Harvest Festival @ Werribee Park, Melbourne (Sun 11 Nov 2012)
Harvest 2012 was finally upon us. This year the organisers had implemented a scheme, where all those that went last year became “Foundation Members”. This meant we got sent a plastic membership card instead of a ticket, with the view that each year we just ‘recharge’ it instead of buying a ticket. Neat idea- so long as I don’t lose it between now and next November….
This years event sold out, so a second show the day before was announced. Ticket sales to that were pretty low, so Foundation Members were given the option of going to either. I opted for Sunday. A couple of my mates went on the Saturday, and as you’ll see from their photos below, it was pretty quiet.
I’ve also put the bulk of my photos at the end, so if you’re just after visuals, scroll to the bottom.
After an uneventful train from Melboure CBD to Footscray, and then a festival bus to the site, I arrived nice and early, at around 11:45am. I wandered through the security and onto the site, which was just as magnificent as last years event. The sun was shining, and it looked as though this would be the perfect festival. After last years total clusterfuck with the drinks, food and toilet queues, organiser AJ Maddah had been adamant that this year would be completely different.
I’d wanted to see all three bands who were opening each stage. Lurch & Chief and River City Extension had been drumming up a bit of press, but as it was, I only had time to get to main stage to see Winter People, who sounded absolutely fantastic. Obviously there weren’t too many people there, but what can one expect at the beginning of a 12 hour day of drinking in the sun?
The War On Drugs
The War On Drugs were the first band of the day that I really wanted to see (and the main reason I’d arrived so early). They lived up to expectations and were everything I’d hoped for. I grabbed a beer on my way to see them. So far so good. The beer buying process took no longer than 30 seconds. Gone were the dreaded drink tickets, as it was cash only. Good shit. You may recall from last years event, that trying to get a beer at a similar time (from exactly the same bar) took a few hours!
Dark Dark Dark
I left The War On Drugs a little early, as I wanted to check out Dark Dark Dark, and also make it over to see Los Campesinos.
I knew nothing about Dark Dark Dark, except that tweets from yesterdays event had raved about them, so I thought I’d better check them out. Honestly, I wasn’t really blown away. To be more honest, I don’t really remember much of them at all. I stuck around for a couple of songs and decided my time was better spent catching up with my friends at Los Campesinos.
So I’ve got this mate I work with called Nick and he’s right into Los Campesinos, so I thought I’d go and have a look. I’d listened to a bit of their stuff on Spotify and Rdio, and hadn’t really gotten into it. Anyhoo, I went along to see them anyway. They were good. Very good actually, and very humble. I still don’t love the music, but their live show is certainly worth seeing. Very tight, and they seem like the kind of people that it would be lovely to sit down and have a beer with.
Nick, Tess and I decided to now head along to Dexys. Partly out of curiosity, and partly because there was nothing else on.
I don’t really know if there was anyone in the audience who knew any song of Dexys’ apart from C’mon Eileen. Yeah I know they were huge in Europe before that song came out, but we’re in Australia and I’m (only) 37. So that means I was 7 when it was released, so forgive me for not knowing their back catalogue.
When they came onto stage, I was amazed at the similarity (visually and sonically) between Kevin Rowland, and our very own Dave Graney. They were actually pretty good, so decided to stick around (along with everyone else) to hear the 30 year old wonder song. Eventually they played it. And played it, and played it some more. The whole thing went for about 15 minutes. My camera decided it was sick of it after about 10 minutes and gave up the ghost (hence the abrupt ending to the video below.)
The Dandy Warhols
I’ve seen The Dandy Warhols a couple of times before, and they’ve never really impressed me that much live. Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of their songs, but they can never seem to cut it live (in my opinion). I was hoping after a decade or so, my opinion would change, but unfortunately today was no different. There’s something about their live show that makes it sound as though there’s a shitload of wind blowing the noise around, making it sound awful. I remember thinking that at The 2004 Big Day Out, which was the last time I saw them. Today they had that same affliction. And there was no wind.
I’d run into another friend (Stef) by now so we figured we’d wander over the see Dark Horses. Apparently they’re supposed to bit a bit like Mazzy Star. As Stef noted, they had a chick singer, and that was about where the similarities ended. Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it.
