Festival Review: Groovin The Moo, Bendigo, May 4th, 2019

It’s not often you can say a festival gets, um, everything right. But, for Groovin The Moo, this sentiment rings true each year it operates.

This year was no different, in that it had a bit of everything, but was curated with just the right amount to keep each attendee happy.

For me, the day started with Angie McMahon. A rare and precious gift, with a knack for beautifully crafted rock songs. McMahon’s gorgeous and equally haunting vocals really take the cake here. Tracks like ‘Missing Me’, newbie ‘Pasta’ and ‘Slow Mover’ the track responsible for her debut triple j Hottest 100 entry, were all met with expressions of joy from the pretty full crowd.

2018-19 festival juggernaut G Flip brought her g-force to Bendigo’s Prince of Wales Showgrounds, also bringing along with her sing alongs like ‘Drink Too Much’ [where she declares her love for model Steph Claire Smith], ‘Killing My Time’, and emotional belter ‘I Am Not Afraid’. She even took over the drum kit for a few quick solos throughout her songs. G Flip, A.K.A Georgia Flipo brought along her family and friends, who she shouted out throughout her set. Well attended and well executed.

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A highlight at Groovin each year is the careful curation of its lineup and other programming. While there are overarching genre themes that take precedence [this year it was a focus on Hip-Hop], there is representation across most genres.

Festival curator Richard Moffat has also created an environment where having LGBTQI+, First Nations and POC acts isn’t a rarity, instead a priority. This certainly makes for a better experience, where punters can truly engage with a more diverse range of acts throughout their visit.

Following G Flip’s standout set, American rapper A$AP Twelvyy took to the triple j stage. A highlight of the hip-hop artist’s well-attended set was when he was welcomed into the audience, and crowd-surfed his way through [while still rapping].

Meanwhile, on the Moolin Rouge stage, Australian electronic-pop singer Wafia played to a packed out tent. Hits ‘I’m Good’ and ‘Bodies’ were highlights of her set.

Then, I jumped back over to the two main stages to catch Thelma Plum. Incredible, inspiring, and dreadfully under-rated pop music. Thelma well and truly could’ve been much later in the event, with crowd sing alongs left, right and centre proving she’s a festival centrepiece.

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Heavy rockers Trophy Eyes‘ set really packed a punch. They revved up the cold crowd, and at points managed to get most punters of each others’ shoulders, which was quite the spectacle. An entertaining moment was when frontman John Floreani asked the crowd, “Who’s cooked?”. After their response, he then answered “Yeah, me too.”

I don’t come across a band as incredible and tight as Holy Holy all too often. I didn’t quite expect to have my mind blown, but indeed, I did. Band leader Tim Carroll and co-conspirator Oscar Dawson build layers upon layers of synth, guitar and vocals in their tracks, all brought to life by their equally amazing band.

Dawson’s [already award winning] astonishing guitar solos are too good to be true. Drummer Matt Redlich and Graham Ritchie help bring Holy Holy’s luminous tracks to life. This has all resulted in one of the festival’s best attended, and best received sets.

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Multi-faceted industry heavyweight Jack River is killing it in all meanings of the phrase. The pop luminary brings all the positive vibes to the Groovin stage.

Another great component of Groovin The Moo is the festival’s food selection. All kinds of cuisines were on offer [I stuck mostly with Italian], and boy did I make the most of it. Drinks wise, the festival’s bar had a hefty stack of drinks on offer, lucky us!

All-male rock group DMA’s were at the helm of one of the highest anticipated sets of the coveted festival – and gosh, did they deliver?! Translating perfectly constructed tracks into a live setting is quite the pressuring task, but not for this Sydney band. Emotional ballads and dreamy pop infused indie rock songs meant singalongs galore. A standout set.

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Coolio needs no introducing. The American rapper has been killing it for over 30 years, and festival night was no different. Hit track ‘Gangster’s Paradise’ was a festival highlight, becoming quite the nostalgic moment. Teenage punters had phones out ready to film for Mum and Dad.

No one could anticipate the show Hilltop Hoods would bring to the Groovin Main Stage. Their hits ‘Exit Sign’, ‘Cosby Sweater’ and ‘Leave Me Lonely’ went wild, with confetti blasting throughout their set, ultimately resulting in one of the event’s biggest parties.

Billie Eilish took over Groovin the Moo, with additional lighting being brought into the festival site purely for her set. Security was upped, and fans were restless, all eager for their piece of Eilish, with this somewhat taking away from the experience. Screaming made for some difficulty in hearing Billie’s stunning vocals, but what I did hear was aural gold.

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Brother and co-conspirator Finneas is incredible. He produces all her work, and manages to play multiple instruments throughout Billie’s set, dressed in all-white Billie branded clothing. No doubt, the highest attended set of the touring festival.

Shortly after Billie and co, I hopped back on over to the Moolin Rouge stage, to catch the remainder of Flosstradamus’ banging EDM set. The American DJ’s set included remixes of hits from the last few decades and beyond. The audience absolutely lost their shit when he played Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’. The production in this set was flawless, with an obvious focus on powerful lighting and visualisers on screens. The end of this standout set marked the end of the 2019 incarnation of Groovin The Moo.

If I had to pick one festival to keep attending each year, it would be Groovin the Moo. Nothing is better than a perfectly curated and executed festival, and that’s exactly what Groovin is all about.

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