There is something about that sound. That low, bassy rumbling sound, a mix of voices and a mish mash of a dozen instruments all vying for attention; that sound that means the start of summer and the dawn of festival season.
Homebake, one of the elder statesmen of the festival season, rolled out again this year, but with a twist. For the first time in its 15 year lifespan, an international act, punk pin ups Blondie, is headlining.
Considering the jumping up and down over acts from only as far away as New Zealand, how the home crows reacts to the New Yorkers should be interesting to say the least.
Marching along with the hoards, a gaggle of young men in “100% Shire” singlets bob and weave towards the gates as another group of shamefaced lads in red tracksuits are bailed up by a happy looking sniffer dog.
Ah yes, wake up and chug a $9 beer, the festivals are here.
The gusty grounds of The Domain are a little quieter than expected as Seth Sentry plays the Main Stage.
The rapper has his work cut out for him but manages to get the early comers enthused enough to brave the already steamy weather. However, the real party is over at The Dome as Hey Geronimo play an energetic set to a squirming sea of raised hands and their vacating of the stage is mourned.
The Domain is still a little emptier than expected, but the hour is early and the vibe is good.
Ever endearing and eternally touring, Tim Rogers is resplendent in a white Elvis jumpsuit.
“It takes a hard man to start off soft” he growls as his looming, country tinged tunes provide the perfect soundtrack to a few cold beers in the Sydney sun.
Breaking into a rambling monologue, the singer is interrupted by a heckler. “Are you seriously trying to start a conversation with me now buddy?” he scolds, “I’m at work”.
Heading over to the Roland S. Howard stage, San Cisco are trying in vain to make themselves heard. Though they are cutesy and fun, their sound is lost between the electro pulsations from the Big Top and Tim Rogers’ scene-stealing vocals at The Dome.
Standing at a certain point, the sound from all three of the closely set up stages overlaps to make a muddled auditory three way.
A recycling station has been set up, offering a dollar per can or bottle returned – a great idea to cut down on waste, which is very quickly abused (quite hilariously) by festivalgoers.
Many are hunting around in packs swiping empties from bins and the hands of unsuspecting punters; others are carrying around plastic bags, with an evil looking mixture congregating at the bottom, spilled from the contents once held within the containers.
The earliest highlight of the day comes in the form of Brisbane’s DZ Deathrays. Their quiet looking stage becomes jam packed by the end of their first song and what can only be described as a circle pit of death breaks out.
Hats, sunglasses, and people go flying past and at one stage singer Shane Parsons jumps in too, losing his microphone in the pack.
As always, the dynamic pair deliver a set that is dangerous and dirty – exactly the way rock n roll should be.
A quick detour past the Comedy Stage is a less than jovial affair as one poor comic struggles to keep the waning attention of the disinterested crowd. Ranging from bad to criminally awful, the early offerings were certainly an eye opener.
Making the trek back to the main stage means being rewarded by the semi-nerdy deliciousness that is Ball Park Music. “What a beautiful way to celebrate Australian music… And Blondie” deadpans singer Sam Cromack, before the purveyors of sparkly pop launch into a cover of Frankie Valli’s “Oh, What A Night”.
It would have been easy to stay put and fall deeper in love with the Brisbane quartet but the frustrating level of clashes mean it’s time to move once again.
Curiosity leads to a trip over to the Big Top to see the newly reformed Sonicanimation.
Having not realised that they had actually gone anywhere was a little embarrassing, but it seemed to be a sentiment shared by many. As far as reunions go, this is one that probably wasn’t necessary.
To put it bluntly, their material hasn’t stood the test of time and observing a portion of the set, it consists of exclusively the word “hey”.
It quickly becomes clear that things are not going to get any better and once again it is back out into the baking afternoon heat. The effort is not wasted, passing the main stage once again just in time to hear Ball Park Music’s gorgeous tune “Coming Down”.
Claiming a prime patch of shade, The Saints are finishing off their set; but there is something a bit off about the whole affair.
Without Ed Kuepper, vocalist Chris Bailey is lost in a sea of new material that has more people walking away than sticking around. It is sad to see what was once a roaring beast now flailing listlessly.
Following another beer run (and it must be pointed out that every line be it for food, beer or toilets is blissfully short) the decision must be made between indie darlings Last Dinosaurs or the soulful sounds of The Bamboos.
The latter win by default as their soaring soul drowns out the power pop of Last Dinosaurs.
