First held in 2005, the Groovin’ the Moo has been growing size and popularity as a musical festival for alternative acts that is held in oddish locations. First held in Gloucester, the 2013 version has been through or will be held in Maitland, Canberra, Bunbury, Townsville and Bendigo. There’s a common line-up at all venues, with local bands opening. 6 bands played in 2005 – at least 27 bands appeared on the 2013. On the weekend, I effectively chaperoned 5 teenage girls to the 11 hour concert in Canberra. They were far more familiar with many of the Canberra line-up than I was, but there were enough acts to keep me interested.
The big names (those that I’d heard of anyway] included Regurgitator, the Kooks, They Might Be Giants, Tame Impala, Temper Trap and Flume. The first three acts, in particular were fabulous. The ‘Gurge were wonderful. They played at twilight and played during the setting of the sun. Their blend of thrash, tongue in cheek lyrics and ebullient stage craft simply delighted the crowd. A great Australian band – the crowd went beserk. They Might Be Giants played some new stuff, but wheeled out their big hit “Dr Worm” (but not “You’re not the Boss of Me”). Really, really solid set and great show men. The Kooks were simply awesome. They fed off the crowd enthusiasm and just rocked out.
The suprise act for me was Matt and Kim. I had absolutely no idea who these guys were. I’ve spent plenty of time since looking at their clips on YouTube and reading up on their history. Boyfriend and girlfriend, Matt and Kim put on one of the most unique and wild live performances I’ve had the pleasure to see. Matt plays a keyboard and Kim thrashes a very simple kit with the vigour of John Bonham. She takes it to a new level with multiple ascents of her bass drum to engage the crowd with foul mouthed exhortations and gyrations that have to be seen to be believed. Her venture into the crowd, standing on the hands of an adoring audience was visually stunning. Two people creating so much noise is remarkable, even if some of it is computer generated. If you ever see these guys playing near by – get out and see them.
The beer list was appalling. I was being the responsible chaparone so was grateful for the presence of some mid-strength beers, but gees – I may as well have drunk water. Carlton Dry 3.5 (apparently especially made for festivals) is the worst beer I’ve drunk. It’s water with some carbonation and light dusting of beer flavouring. I’m convinced that when a beer states on a label “Smooth Finish” it really means no discerbible flavour. Once ticked off, I actually moved to real water for the rest of the day.
I’m a big fan of Bruce Springsteen. I’ve got almost all the records and I’ve seen him live in 1985 (Sydney) and 2002 (LA). He’s never really lost it and his 2012 album – Wrecking Ball – is a remarkable return to the top flight. Compared to BotF member, John however, my love of the Boss looks like a fleeting high school crush. On Bruce’s latest tour to Australia, John got tickets to all 3 Sydney concerts and tickets to an outdoor gig at Hanging Rock – a reserve 80kms north of Melbourne. This correspondent managed to snaffle one of these and a quick road trip to Melbourne and beyond ensued. BotF member Rachel and soon to become BotF member Jay, accompanied us on the hit and run mission.
For a marathon gig (3 plus hours of Bruce plus Jimmy Barnes plus The Rubens), a solid base needed to be laid. Plenty of Melbourne bars don’t open until 1pm on a Saturday including our target, the Napier, so we snuck a quick one at the Workers Club. Appropriately, the one unique I hadn’t had was a beer from 3 Ravens, a small brewery in the Melbourne suburb of Thornbury. 55 American Pale Ale is a batch release that tastes as USA as the Boss himself. Plenty of hoppy goodness that comes from 5 hop varieties. Not one for novices and a great start to the day. Must get to 3 Ravens one day.
Disappointment ensued at the Napier. A small crowd had gathered for the 1pm opening, but 20 minutes later it was still shut as tight as a drum. Jay and I had detoured slightly to the Union Club Hotel (a suburban classic) for a wedgie – but Rachel and John were ravenous. Fortunately, inner-city Melbourne is jammed with pubs and it didn’t take long before we were tucking into a fine feed at The Grace Darling Hotel in Collingwood.
