REVIEW + PICS: Groovin The Moo | Canberra

Written By Sam Murphy on 05/04/2015


In a climate where many of its fellow festival are dropping like flies, Groovin The Moo is an unexpected success story. Now in its tenth year, the festival has continually grown, delivering a better and better lineup each year. This year it has sold out four of its six legs and while Canberra was one of those that didn't sell out, the grounds were packed with excitable punters ready to dip into all the goodness the lineup had to offer.

A$AP Ferg perhaps looked a little out-of-place on the lineup as the only international hip-hop act but it didn't stop him from tearing the join apart. The trap-king had the Moolin Rouge pumping very early in the day, making a small but extremely hyped crowd very sweaty. While his set was mostly light-hearted he used part of it to address the situation in Baltimore saying, "I don't give a fuck if you're black, I don't give a fuck if you're white, I don't give a fuck if you're Puerto Rican or Asian." It was good to see that behind some of his ridiculous lyrics, there was someone very willing to use his status for messages of equality.

The Preatures are worlds away from A$AP Ferg but both of them are masters of swelling the crowd into hysteria. With their gritty, Aussie rock aesthetic Isabella Manfredi and co delivered a stellar set of tracks mostly taken from their debut album Blue Planet Eyes. The band is tight but Manfredi is a phenomenal front woman with her effortless charisma recalling images of the late Chrissy Amphlett. In songs like Better Than It Ever Could Be  she adopts a vocal growl but then can switch it to a sweet trill on something like Somebody's Talking. As she emptied a bottle of water on her head it was clear that Manfredi intended to leave everything she had on that stage. Closer Is This How You Feel? is still the crowd favourite but there are plenty others, like the funk-driven Cruel, which are just as pleasing.

As the sun began to set on what had been a rare warm day in Canberra, 11 year-old native Black Summer took to the stage for his first DJ set, warming up for Carmada. triple j Unerathed may be hyping him up because it's a great story but there's no doubt the kid has serious talent and will be a force to be reckoned when he's the age of most of the producers on the bill. Around the same time we also spotted a kid wearing an RL Grime hat, confirming that kids these days have traded totem tennis for electronic music.

S/O to the coolest kid on the field at @groovinthemoo Canberra. @rlgrime @groovinthemoo

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Carmada had a tough job ahead of them to outshine Black Summer but they're seasoned pros at this now and looked more comfortable than ever as a duo. They delivered essentially a party set with throbbing bass filling every corner of the Moolin Rouge. Their latest single On Fire received the biggest wrap from the crowd sans Charli XCX. That was until they dropped Blink 182's What's My Age Again and awoke the frustrated teen in all of us.

Charli XCX was probably one of the biggest drawcards on the bill. With plenty of hits and a number of all-star collabs in the bag, she's perfectly tread a line between cult-hero and mainstream popstar. They're the kind of acts that go down the best at festivals and Charli took to the stage, dropped a bag of hits on the crowd and left them in a sweaty mess. To go into a little more detail, Charli stalked the stage in a leopard print onesie and moved through everything from the punk-inspired Break The Rules to Icona Pop's I Love It which she wrote herself. She said little more in between songs than the titles but she didn't need to. She's naturally charismatic with the charm of Josie (& the Pussycats) combined with rough and tumble of Joan Jett. It was interesting to see that Boom Clap was the one that really resonated with the crowd given that tracks like Gold Coins and Doing It have far more raucous energy. Her solo version of Fancy proved she was there to have a good time and give the crowd exactly what they wanted even without I.G.G.Y.

Canberra gets mighty cold when the sun disappears but the Moolin Rouge became suddenly steamy when Broods took to the stage. In 12 months the brother and sister duo from New Zealand have gone from shy newbies to confident highlights with frontwoman Georgia Nott killing it in a Rita Ora Adidas getup. Their mild debut album Evergreen is given a total facelift live with bolstered percussion and vocals with added grunt. Bridges blew the roof off with its dazzling electronic chorus while Everytime was aggressive and forceful. Nott's smooth dance moves proved she'd successfully transformed into a fully-fledged popstar. The way she handled the chorus of closer Mother & Father showed she was perfectly capable of pushing things more and more. The crowd adored them and it really felt as if Broods had fully realised the capabilities of their music in the live arena.

Following Broods, Phil Jamieson warmed-up the crowd with party hits but nothing could have prepared them for the onslaught that was RL Grime. Word has spread around the country over the last few weeks about just how special his shows have been and he showed Canberra exactly why. The WeDidIt producer held nothing back as he absolutely tore the joint apart with pulsating track after pulsating track hitting every accent with a sharp hook and moving towards climaxes as if he had an army to conquer. He dropped everything from Drake to Kanye but nothing could beat the moment that Core created. The track, which has become a staple of many DJ sets over the past year, created a death circle and sweaty bodies moshing from the front row to the back. From there things just got crazier and crazier with the crowd descending into anarchy (safe, might we add). It had the aggression of a rock show and he orchestrated the whole thing masterfully. Just phenomenal.

RL Grime was always going to be an almost impossible act to beat, but leave it to local heroes Flight Facilities and their ability to make a whole crowd swoon to do it. They occupy a far calmer spectrum of the dance world to RL Grime but the crowd was just as adoring. As we took flight the boys infused funk, deep-house and retro pop together for a flawless hour-set. While they're brilliant up there in their aviation costumes, they would be nothing without sex-kitten Owl Eyes up the front prowling around. Her voice is sublime and her dance moves are slinky and angular. She played the perfect host weaving her honey-soaked vocals through Crave You and her own feature Heart Attack. Flight Facilities have amassed so many great tunes and they rightfully deserve their place at the helm of most festival lineups.

Based on the strength of this year it seems as if Groovin The Moo will continue to be a main player in the Australian festival scene. It's a great way of bringing business and music to rural areas and is also well-organised. It seems as if it has the formula down-pat. Now all it needs is a lineup better than this year's to keep punters flooding back.

Gallery: Groovin The Moo, Canberra 3 May 2015