saw an ocean of arms thrust above the crowd, phones clutched and recording. Oh man. Oh, man. Oh, MAN was it ever infuriating. I actually began taking photos of people taking photos. Which maybe makes me a hypocrite, but fuck you - it was intermittently and it was to prove a point. And yes, I realise I took a photo of The Bronx with my phone. But that was one photo, after which I shoved my phone back into my bag in order to continue rocking out.

To those who watch gigs through a phone screen - why? Are you really going to re-watch the fuzzy, blurry, shitty footage you've recorded ever again? Don't you think at all that actually being present in the moment might make for a better memory of the gig? Don't you think for a moment that you might be a walking millennial cliche?? FUCK. 

Take Tame Impala. This is an instance where at first I thought my enjoyment was impeded by the fact that I was stone-cold sober and sans Dane to dance like a maniac with me, until I realised it really wasn't. We positioned ourselves in the crowd, and soon began to enjoy - read: not enjoy - being constantly shoved by screeching girls and bro'd-up guys trying to get that little bit closer to the front. Why? WHY?

I really tried to get into it and have a good time, which was difficult considering Jaz was standing there, glowering. Hard to dance when your pals are fuming. It's also hard to rock out when the crowd doesn't seem to even register there being a band onstage - exactly the case during Tame Impala. It was almost as if it didn't matter whether there was music occurring at all, the crowd was just interested in taking selfies of themselves being at #GTM2013. After hearing a few songs, attempting to boogie to "Elephant" and realising the band seemed to be in the mood to jam, I admitted defeat and told the guys we could head to Flume.

Which was a terrible decision.

In fact, when I was describing all this to a friend a couple of days ago, he interjected with, "Was it the Flume crowd? Were they the worst?"

To which I replied, "Yes."

They were. So bad. Obnoxious. Awful. Trashy. With an average age of about eighteen. It was packed. I immediately regretted the fact that we were amongst the thick of it; I'm sure following my own advice of being further back with space to move and space to breathe where there wasn't someone constantly farting/shoving would've been the way to go.

Now, please know that I realise crowds like that are conducive to shoving and being in close proximity to other people. And that is more than fine with me - I love mosh pits, I love boogying up a storm in a sea of people, all that bizzo. And of course, I've been known to rock out without really registering what band was on (I forgot to notice when Flume played at Golden Plains). But oh man, what had started as irritation and exasperation earlier in the day and in the Tame Impala crowd, quickly turned into a flying rage during Flume. I turned around and saw Jaz, stony faced and looking like steam was about to burst out of her ears. So many phones in the air. A girl literally shoving people out of her way. Young dudes being complete douche canoes.

Flume's set was completely fine, enjoyable. Unfortunately, I wanted to roundhouse kick just about everyone in the crowd. We soon left (which was an exercise in "FFFFUUUUUUUU" in itself) and went over to The Kooks. I noticed how quickly my mood shifted back to "agreeable" and "cheerful" being away from the Flume crowd. Until of course, Flume's set finished and they all poured like some sort waterfall of bug larvae from a larger bug. I'm sorry, that's an awful mental image.

Later on, as the day was done and the three of us made our way back to the car, I noted how old and angry I felt throughout so much of the festival. And I was pleased to hear Mike and Jaz completely agreed with me. If I'm angry and old, then they are too. Or maybe it was just apparent how dudd-ful the general crowd was (not including the crowd at The Bronx). Was it because I was completely sober? Was it because I'm an impatient person? Was it because The Kids have no sense of "etiquette" and "not being a complete dudd"? I'm not sure.

Reading back on this, it seems like I had a shitty, shitty day apart from The Bronx. Not true! Frightened Rabbit were rad. Regurgitator were very rad. Kooks were fun. Flume would've been fun if not filled with dudds. I had a blast hanging with Mike and Jaz. It was a sunny, lovely day and I was wearing a TIE fighter t-shirt on May the Fourth.

That being said though, I'm very certain I'll be adding Groovin' the Moo to sit alongside Big Day Out in the list of "there'll have to be a fucking amazing line up for me to hit that again".

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