Any trip to Hanging Rock must have a detour, no matter how short, to the Holgate Brewery in Woodend. It was my pleasure to introduce my companions to Keatings Hotel. I was very keen for a Millenium Falcon, but it wasn’t being served unfortunately. Next best option was a Roadtrip IPA. Always great to drink a beer at source. Plenty of Bruce concert goers were warming up in more ways than one. The atmosphere was building.
The attraction of seeing Bruce at Hanging Rock was all about the outdoors. Hanging Rock is a natural reserve and it was no surprise to see kangaroos (wallabies?) bounding around. The backdrop of the Hanging Rock was as spectacular as one could expect and seeing it change colour both during the sunset and with the lighting effects was terrific. Despite the threat of rain, the weather remained clement and it didn’t even get that cold.
Bruce was sensational. Despite the absence of three key members of the E Street Band from the last time I’d seen them, Bruce has put together as solid a band as you can imagine. Clarence needed 5 horns to replace him (including his wonderful nephew Jake Clemons), the 3 back singers were awesome and Tom Morello as the replacement for Miami Steve brings guitar virtuosity that isn’t normally a feature of a Bruce concert. His energy was awesome. From song one (Badlands) to the finale (10th Avenue Freeze Out) – he just pumps out hit after hit. His new stuff is excellent and almost all the songs from the new album can become standards in future sets. I wasn’t familiar with Pay Me My Money Down, but I’ll be getting that on the iPod shortly. His crowd surfing, his singing, his guitar playing all have the vigour of someone far younger than 63. My only quibble is that Bruce doesn’t talk much anymore. In 1985, he’d sit down on the front of the stage and tell a yarn. He was quite funny in the Sydney gig that I went to, where he discussed the unusual way Australians say “Arses” as opposed to “Asses”. It’s a minor point. He played his second ever single, Spirit in the Night, all the way through to his latest, Death to my Hometown. 39 years of music across 26 tracks. Amazing.
My 18yo travelled separately (funny that), but my other two daughters and one of their friends fanged it up to Gresford (where we camping) – pitched our tents and then got the shuttle bus to Dungog, which had added 12,000 people to its usual (about) 2,500 usual population. Dungog was heaving – both pubs were bulging – and the atmosphere was full of anticipation and bon homie. We arrived at the showground, secured a good spot (not hard) and then melted. 35 degrees celsius and the clearest of skies. The only missing was flies. It was a tribute to the concert-goers that I didn’t see a single person get carted off with heat excursion. The free water, sprinklers and the occasional spray from the fire brigade helped. That – and I reckon the crowd was filled with hardened festival goers that have endured Big Day Outs where temperatures have hit 40 degrees.
Thanks to Uncut Magazine I had heard a song from the first band – Husky. Husky are a very talented bunch of musicians with strong originals and their version of Leonard Cohen’s Lover, Lover, Lover was a ripper. I’d not heard of the next act – Willy Mason from Massachusetts – but he’ll be added to the iPod. Stripped back blues and folk – he was perfect for a time when it was hottest. My daughters were very excited by the next act. Matt Corby came to prominence on Australian Idol, but has developed into a JJJ darling and sells records. He’s gone very Jeff Buckley, which isn’t a bad thing and it was more about music than lyrics. The crowd loved him and went beserk during his hit “Brother“. I wanted to like the next act. Sarah Blasko is a highly regarded singer/songwriter in Australia. Each time I listen, though, I just can’t get into her. Same thing at Dungog. I’m missing something, because the crowd was supportive – but I ended up reading my newspaper.
Fortunately, nightfall saw the temperatures finally drop. The penultimate band was one that I had been really looking forward to – and they didn’t disappoint. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes (what a name!) are a 10 piece band that just play the most marvellous brand of rambling, foot-stomping flok rock. I would have been happy if they’d just opened with 40 Day Dream – and that’s what they opened with. They captivated the adoring crowd with a joyous, riotous performance and the interplay between lead singers Alex Ebert, Jade Castrinos and the audience was awesome. Any time horns come out is a good time and that is what Edward Sharpe et al is all about – the best possible time.
