Groovin The Moo Maitland
Groovin The Moo Maitland
Written by Byron Hall
It’s a fairly overcast Saturday. Slight drizzles here and there, but nothing too drenching. Enough to keep me under cover as I wait for my train, my train that was – for once – on time! Trust me, I was as surprised as you are.
After a 3 hour trip to Maitland, my eyes were blessed with a multitude of various and creative festival outfits. I mean yeah sure, some of them aren’t exactly what I’d call outfits, but on the other hand, Maitland train station had to be the easiest ‘festival shirt’ themed eye spy ever.
As the wayward flock of music-consuming-sheep that we were, we hustled towards the iconic groovin front entry line. If it’s your first time heading to Groovin The Moo, let me give you a quick insider tip: About 150 meters before the gate there is usually a hectic sausage sizzle run by the smiling Rotary Club of East Maitland. After rapidly downing a sausage sanga, I joined onto the tail end of the line. Let’s quickly talk about line etiquette, I might just recommend 3 things.
1) Don’t be that person who consumes their illicit substances once in eyeshot of the police or sniffer dogs. Not only will you have a bad time, chances are you won’t be getting into the festival.
2) Don’t pat the sniffer dogs, or the police for that matter. Just because your primitive festival brain thinks “doggos” are cute it doesn’t mean they have a sign on then wanting “free pats”.
3) Bring gum (who doesn’t love fresh breath).
The line slowly and methodically worked its way up to the front of the front. Now it was time for bag checks, the security waived their magic wands to my left and right and inspected my bag. It was breezy as.
The cooker behind me didn’t have such an easy time. I guess the first thing I noticed this Groovin was the increased security presence and I’m pretty sure it paid off, I still haven’t heard reports of overdoses or any untoward behaviour. If you’re a Groovin regular you’d know that this is a good change from previous years.
As I ventured over to the Moolin Rouge stage to witness the Rejjie Snow (IRL) the first thing I was met with were fat and heavy bass tones, Rejjies’ DJ hyping up the crowd with a bunch of “WHAT IS UPP GROOOOVINNN” and “ARE YOU READY FOR REJJIE”. He then proceeded into the initial instrumental, following into the track ‘Pink Lemonade’. Out struts Rejjie, bustling with swagger, edging to the front of the stage to let out a massive “Hell Yeahh!”. Some other fan favourites that they performed were ‘D.R.U.G.S’ and ‘Eqyptian Luvr’.
After a quick stroll to the Cattleyard stage, I passed a bunch of stalls, food stands and a party house called “Heaps Gay”, which consisted of some of the best and most interpretive dancing I’d ever seen; even two police officers joined in! It was honestly so refreshing to see them dancing, having a good time, and even posing for photos with squads of guys and gals!
I got prime position for Trophy Eyes, after all this was practically a “hometown” show for the Newcastle locals. The boys again proving that they can both command and astound the crowd like no other, frontman John Floreani spun, kicked and fist pumped throughout the entirety of ‘Friday Forever’! Things got a little more serious with ’Something Bigger Than This’, as its opening lyrics rung out through the speakers to a wild and ecstatic Maitland, birthing the first circle pit of the day and kicking up dust and teenage angst for all to see. Some other favourites that the band performed were ‘Heaven Sent’, ‘Hurt’, ‘Chlorine’ and ‘You Can Count On Me’. Though, who am I kidding?! ALL Trophy Eyes songs are favourites!
Duckworth was certainly an experience to say the least. I’d never listened to his stuff prior, but if you’re into trancelike hip-hop then go no further. I found myself head bopping to his track called ‘TAMAGOTCHI’, which ebbed and flowed with dry snares and interesting electronic effects. Duckworths’ flow and phraseology was pretty refreshing for a Groovin stage, especially in ‘LOVE IS LIKE A MOSHPIT’, which had an ear-wormy “Bleh Bleh Bleh Bleh Bleh, Love is Like a moshpit”.
I figured now was a pretty decent time to check out the Udder Mayhem area. It was awesome, there was a wicked viewing area and relatively unused toilets. I went in search of a Trophy EyePA, the only commemorative beer to be sold at a Groovin ever to my knowledge. The first bar I went to were sold out; a bummer, but I wasn’t too disheartened. I figured I’d do a bit of a bar crawl in search of the fruity amber liquid.
I then caught back up with Bree Wallace and we headed over to the Cattleyard Stage in preparation for Jack River. This was my first time seeing Jack River (Holly Rankin), the Forster local had a huge turnout. Expressing her love for everyone who made it, she asked collectively how Maitlands’ day was going, kicking off the set with a powerful rendition of ‘Ballroom’, which oozed crowd participation! I loved the full body-ness of the lo-fi track ‘Adolescent’, it was just fun to scream out “hey, hey, so fucking adolescent” with a few thousand other adolescents. Kinda ironic, but also amazing! River finished off her set with ‘Sugar’, and a very unexpected rendition of Tal Bachman’s ‘She’s So High’!
