Harvest 2012

The weather was so beautiful and bright on Sunday that I haven’t edited any of my photos.

Harvest is the one festival that I’ve been the most excited about this year.  I bought tickets the minute they became available, and when the festival finally took place last weekend, it did not disappoint.  As the trains weren’t running on the Werribee line [due to track works – a sarcastic thank-you to PTV], on Sunday, Dave, Glenn and I drove across the West Gate Bridge and towards Werribee Park [well, Dave drove, and was kind enough to offer myself and Glenn a lift – a genuine thank-you to Dave].

[1] Los Campesinos!; [2] The beautiful parklands on which the festival took place with bonus art.

The first band that I caught once we finally made it inside [the lines at the actual festival weren’t the issue, it was the traffic build-up when exiting the freeway] was Los Campesinos! whose performance was happy and energetic.  They seemed absolutely thrilled to be performing for us, and their enthusiasm was contagious.

“Bands will be doing that all day. Don’t fall for it. It’s an easy cheer”

– Gareth Campesinos! after the crowd enthusiastically cheered at the mention of Australia.

[1] The Secret Garden – one of the many little areas set up around the festival grounds; [2] The ‘La Toosh’ stage was on top of an old French tram with a crêperie underneath!

We were lucky to have perfect weather on Sunday – not too hot, but sunny enough to stay warm.  [Unfortunately for me, it was also sunny enough to get burnt, but that was my fault for exposing so much skin].  Werribee Park was a beautiful location for the festival, although I was a little concerned that a drunk punter might attempt to swim in the lake at some point throughout the day [but that didn’t happen, as far as I’m aware].

Harvest had lots of little areas set up, with artwork and other performances, including a circus arts tent.  Next to the Secret Garden was a giant projector screen, which later became host to a DJ, and had a dancefloor set up next to it.

While checking out the available merch [each tent had band t-shirts specific to that specific stage], we caught a little bit of Dexys‘ set.  From what I saw/heard, they came across as sleazy middle-aged men, so we quickly moved on.

[1] The Dandy Warhols; [2] Silversun Pickups

I was a little disappointed with The Dandy Warhols‘ performance.  They lacked energy, and Courtney Taylor-Taylor looked like he’d rather be anywhere else but on stage.  About halfway through the set [after an absolutely awful rendition of “We Used to Be Friends”, but a not-half-bad “You Were the Last High”] he explained that he’d spent the previous night in hospital, which did partly excuse his behaviour.

I think a serious life threatening illness is really good for my pallor.

– Courtney Taylor-Taylor attempting to make light of his hospital stint.

The highlight of their set was, of course, “Bohemian Like You”, which had the crowd suitably excited.  I wish they’d played “Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth [Heroin is So Passé]”, but they didn’t, so I’ll have to save it for my Songs That Bands Didn’t Play at Harvest mix [which is an actual thing that I will be posting sometime in the next week, because there were quite a few awesome songs that I wanted to hear, but bands didn’t play.  Quite a few of them are by Cake].

After the Dandys, Glenn and I headed over to The Windmill Stage to check out Silversun Pickups.  We didn’t watch their whole set, but what we saw was good.  Silversun Pickups are a band whose crowds often confuse me, because I consider them to be quite a girly indie band, yet they attract a very masculine crowd.  Nobody else, seems to think this is odd, however – including both Glenn and Dave, who believe that Silversun Pickups fit into more of a standard “rock” category.  Maybe I’ve just got the wrong impression here…

Marching band!

While we were getting food, we encountered The Itchy Feet marching band – just one of the many roving pieces of “entertainment” to be found [or to find you].  Other “delights” included women dressed as angels with faux-fur pubic hair hidden under their hoop skirts, who went around flashing unsuspecting festival-goers.  I witnessed one angel stand over a man who was napping on the ground – giving him a lovely surprise when he woke.  It was fun to watch – but maybe not so fun to experience.

[1] Cajun chips with lime mayo; [2] Glenn watching Mike Patton’s Mondo Cane

To say that the food was good would be an understatement.  After the tales of last year’s festival with its never ending lines, I was a little weary, but AJ Maddah and co. had certainly stepped things up a notch.  There were more than enough food stalls, offering a wide variety of chips and burgers and burritos and whatever it is that the Hare Krishnas serve.  Every place had at least one decent vegetarian option.  My only criticism would be of the soft drink selection, in that there was no Diet Coke available [only real Coke and Coke Zero], and it was only in bottles, not cans.  Cans keep the drink colder for longer, people!  And you can mark up the prices more!  But of course, these are just trivial things, and I was obviously able to survive quite well the way things were.

