As the Autumn leaves fall and winter creeps closer with every morning frost, one last hurrah exists for the Australian festival season to go out with a bang.
Groovin’ The Moo is a traveling music festival that features some of the world’s leading artists in some of Australia’s most remote regional centers. It is quite literally, for lack of an actual analogy, the Outback’s answer to the Stereosonics, Big Day Outs and Future Music Festivals of metropolitan Australia.
It’s safe to say that we were pretty happy. I mean, we were living in a town that still had dial-up internet. And here we were, out in the bush (well, kind of) with a music festival to call our own.
And I’m not talking about a couple farmers and a guitar. No, no. We had some of world’s leading artists. Ball Park Music. Broods. Wolfmother. A$AP Fergie. Here. In our backyard. And it was going fucking wild.
Groovin The Moo is not your average music festival. It’s not dropped into an undeserving capital city somewhere. Not catered to suburban brats and their high-speed internet. No. Groovin The Moo is one for the people. Every year, Groovin the Moo travels around rural Australia and throws shows in Oakbank, Bunbury, Bendigo, Maitland, Townsville and Canberra. Never heard of those cities? Don’t worry, no one has. That’s the point.
‘Wait. Young people outside major cities like music, too?’ I hear you say. It took a teacher and a statistician, vocations not typically renowned for their festival prowess, to work that out before founding the festival in 2005. Thousands of engaged and enthusiastic young folk. Ready and willing to pay festival dollars for good tunes in their backyard. Still skeptical? Read on.
So we’re here in Canberra, taking it all in. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Canberra is Australia’s capital city. That doesn’t sound very rural or outback. But it counts because it’s full of kangaroos, it’s best sporting team plays netball and it’s located in the middle of fucking nowhere, unlike every other major city in Australia.
One day a year, the spotlight typically reserved for Sydney shifts inland to highlight what the nation’s capital has to offer. And with it flocks thousands of people from the surrounding regions for one afternoon of some of the world’s best music.
Groovin the Moo sets up camp on the grounds of Canberra’s third best tertiary education centre, the University of Canberra (behind ANU and literally not studying at all). Though many of the 15,000 that attend the festival are students at the university, the crowd draws music goers from around New South Wales. And with the artists we had on display, it’s no surprise to find fans from across Australia here to see their favourite act. And for around $100, you can get in on the action.
LINEUP: A$AP Ferg (USA), Ball Park Music, Broods (NZ), Carmada, Charli XCX (UK), The Dancing Accountant, The Delta Riggs, DMA’s, Flight Facilities, Hermitude, Hilltop Hoods, Hot Dub Time Machine, Meg Mac, Northlane, One Day, Peace (UK), Peaches (CAN), Phil Jamieson, The Preatures, RL Grime (USA), San Cisco, Saskwatch, Sticky Fingers, Tkay Maidza, Wolfmother, You Me At Six (UK), Zan Rowe, Boo Seeka, Coda Conduct, Montaigne, Xavier Dunn.
The layout of the grounds makes it incredibly easy to catch your favourite artist playing, regardless of how far you may be from the stage. Both stages sit at the base of a hill, with plenty of room for the mosh crowd and stoners to co-exist without ruining anyone’s day. As you progress back towards the front of the grounds, there’s plenty of options for food and drink to keep your day buzz going throughout the night. Groovin the Moo is also a licensed all-age event, meaning no one has to miss out on the action. If you’re 18, you can buy alcohol and access the bar section. If not, you need to get your older brother to buy it for you, and then drink it in the toilets.
The large tent to the left of the entrance, affectionately known as Moolin Rouge, is home to live DJ sets throughout the day. By the tent is about a fifth of a number of public toilets you need to cater to a festival of this size. The lines are long, but it’s a great place to take those selfies we’re going to find on Instagram the next day.
I was keen as beans to see the headliners, both Wolfmother and Hilltop Hoods. As with all good festivals, the top acts were last. In the meantime, we had plenty of opportunities to enjoy good tunes with some of my faves – Tkay Maidza and Ball Park Music – coming in hot earlier in the day.
So what is it that makes a festival like Groovin the Moo so enjoyable? It’s no cheaper or more exciting that any other festival in Australia. It’s certainly not unique in its execution; two stages, alternating acts with some food and beer on the side. And the acts are pretty much the same ones you’d find at any festival held in any other capital city of Australia. So what is it?
Somewhere between sinking another Smirnoff Ice (don’t hate) and losing my mates (again), I started to think about why I always have such a time when I come to this place. And while I was busy making new mates and sharing a beer with someone who consumed the thing so quickly I can only assume he was 16 years old, it hit me. People in Canberra are awesome. And it’s so obvious because, for the most part, people in Australia suck.
If you’re not from Australia, then you may have a wonderful image of Aussies in your head. We’re warm, welcoming – everyone’s mate. I hate to break it to you, but Aussies are shit. Especially the 18-24 year-old demographic. The girls are stuck-up, impossible to start a meaningful conversation with. The guys are meat heads and looking for any reason to knock you out. It’s impossible to visit a new town in Australia without getting grief from the locals.
But Canberra is different. People here are genuinely nice. It’s big enough to be considered a city, but not so big that people lose their small country town hospitality. Canberra is the Bush Capital – both a capital city on the world stage and the home of all your mates you haven’t met yet. It is, aside from the political home of Australia, a university town made up of thousands of country kids too scared to move to Sydney. I haven’t been to Groovin the Moo festivals at any of the other five locations, but I can only guess the feeling is the same. Groovin the Moo wins because you’re having a party with 15,000 of your best mates.
Don’t believe me? Hear it from the artists themselves:
Wanna go to GTM 2016? Check out gtm.net.au for info on tickets and times.
FestPop Staff Writer Tom Davies
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