7 hours after the first act appeared, Mumford and Sons finally appeared. They’d come out during the day to welcome everyone and announce acts – but when they hit the stage the crowd noise would have been heard in Sydney. These guys are simply sensational performers and Australians just love them. It mattered not that they played new stuff, including a great cover of Paul Simon’s the Boxer – Mumford and Sons just go off. The obligatory encore occurred and the crowd enjoyed the almighty singalong that is “The Cave“. All artists returned for a raucous version of Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain – and it was all over. Just wonderful. What was remarkable was how well it all went. The vibe all day and all night was just so good. I saw almost no signs of aggro (despite some long queues) – it was just happiness central.
Now to the obligatory drink review. When it’s 35% and the sun is bearing I’d just about drink my own urine if it was cold. Fortunately that wasn’t necessary the organisers had a simple but straightforward approach to beverages – 2 Batlow Ciders and 3 Coopers. It’s probably quite sensible to lay on a Mild and Light and even though it wouldn’t be my normal choice – the Coopers Mild was a perfect beverage for the conditions. The Batlow Ciders were on tap and I gave the Cloudy a good nudge – great stuff and this will get another run this summer.
Congratulations to all involved. It might have been Dungog’s first music festival – hopefully it won’t be the last.
In all the years I hung around or lived in the Glorious Inner West, for what ever reason I never made it to The Sandringham Hotel. After having rectified that situation on Thursday night, I just can’t work out why this was. It is just a great inner-city pub. Little wonder the Whitlams wrote a song entitled “God Drinks at the Sando”. According to my mate Steve, who with me on the night, it’s had some renovations over the years. Steve played in a band called Belljar in the late ’80s and early ’90s and often performed at the Sandringham. There’s a large central bar with 3 counters and you can watch live music both upstairs and downstairs. There’s food options, but there’s no dramas if you want to pop into the classic burger shop next door.
In Sydney, there’s not many places like the Sandringham that have entertainment options 7 days a week. It’s always been about the music at the Sando, and it’s been a place to play when you are starting out as a band. You can see from the photo that the outside is looking a little tired, but you could actually achieve that look in painting classes that dominated inner west house renovations in the ’90s. I reckon it looks fine, and it will be a much shorter gap between visits.
The reason for being at the Sando was to see Back of the Ferry’s favourite band – Snaketide. The boys have been quiet of late, but hardly idle. They’ve been putting plenty of work into recording an E.P. (a term that is still relevant even though there’s not a record needle in sight), and working in yet another bass player. This correspondent is a member of what is becoming a Queenesque sized club of former bass players of Snaketide – but their latest is a good ‘un. Snaketide have as good a rhythm section as any band (though Muzza’s that good a drummer even me and Muzza could be regarded as a solid rhythm section) and it provides a great foundation for the rest of the band. Ben and Ken are terrifically complementary as guitarists and have developed a fine sound and more hooks than Robson Green’s tackle box. Myles was in strong voice and they’ve improved all their songs and added some new ones. Keep an eye out for Snaketide on Facebook and we’ll provide some info on the EP.
The unrelated beer story is unusual. It is very rare to discover a beer in a suburban bottle shop that you can’t find on either the @Untappd or the Beer Advocate database, but that is what happened to me with this 500ml bottle of Pražačka. It was lurking in a fridge at the back of a bottlo on Victoria Rd, Chatswood. $3.50 for a 500ml – 4% “Ceske Pivo” or “Light Beer”. After plenty of hunting around, I was able to find a Russian website for Pražačka. What I can ascertain is that Pražačka is a beer brewed in the Czech Republic exclusively for Russian consumption (hence the Russian website). It ranks as seventh in imported beers to Russia by volume. It sounds a little like Hooten beer being manufactured in Holland, purely for Australian consumption. Well, it’s not longer exclusive to the Russians as we Aussies can get it from a little bottlo in Chatswood. What’s it like? It’s a very malty Euro lager – potable – but not one to go out of your way to travel to Chatswood for.
Bruce Spence, gyro captain, famously uttered these words out the back of Broken Hill as Max beat the snake to get at the choppers fuel tanks….Dave Faulkner did the same to the muso’s of Snaketide earlier this year.