These guys were excellent. They were one of the bands I really wanted to see, and I was more than impressed. All the hits I knew, plus a lot that I didn’t. Great live show.
I just don’t get the Mike Patton hype. Sorry for all of you that do- maybe you could explain it to me? It seems every time his name is mentioned, it comes with words such as ‘genius’ and ‘virtuoso’. Personally, the only word that really springs to mind when I hear his music is ‘twat’.
I was curious about Mondo Cane, as the concept of reworked 50s and 60s Italian pop songs was certainly an intriguing concept. Maybe I’m missing something, but this show was shit. Maybe the album is better? I’ll give it a listen. The band were great. Patton is just a over-hyped dude with some vague semblance of singing ability.
On another note, Just to give you idea on the differences on crowd between Saturday and Sunday, here’s Mondo Cane from my mate Werner on Saturday, and from me on Sunday, at much the same time and place:
Highlight of the day. Closely followed by Sigur Ros, but we’ll get to them in a second.
This was a truly magnificent gig, and if they’d done sideshows in Melbourne, I would have gone. If I’d ended up coming to Harvest on the Saturday, I would have come again on Sunday just to see this gig again.
I haven’t seen Cake for 15 years (at Livid 97, which was incidentally the last time I saw Ben Fold Five as well) and they haven’t slowed down one bit. Although I’ll freely admit I know only one of their albums well (Fashion Nugget) and another in passing (Comfort Eagle), I loved every track I heard that I didn’t know (which is rare for me- usually I get bored pretty easily). John McCrea is an outstanding front man, and one of the most entertaining I’ve seen. I will be listening to more Cake as of ……now.
I’d also caught up with another friend by this stage, and Baxter is a huge Cake fan. He knew every lyric of every song. For him, this was a dream come true and it was great seeing him beaming at finally seeing one his favourite acts.
Some videos below. For those who might be reading this from Brisbane or Sydney this week before Harvest makes it to you- GO AND SEE CAKE.
Ben Folds Five
This was entertaining. I liked Ben Folds Five quite a bit back in the 90’s, and it was great to hear some of those old tunes again. I’ve listened to their new album, The Sound of the Life of the Mind, a fair bit, and it’s good. Nothing on their old stuff, but still good. The new ones didn’t grab me so much live, but hey, you can’t have everything.
This was much more of a greatest hits show than I was expecting, which was quite welcome. I only got there in time to see Loser, but apparently he opened with Devil’s Haircut, which would have been great to see.
Sea Change is probably my favourite Back album, and a few on the tracks from it made an appearance, so I was pretty happy with that.
If I’d been more inebriated, I would have loved this that much more. As it was, I still loved it. I was surprised, as I’ve never been able to really listen to the Fuck Buttons without getting prett bored, pretty quick. I find it a bit obtuse in parts, and overly ‘out-there’ in others. This set was neither, and sounded sensational.
Grizzly Bear were, as I expected, boring as batshit. I decided the tree below was infinitely more interesting and pretty.
After missing most of Sigur Ros’ set at Splendour 2008, I was pretty excited to see tonight’s show.
Abso-fucking-lutely AMAZING. Hearing Festival live was my goal today, and I well and truly got that. Sensational show. No more words can describe it. Visual and sonic highlight of the day.
By this stage I was absolutely shagged. It’d been a long day, all my mates had left, and it was going to be at least 2 hours to get home on various public transport options. But, I wanted to see Santigold, so I trundled back to the Windmill stage. I only caught the last 20 minutes or so, but she sounded great- I wish I could have seen more, but that is the way of the festival, and Sigur Ros were my priority.
All I can say at the end of that, is well done Harvest. From what was a great (yet seemingly poorly organised) festival last year, today’s event has absolutely no flaws at all. Seriously, there was nothing they fell short on. The grounds were impecable, the food was delicious, the queues were non-existent and the music was excellent. Even having the public transport thrown into chaos by the cancellation of all trains to the venue, they still overcame and put on extra buses to and from the festival, leaving no man or woman behind.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, I will definitely by charging up my Foundation Member card for next years event.
Photos of Harvest 2012
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