The Bamboos keep the late afternoon crowd on their toes with visits from a shirtless Tim Rogers for their wildly successful duet “I Got Burned”, as well as a cameo by the divine Megan Washington for a cover of Kings Of Leon’s “King Of The Rodeo”.
The biggest buzz of the day surrounds Tame Impala and the main stage rapidly fills up in anticipation for their sunset slot.
As the sun melts away, bathing the sky with pink and orange, the Perth posse opens with “Solitude Is Bliss”, knocking it out of the park from the word go.
Their music flows dreamily around the grounds as they float through a hit filled set. New tunes, the burly “Elephant” and euphoric “Feels Like We Only Going Backwards”, sit proudly alongside earlier cut “Half Full Glass Of Wine”.
If 2012 wasn’t already Kevin Parker’s year; this set well and truly cements the fact. In an eclectic and talented lineup, they steal the show.
Despite Tame Impala’s bar raising performance, the biggest crowd draw of the day goes to the Hilltop Hoods.
By now, the hip-hop crew are festival stalwarts and with good reason. Putting on a set that is sparking brightly with energy while holding their audience in the palm of their hand, with “Nosebleed Section” and “Chase That Feeling” – as expected – bring the house down.
Weaving past people bin-scrounging for cans, the slick candy coated disco sounds of Sam Sparro tease from within the Big Top.
The ruckus of the Hilltop Hoods’ set in complete opposition to Sparro’s grown up electro-pop.
Dressed sharp as a switchblade and flanked by two flawless backup singers, Sparro has punters sprinting into the tent once he begins an impressive rendition of his hit, “Black And Gold”.
Having been away for quite a while, it is good to see him back and having lost none of his original lustre, sounding every bit as good live as he does recorded.
Somewhere in the distance, Something For Kate are winding up what can only be described as a blistering set. The Dome is crammed with people trying to get a glimpse of the Dempsey/Ashworth/Hyndman machine that cannot seem to play a bad show.
Closing up with the suitably charged “Electricity”, supported by a few hundred backup singers, the only real question remaining is why the hugely popular band is not on the main stage.
Wandering back to see Tim Minchin at said Main Stage, it is surprising to see that the crowd is relatively light on and it is actually possible to walk just about to the front of the masses, only changing somewhat once Minchin actually appears.
The big haired, leather panted comedian’s rock opera-esque set has the entire crowd in stitches, apart from a foreign couple who are engaged in something best described as grade 5 dance meets sexual assault.
Minchin’s songs about the perils of being a ginger, ‘Woody Allen Jesus’, and the miracles that are boobs, are an apparent aphrodisiac. Who knew?
All of this leads up to the big decision. In a day of epically proportioned clashes, the Kimbra/Pond/Blondie clash is one that requires a specific formula to navigate.
A blissful sunset spent with Tame Impala rules out Pond. Oversaturation of Kimbra on every television screen, J Mag, and radio sees Blondie crowned the winner of Homebake Headliner Hoedown 2012.
Opening with “Dreaming” and sporting a pouffed to perfection blonde wig and gold capri pants, Debbie Harry makes it clear she is, was and always will be the Queen of Punk.
From the moment she opens her mouth, the decision to end the day with Blondie is proved to be a winner.
Not only does Harry sound fantastic, she looks incredible. While other foundation members, guitarist Chris Stein and drummer Clem Bourke may not have the enduring glamour of their iconic frontwoman, they still play as well as they ever have and the crowd dances in a pile to every beat they lay down.
Blondie’s set is a relative Best Of, gliding its way through the reggae-tinged “The Tide Is High”, the dark pop confection of “Atomic”, and the general badassery of “Rapture” (and yes folks, she still raps the hell out of it).
While there is sizeable crowd support over at the Big Top for Kimbra, and The Dome for Pond, Blondie refuse to be outdone – launching into a cover of the Beastie Boys’ “Fight For Your Right”.
Harry nails the rap-rock anthem, sounding utterly bored in a way that only the naturally born of chic can.
Exiting for about a minute before they play the obvious encore “Heart Of Glass” to an exhausted but hyped haze of limbs.
The beauty of Homebake is its simplicity. The organisers know what they’re doing and they do it well.
Unlike many other festivals who have branched out to try and trap the next upcoming market (many falling over in this pursuit), Homebake stays true its roots.
A perfect celebration of Australian music… and Blondie.
Check out the complete Homebake 2012 photo gallery here.