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Review: Groovin The Moo 2017, Maitland

Written By Zanda Wilson on 05/02/2017

Photos by Gabrielle Clement.

Groovin’ The Moo 2017 rolled on through one of its long time homes in Maitland on Saturday, having made its debut at Wayville a day prior. Inevitably the news of one-woman wondershow Tash Sultana pulling out due to illness just hours prior to gates opening left something of an air of disappointment lingering over the start of the day, such is her star power at the moment.

While the loss of Tash was a great shame, it also provided an opportunity for Groovin to show that it had plenty more to offer over a day packed with A+ performances and killer displays of talent. Electro-indie outfit GLADES kicked off the day in the Moulin Rouge tent to a small but energetic crowd, making their festival debut and showing off an accomplished and tight set that more than proved they deserved to be there.

The consummate programming professions at Groovin showed off their expertise in putting together a program that allowed for punters to see at least parts of most acts over the course of the day. While there will inevitably be clashes in every festival program, the early afternoon saw punters treated to some excellent sets by the likes of Methyl Ethel, K.Flay, and Northeast Party House, while Allday treated a huge crowd on the triple j stage to a raft of his new material from his latest record.

Mid-afternoon rolled around and cult Aussie heroes The Smith Street Band stepped up for the perfect arvo set, bringing an energy and emotion to their performance that was infectious right through to our hearts. Accomplished and anthemic; their performance of tracks like Death To The Lads and Young Drunk were a display of how incredibly powerful they are as a band right now, with Will Wagner also taking the opportunity to address the importance of mental health.

For anyone who had not had phone reception or a tip-off in the hours prior, what came next would’ve been quite confuddling. Instead of the bare-footed prodigy Tash Sultana taking the stage we witnessed the irrepressible Amy Shark emerged, bravely taking on Sultana’s slot and shouting out her best wishes for her ill friend. She did it like a champ, pulling out one of her best sets to date and providing some perfect crowd singalongs in the form of Weekends and, of course; Adore.

The sun was setting, and some super fun sets from The Jungle Giants and Germany’s Milky Chance provided a chance to either recharge or dance through the sunset into the night.

Next, a set that many had been anticipating for years; Nick Littlemore’s PNAU graced the stage with one of the most unpredictable sets of the day. Save for an epic extended version of Chameleon, the rest of the set consisted of an impulsive mix of classics and some wildcards, or perhaps should I say Wild Strawberries. Other tracks like No More Violence were performed between brand new tracks from their forthcoming album sung by the incredible Shakira Marshall, and just general looseness from Littlemore, Peter Mayes and new addition to the band Sam Littlemore.

It was undoubtedly a hard act to follow, however if anyone was going to be able to pull it off, The Darkness were probably a good bet. The UK legends captivated the crowd with a proper old school rock show, performing all of their hits and of course I Believe In A Thing Called Love, with frontman Justin Hawkins showing off why he’s one of the best in the business. They only concluded after the jump-suit clad Hawkins had ridden a security guard through the crowd continuing an extended guitar solo the whole time.

The Wombats, touring to celebrate 10 years since their debut album, followed on from their fellow countrymen and played all their biggest hits from A Guide To Love, Loss and Desperation and This Modern Glitch, as well as a few track from their most recent offering Glitterbug.

And with another fantastic Maitland edition of Australia’s best rural touring festival about to wrap up, who better than the ultimate partyboy himself Dillon Francis to wrap up. There seriously could not have been a more entertaining way to end the day, with Francis performing an amazing set filled with smash hits Anywhere, I Can’t Take It and Candy, as well as mixing in some hip hop and R&B in betwixt his own tracks, with hilariously creative visuals that Client Liaison would’ve been proud of. If there were any doubts about his latest track Say Less performing in a festival environment, a special edit of the track alleviated all fears, and it blew the roof off the Moulin Rouge tent to end the day on a high.

All photos by Gabrielle Clement.