I guess it must be inevitable for everyone, but today I experienced something extremely distressing. Today was the first time I realised, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I’m a grown-up. Or, at the very least, I’ve grown up beyond the scope of the average festival goer. Gone for me are the days when going to a festival for one band is totally justified. The days when the joy of discovering new bands outweighed all other elements of a long day out. And unfortunately, I didn’t know that until Groovin’ The Moo hit Bendigo.

A message came through from my editor a few weeks ago “Do you want to review Groovin’ The Moo.” “Sure!” I respond, with an air of nonchalance. I’ve been before, had a great time, and I hadn’t been to a festival this year so it seemed a no-brainer.

“When is it again?”

Fast forward to Saturday morning, and already it’s not looking good for my youthful side. Lanks is already on stage in the Moolin Rouge and I haven’t even left Melbourne yet. I’ve got laundry to do.

I arrive at the Prince of Wales Showgrounds in the early afternoon, pay the Lions Club $5 for parking and head on in. I’ve got my bag with me, containing a hoodie, some snacks and – as it’s my everyday bag – my umbrella, which I blissfully forget is on the banned items list for literally every festival in the world. Shit. I take it back to the car and line up again, questioning whether I’m really meant to be here today.

Finally inside the showgrounds, I make my way past the Moolin Rouge where, I assume, Amy Shark had just wrapped up her criminally early set. One of the few acts I was aware of, I’d already resigned myself to missing Amy Shark and had somehow missed the news of Tash Sultana’s cancellation, and the subsequent timetable change. In hindsight, it must have been Alex Lahey – also with a ridiculously early slot. I made my way to the main stage area where K.Flay was battling the wind. Pleasantly surprised by the dancey punk sound of the Illinois native and her band, I decide to hang around there instead of roaming the grounds. I feel like I’m ready to settle in for a solid day.

K.Flay-GTM 2017-17

It keeps up into the following set, with the next act taking the Triple J stage at the right time for me to keep riding the wave. The fact that it’s Against Me and they are the only band I really came for is not entirely irrelevant, but I am also still on a high from K.Flay. The set starts out strong and I notice that Laura Jane Grace’s voice sounds great on opener ‘I Was A Teenage Anarchist,’ and the band is on fire. The set relies heavily on material from their last two albums which, as Grace describes, deals a lot with identity. By closer ‘Black Me Out’ though, her voice is straining a bit – the cold wind of Bendigo maybe taking its toll on the singer. Coincidentally, it’s taking its toll on me at the same time and as I look at the dark clouds rolling in, I start to seriously question my commitment to the day.

Against Me-GTM 2017-27

Undecided on where to go next, I weigh up sticking around at the Cattleyard Stage for Montaigne or heading into the tent for the token heavy band that GTM always put on at the same time. In the times I’ve been there before I’ve seen killer sets from Violent Soho (before they leapt to headline status) and Northlane so I make my way undercover. This year’s offering are British hardcore outfit Architects and, even with a promise from C.C. Disco that they’ll “blow my head off,” my head remains intact. Sure they’re heavy, but even Dillinger Escape Plan understand that melodies are important. I consider heading back for Montaigne’s set instead but as I look out I notice it’s lightly sprinkling. I wish I still had my umbrella.

Architects-GTM 2017-16

I decided to head back out to the main arena, regardless of the weather, to catch The Smith Street Band along with pretty much everyone else in Bendigo. The boys from Footscray are riding high on their latest album, but Wil Wagner still seemed stunned by the mass of people giving them their full attention. I hate to say it, but so was I. In fact, I’ve been to a few festivals where the Smithies have been playing to a huge audience and I’ve never understood. I enjoyed their whole set today, and I think I’m starting to understand it, but I’m still not sold, and I’m a little disappointed that I’m not.

The Smith Street Band-GTM 2017-3

This disappointment takes its toll, among other things, and I wait around for another few minutes before Amy Shark actually does take the stage, and I quickly realise that if I didn’t enjoy the Smith Street Band, and I am not enjoying Amy Shark – also through no fault of her own – then I should probably check the rest of the timetable. I study it and realise the next band I want to see is The Darkness, and they’re not on for another 3 hours. I’m also confused why they’re even on the lineup so I make a call, and throw in the towel.

As I drive home in the afternoon sun, arriving back home before Milky Chance’s set is wrapped up, I make an important decision that will affect (end?) my future as a reviewer: I will no longer accept a free ticket to a show unless I would be happy to buy one.

Because unfortunately, I’m getting too old for this shit.

Wes Fahey

aka A 29 Year Old Jaded Music Fan

Photos by Matt Holliday – see full gallery here

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