The soundtrack to lunch was provided by Mike Patton’s Mondo Cane – an odd performance, featuring the Faith No More frontman singing Italian pop music from the 50s and 60s, accompanied by a small orchestra [featuring a man with braided sideburns playing a theremin].  I was sitting in the shade for the start of his set, but the music enticed me to walk over to The Great Lawn to check things out properly – and I’m quite glad that I did.  Mondo Cane ended up being one of my favourite sets of the whole day.  Mike Patton’s vocals were clear and strong, and he sang with what appeared to be a fairly decent Italian accent [I don’t speak Italian, so I can’t really tell how good it was – but he rolled his Rs quite nicely].  Most of the songs were arranged traditionally, but a couple of them had an added rock beat, or featured some vocals shouted through Mike Patton’s favourite on-stage prop – the megaphone.

[1] Cake; [2] Ben Folds Five

Cake were one of the bands that I was very much looking forward to.  Opening with “Frank Sinatra”, followed by “Never There”, they played a strong set from the very beginning.  The band recognised that many people in the audience would not be familiar with “Sick of You”, the lead single off their new album, so we were taught the chorus and led in a bit of a sing-along.  It was a great way to keep the crowd engaged during a song that they didn’t know.  In fact, keeping the crowd engaged was something that Cake were incredibly good at, which is why their set stands out to me as possibly the most memorable one of the day.

This is a fleeting moment. Soon we will all be dead and you will not have lived a moment with your face in the camera.

– John McCrea to an audience member who insisted on filming the entire set with his digital camera.

“Sheep Go to Heaven” allowed for another crowd sing-along.  They finished things up with a fake encore, pretending to leave the stage before playing “The Distance”.  It was good, very good… but: they didn’t play “Short Skirt Long Jacket”!  I don’t quite understand why a band would play their biggest radio hit [in Australia] at a festival, but for some reason they omitted it from their set.  Sources tell me, however, that it was played on Saturday.  But not Sunday.  Strange.

Ben Folds Five were up next, and were just as brilliant as I’d expected them to be.  “Brick” bought tears to my eyes.  “Draw a Crowd” made me dance.  And their closing number, “Song for the Dumped”, had me singing/shouting along.

Beck

Beck was Beck, and therefore the people who love Beck enjoyed his set very much.  I’m not the biggest fan of his [aside from a few of the probably rather obvious “hits” and songs that are played at Mr McClelland’s Finishing School], so I didn’t stick around for the whole thing.

[1] Ice-cream!; [2] Iggy Pop-inspired neon signs; [3] The windmill from which The Windmill Stage took its name

While everybody else was still watching Beck, the lines for the gourmet ice-cream stall were the shortest that they’d been all day, so Glenn and I took the opportunity to buy a cone each.  I had the salted butter caramel, and it was absolutely divine.  By this point in the day, it was starting to get dark.  As my camera doesn’t do terribly well in low lighting [except when Glenn is photographing fire and windmills], this is when the quality of my photos started to greatly decline.

After a change in time so that their set wouldn’t overlap with Beck’s, we saw Grizzly Bear at The Windmill Stage.  Their set was mainly made up of songs from their most recent album [and therefore songs that I didn’t know], so I found it a little bland until they played “Two Weeks” [of course], which made everybody happy.

Sigur Ros

The music of Sigur Ros has a rather cinematic quality to it.  I think of it as soundtrack music, in that it works wonderfully when accompanied by captivating visuals.  Otherwise, I find myself getting quite distracted when listening to it by itself.  I can’t focus on the music alone.  They did, however, play brilliantly, and the very large crowd appeared to be content.

Meanwhile, Santigold was over on the other stage, accompanied by a couple of [unnecessary] dancers.  I stuck around for “LES Artistes”, but didn’t find her performance to be terribly compelling.  We left before the end of her set.

The biggest challenge of the day was actually getting out.  Firstly, out of the actual festival area – where there was very little lighting, narrow pathways, and a lot of people trying to move in the same direction at the same time – and secondly, out of the car park.  We sat in what appeared to be a completely stationary line for about half an hour [I think, I wasn’t really keeping time], before someone opened another gate and we were able to exit through the bus lane.  We were lucky, however, and I’m certain that there were many people who had to wait even longer to get out.

Me.

Harvest is a boutique festival made for music snobs.  With a line-up chock full of “credible” artists, and no filler, they know how to cater to their audience.  Overall, I had a brilliant day, as did everyone else I know who attended the festival.  There was great music, great food, and great weather [which I know was just pure luck, but it still added to the enjoyment of the day].  Aside from the things I’ve already mentioned, my only other criticism would be the lack of shade available near the two main stages – particularly The Windmill Stage.  Spending so many hours in direct sunlight isn’t terribly fun [and led to my back getting burnt, despite the fact that I was very careful with my sunscreen].

Still, I think I’ve found my new favourite festival.  Harvest 2013, I can’t wait!

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