Back in February, Rat Faulder of Snaketide and part-time snake, Russ Clarke were joined on stage by Dave Faulkner of the Hoodoo Gurus. Dave can be seen here ripping into the final throws of …..a thousand ….a thousand ….a thouSAND MILES AWAAAAYYYYY hey hey hey…a thousand…
In the photo on the left your botfa correspondant is at rear holding the sax doing the falsetto backing vocal…..and leaning in to some emotion at right, with the Rat picking strings and teeth in tandem.
BotF was very excited when Tony from Toowoomba graced our shores and indeed the Back of the Ferry. Swept up in the excitement was a review of Tuborg Green, which upon reflection was very terse and very harsh. With it still being on special at Mr Liquor at Circular Quay, we decided to give it another go.
It certainly isn’t “crap”, but it is also not memorable. Very Euro and very malty. On a hot day, this would be eminently sessionable and if it remains on special at Mr Liquor it may get another run. Tuborg is a Danish beer that was founded in Copenhagen. It has been subsequently been taken over by Carlsberg but has maintained very strong independent branding and is extremely popular throughout Europe. They make a big deal about their “innovative” ring pull top, but Coopers gave that up years ago when they realised the quality of the beer was more important.
Without any segue at all, I have to report that I saw Bob Geldof live on Sunday night and got to hear I Don’t Like Mondays. Bob was not that keen to perform but really nailed it. He then performed a rollicking, Springsteenesque version of Rat Trap that demonstrated the quality of his band. A stand out was Vince Lampard, his fiddler, recorder player and back up singer – whose string vest will live in my memory for some time.
Tuesday night on the BotF was a pretty wet and windy evening. It is starting to get to the time when you start to warm yourself up on the inside to ward off the cold and a 500ml German will do the trick. DAB stands for Dortmunder Actien Brauerei and the beer is as perfunctory as the name. Yah – it is a beer from Dortmund, it is alcoholic and it is wet. It ticks all the boxes and comes in a 500ml can – but with cheaper similar drops – this might be the one and only run for DAB on the BotF.
Wednesday’s trip home was bliss. Sydney’s grip on warm weather is being well and truly prised open, but tonight, whilst not balmy, was clear and temperate. The 5.30pm is definitely the best for eye candy with the sunset looking wonderful this evening.
Hawkwind got their name from founder Nik Turner’s unappealing habit of clearing his throat and farting at the same time. Dave Brock is the only founding member still in the band that was formed over 40 years and at 69 is looking pretty fit for an old acid head. The band has had over 30 members including renowned science fiction author Michael Moorcock and 6’2″ tall, 52″ busted, Stacia who performed naked interpretive dance and joined the band because she was available at the time.
Well I was a big fan of ‘Space Ritual’ back in the vinyl era and was joined by a few hundred aging hippies, punks and alternatives at the Manning Bar, Sydney University to have a look at the band that is credited as linking the hippie and punk cultures.
A couple of excellent interpretive dancers (thankfully not Stacia who must be 60) provided great entertainment while the old blokes belted out the riffs. More visuals projected on a back screen were fresh from Kubrick’s 2001.
Manning Bar has a good beer range but $7.50 for a plastic cup of James Squire Golden Ale is a bit rich for this punter.
Overall a great show and a night to remember although a bit disappointed that they didn’t play Orgone Accumulator
Freshwater Surf Life Saving Club was the venue for Snaketide‘s latest performance. The Freshwater SLSC is a sensational venue with ocean views, a big room for the band and plenty of areas to get away from it if you need to. The right sized crowd for the venue had assembled and Snaketide put on two outstanding sets.
The theme of the evening -a fund raiser for the Captain Courageous Bone Marrow Failure Research charity – was 80′s beach party. Your correspondent hasn’t thrown out much of his stuff from that era and it wasn’t a stretch. I’m not sure what beach the Snaketide boys went to in the ’80s – but glam metal was more the look achieved. I don’t think any musician has achieved the look adopted by Tarants, Snaketide’s 6th and best bass-player, but it will stick in my mind for some time. Derek Smalls would have been in awe.
Splitting Snaketide’s two sets was an appearance by one of the greatest songwriters and performers Australia has ever produced. He performed “My Girl” and “Like, Wow, Wipeout” with some of Snaketide and then gave a solo rendition of “Come Anytime” and the Gurus greatest tune (in my humble opinion) “1000 Miles Away”. Despite the burden of coming back after Dave Faulkner, Snaketide produced a barnstorming finish and their closing trifecta always cheers the punters – First Date, Mexico and Overdrive. Listen to Mexico on Unearthed.