We didn’t have to walk very far to see Jacks’ label-mates DMA’s, who were taking to the Triple J stage. Frontman Tommy O’Dell took to the stage with a flanno tied around his waist and the sobre britpop trio played anthems such as, ‘In The Air’, ‘Lay Down’, ‘Delete’ and of course, the one and only ‘Dreams’ by Cher. Listening to the haunting version by our own Sydney boys has be an Aussie rite of passage by now. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was chanting the lyrics back in a beautiful chorus of inebriation and passion!
Regurgitator were one of my favourite acts of this years’ Groovin. It was apparent that they knew who their audience was within seconds. Both frontmen Quan Yeomans and Ben Ely introduced themselves to the crowd as Regurgitator, stating that “your parents probably had sex to us”, which obviously got a bunch of laughs. The trio were stoked to be there, claiming that this next one is for the lovers out there. It was none other than ‘I Will Lick Your Arsehole’. As you can imagine, the chorus got a lot of crowd participation. They then went on to play their 1997 hit; ‘Everyday Formula’, their 96’ showstopper ‘I Sucked A Lot Of Cock To Get Where I Am’, and their anthem ‘Polyester Girl’, finally finishing the set with a homage to Guns and Roses with ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’, stopping after the iconic initial riff.
Artis Leon Ivey Jr., better known as Coolio, took to the Triple J stage just after 6; the sun was setting, the cold was rolling in and here in front of us stood the original Gangsta of Paradise. Without delay, the Grammy Award winner burst into his 1996 hit ‘Hit ‘Em High’, sending the mosh-pit into a frenzy of snapping wrists. Shortly after, the intro to The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’ rung out before fading into the Coolio certified 2009 track known as ‘Hotel C’. With what could have be one of the longest interludes ever, ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ got our attention. Sounding better than the studio recording ever could, the vibe was set; the moon peeping out from behind the stage, and the eerie strings haunting the Maitland showground.
Aussie hip-hop represent, it was now time for Hilltop Hoods! The Adelaide boys were no stranger to playing Groovins’, going all the way back to 2006 at the second ever Groovin’ The Moo. Kicking things off with their 2009 hit ‘Chase That Feeling’, the crowd was ready and pumped. The next track they played was arguably their newest anthem ‘Leave Me Lonely’, which copped a lot of love. Next up, was a bit of a friendly warning before literally jumping into the anthem of anthems, ‘Nosebleed Section’, which by the end of the last verse had surely created a few accidental nosebleeds. Luckily, medical crew and the barrier security were friendly and responded quickly to those who had copped a stray arm or headbutt. I think the biggest shock of the night was when Ecca Vandal and Illy took to the stage for a huge version of ‘Exit Sign’, which was as groovy as it was unexpected.
We rushed back to the Moolin Rouge to catch the Danish sensation that was MØ, who had arguably one of the most varied crowds throughout the entire festival. Cruising onto stage, within seconds she had perched herself nicely on the barrier a-front a mass of fans; each dancing more interpretive than the one before, all through a string of hits such as ‘Kamikaze’, ‘Final Song’ and ‘Lean On’!
The crowd started disapating, we followed the herd of people over to the Cattleyard stage once more for what was the main event. A 17 year old by the name of Billie Eilish, who had just finished playing a little festival in Indio California known as Coachella. Sure, Maitland is a long way from California, but when Billie took to the stage it felt like it was HER festival! The stage was filled with dark and menacing aesthetics which matched up with the display screen behind her performance. At times the screen showed tarantulas, flies and demented beings who seemed to be echoing and chanting the chorus back to Billie.
Starting the set with her latest single ‘Bad Guy’, the visual effects and harsh strobing lighting really got across the idea of a dark and menacing performance, pairing up with amazingly spoken-word like singing. From there we were treated to ‘my strange addiction’ and ‘you should see me in a crown’, pausing for a second to address all of the beautiful people in the audience and encouraging them to sing along. After quickly tying her shoe she got back up to the front of stage for ‘idontwannabeyouanymore’. Shortly after finishing the song, she instructed the crowd to “Get down real low, and when the beat comes in I want you to jump like a fucking kangaroo”. It was time for ‘COPYCAT’ and sure as hell, when the beat came in after the whispered “PSYCH”, the entire crowd went from being on the ground to moshing like they were at a hardcore show. It was sick!
The amount of energy Billie had brought with her could not be contained, even in the super chill intro of ‘wish you were gay’ she was bouncing around the stage, oozing excitement and good vibes. The final songs were just as strong as the first. Going back to 2017 for ‘bellyache’, 2016 for ‘Ocean Eyes’ and then finishing it all of with the intense ‘bury a friend’ off her latest album.
Photos by Bree Wallace