Canberra’s weather truly is a different kind of beast. Summer brings with it unbearable heat, while winter’s cruel glare drags all but the bravest indoors. Add to this the occasional day to day swings thrown everyone’s way, and you have a force to be reckoned with.
So you can understand my concern when Saturday morning began gloomily – clouds threatening to wash out Foreshore 2011. Luckily by the time we arrived the sun was well and truly shining, and the air was buzzing with excitement.
Getting inside just after 12, we headed over to the Kicks stage to catch the end of Vulpes Vulpes’s set. With a small but appreciative crowd, the guys threw out catchy hooks and seemed to be enjoying the day, despite the large amount of empty space in front of them.
We stuck around afterwards to hear from Canberra locals Fox and Fowl, who surprised me with their vitality. Cheery indie pop flew forth and caught my friends and I dancing in the sun. With a surprising amount of potential, I feel these guys could make a name for themselves if they keep the ball rolling.
Next, we headed across Foreshore to catch LMFAO, and unsurprisingly it seemed they drew the entire festival. We arrived 15 minutes prior to their set, and felt the anticipation under the tent build to ridiculous heights. Screams erupted as a drum kit was brought out, and when Redfoo and Sky Blu took to the stage the crowd was thunderous. Unfortunately it became difficult to see at times, and when you’re missing out on the Champagne, dancing, and budgie smugglers, you end up feeling a bit left out. From what I heard their stage presence was mesmerising, but if you’re going to see them, make sure you can see them – otherwise you’ll mostly feed off the excitement of everyone else.
Returning to the Kicks stage to get a good spot for Salt-N-Pepa, we waited for the 80’s hip-hop queens to grace the stage. Their crowd interaction was genuine and sincere, and they proved that after all these years, they still have a charismatic charm. It didn’t feel contrived when songs were explained, and the dance choreography was brilliant without taking the focus off Salt or Pepa. Seeing older members of the crowd getting into the performance almost invoked a sense of vicarious nostalgia. Salt-N-Pepa are more than just a revived 80’s act. From Saturday it became clear that they still hold a great deal of relevance for many fans – both old and new – and after all these years, that’s nothing to be scoffed at.
Architecture In Helsinki were up next, bringing with them their own slightly eccentric form of indie pop. Frontman Cameron Bird commanded the stage, although the band seemed a little uneasy at first. However they quickly fell into their groove, and Bird even threw in some banter with the crowd. The crowd sang along to popular singles like “Heart It Races” and “Contact High”, and the set really took the atmosphere of the festival up a notch. They added something bright and fun to the middle of the day.
We opted to miss out on Gypsy and the Cat in lieu of a much needed food and rest break. Lining up at the stalls wasn’t too bad, with food being normally priced for a festival. The line to the toilets wasn’t too long, and there were multiple first aid tents around to help anyone in trouble. But one serious let down was the lack of ATMs on site, as there were no pass outs. If you forgot cash, you were stuck.
It was around this time that the torrential rain and heavy winds began. It left most fairly wet and uncomfortable, and continued intermittently for some time. Thanks for that Canberra.
Next up on the Kicks stage were Boy and Bear. Bringing out their Crowded House cover of “Fall At Your Feet” mid-way through the set provoked the biggest response from the crowd, and it seemed like everyone sang along as voices echoed across the field. However it felt as if most weren’t familiar with a lot of their other material, despite recent big wins at the 2011 ARIA Awards. Ultimately they were interesting to watch though, and provided a great introduction to the final acts of the night.
Ladyhawke was due to perform next, and although I just missed what was said up on stage, according to her Twitter feed she was fairly sick. Here’s hoping for a swift recovery – rumours are there’ll be some big activity from her in 2012!
As a consequence, Gotye’s set was pulled forward a tiny bit. From the moment Wally De Backer walked on stage, he had everyone’s attention. Moving around his section of the stage to play a variety of instruments, Gotye showed just how multi-talented he actually is. The first part of his set pulled lots of material from his latest LP Making Mirrors, which many festival-goers seemed to know quite well. Despite popular singles like “Hearts A Mess” being received well, it goes without saying that “Somebody I Used To Know” was the crowd favourite of the set. Finishing with “Learnalilgivinanlovin” and an extensive drum solo, alongside a wandering brass section, Gotye proved that there is still a place in Australia for music that’s made just a bit differently.
PNAU closed the night at Kicks stage, and their energy gave everyone a boost to continue into the night. Despite the wind and a bit of rain, the crowd had well and truly found their dancing shoes at this stage. Nick Littlemore leapt around the stage, bringing the duo’s dance music to life. The famous “Wild Strawberries” was played earlier on, seeing the crowd bounce, and “The Truth” provoked a large reaction as well. It’s hard not to smile when you see PNAU perform live, and they ended Foreshore for 2011 on a high note.
– Jeremy Stevens