An occupational hazard of performing live is getting the pre-game Dutch Courage balance correct. It was a gamble to go with a stubbie of Toohey’s Extra Dry Platinum, given its powerful 6.5%, but that was balanced later with a few stubbies of appalling Blue Tongue Premium Light. This beer’s a bit of mystery. It has no web presence other than a blurb on the Lion Nathan brands page, and I can’t recall any advertising for it. Its baby brother, Toohey’s Extra Dry or TED, is the 5th biggest selling beer in Australia and has a trendy (but crappy) interactive site. Hard to work out why they are quiet about it. It’s no worse that TED and you can actually taste the extra kick. A couple of BotF’s shared an 8 pack (not a misprint) when the Manly Ferry was taking almost 40 minutes due to wharf repairs and we both knew we’d been on a ferry trip.
BotF can report first hand that rehearsals for Snaketide’s big gig on Saturday 12th February at Freshwater SLSC are going very well. This correspondent sat in on a couple of songs and the boys are hitting their stride and will be in full cry come Saturday night. There’s still tickets available and if you are interested let me know via comments.
When playing saxophone it is always important to keep one’s embouchure wet and supple. First up was the third of the trio of beers snaffled from Brunswick. I really, really wanted to like this beer – Moritz. A great bottle-top, a great logo, a great story about the founding of the beer by an Alsatian immigrant and its maintenance by 6 generations pre-dispose one very favourably. The website doesn’t compromise either offering only Spanish or Catalan. Disappointingly, this wasn’t good. An inoffensive first taste went downhill rapidly with a really metallic after taste.
In 1856, an Alsatian by the name of Louis Moritz moved to Barcelona and started a beer called Moritz. The brewery went broke in the ’70s and was restarted a few years ago by descendants of Mr Moritz, albeit in Zaragoza. It looks like they’ve spent more time on the website than on the beer. Give it ago and make up your own mind – but I’ve only ever seen it once.
The rehearsal was long and embouchure moisture needed to be maintained. The second beer called to this noble purpose was a German beer called Hansa. Apparently if you want cheap piss in Germany, Hansa’s the go. That hasn’t translated to its cost in Australia, where a case is $69. That said, a case of Henninger is $32 (330ml), where as 24 500ml bottles of Hansa is $69 – so the difference is not as marked as it first appears. If its a cheap beer, its a pretty good one. Now owned by the Dortmunder Actien Brauerei the brand lives on as a cheapie and has been widely exported and is brewed in weird places like Namibia. This was a good solid Euro beer – pretty clean and good bitterness.
BotF’s favourite band is Snaketide and they are playing a big gig from 8pm on 12 February 2011 at the Freshwater SLSC. They are supporting the legendary Dave Faulkner from the Hoodoo Gurus, whom BotF had the good fortune to see live in 2009, which was the subject of an early BotF post. He is quite superb solo and you are guaranteed to sing your lungs out. Snaketide are at the top of their game as well. It’s a fundraiser and tickets are $65 which includes beer, champagne and food.
If you want to come, just add a comment to this post to let me know.
Two BotF correspondents had the opportunity to attend the taping of the final episode of The Trophy Room - a sports quiz show on the ABC. We were unable to get photos of the celebs in action, but got up relatively close to Pat Cash, Cathy Freeman, Pete Murray and David Thornton. The last bloke you wouldn’t have heard of – but he is a funny stand-up. BotF agreed that Peter Helliar, the host, is funnier than we gave him credit for, and hopes you may have that Amanda Shalala is sneaky cute are unfounded. It will be interesting to see the unedited version.
With it being hotter in Sydney than Dean Jones jockstrap in Chennai, we popped into the Agincourt in Ultimo for some well needed pre-show libations. Nothing special about the Agincourt other than memories of previous slaughterings in uni and post uni days. Simply a pokies joint with a bar thrown in.
Royal Dutch Post Horn is a beer from the archives. Yet another cheap import from funnily enough the Netherlands. The only thing worth noting is the name – otherwise el blando.