Since the 1920s, the showgrounds in Wayville have been a farmers’ mecca, a place for cattle parades and cow milking competitions at the Royal Adelaide Show.
In the '90s and '00s, it was synonymous with Australia’s biggest travelling musical roadshow: Big Day Out.Click here for more photos.
Those two worlds collided in 2017 as the rural, music festival, Groovin The Moo, migrated from last year’s Oakbank paddock to the outskirts of the CBD. Instead of Babe: A Pig In The City, we searched for the highlights of Moo: A Gig In The City.
While synths and dirty bass-drops have dominated the alternative airwaves for almost a decade, it seems the guitars are back with every era of the guitar age on show on the main stage.The Darkness - image © Erin Eustace
Violent Soho opened their headlining set with 'Viceroy', a hit transported from the mid-1990s grunge era; The Smith Street Band were purveyors of '80s working-class pub rock; while The Darkness represented the counterpoint to this dour ethos, embracing the splendour of hair metal.Tash Sultana - image © Erin Eustace
Tash Sultana recalled Hendrix with her solo freestyle-jams; and The Wombats, once praised by Sir Paul McCartney, brought their modern twist to Britpop. The six string may never reclaim the mantle of the alpha male in the modern music jungle, but it is no longer extinct.
Northeast Party Tent
The expansive Moulin Rouge tent bulged like an over-inflated balloon in the early afternoon as Amy Shark unleashed ‘Adore’; luminescent iPhones swayed like a swarm of jellyfish in the air as fans sang “right hand slugger” with adulation. It was another world beneath the blue canopy, a welcoming shelter from the drizzle and gust of the April day.The Wombats - image © Erin Eustace
Inflatable snow globes floated during Northeast Party House’s set before ultimately bursting under the heat of their funk, showering fans in confetti. Thundamentals encouraged their Thundacats to turn their fists into a peace sign and they readily obliged while British bone crunchers Architects called for the opposite: a circle pit.
There was no respite for weary legs between sets, as the DJs kept the dancefloor rocking.
Welcome to the Jungle
While the sun was resolutely shielded by a mass of grey clouds, audiences were aurally transported to the tropical Amazon by Sydney dance duo Pnau. Their first single in years, ‘Chameleon’, was inspired by shamanic South American medicine. Their set had their tribe of followers stomping mud holes in the ground.Pnau - image © Erin Eustace
The Jungle Giants, raised in the humidity of Brisbane, channelled Talking Heads and Devo with their inspired indie pop. They dropped a well-received new track 'On Your Way Down' as the sun set.Montaigne - image © Erin Eustace
Montaigne, a regular on this year’s festival circuit, looked like a bird of paradise or a professional wrestler from the 1980s, draped as she was in a green, feathery coat. She then stripped down to a The Goodies t-shirt and went thump with hit after hit.
Obstacle Courses and Treasure Hunts
After a morning of heavy rain, it would have been appropriate to rename the Wombat’s song ‘Jump Into the Bog’. The thoroughfare between stages was a slick and perilous journey. It was gumboot weather.
Some brave souls wore white pants, with a few remaining perplexingly un-splattered. We can only assume access to a magic carpet or a retinue of servants. Image © Erin Eustace
This year, GTM organisers imposed a $1 deposit on cans, creating a micro-economy for entrepreneurial scavengers. Eight recycled cans = one free drink. The Showgrounds were undoubtedly tidier because of this policy.
Cow Wave or Moo Day Out?
For those old enough to recall Big Day Out, it was impossible not to make comparisons. BDO had many more stages and utilised every nook and cranny of the sprawling Showgrounds. GTM did feel a little cramped in comparison, as all the major action took place within throwing distance.Image © Erin Eustace
Having said this, GTM was a refreshing retreat from the abundance of boutique festivals that have proliferated in recent times; some genres of music require monolithic stages and mountainous amplify stacks. Soundwave’s departure left a void; there was no place for the shudder and crunch of Architects or the punk anarchy of Against Me! GTM was an asylum for Soundwave refugees.
Given the enormous attendance for an event that took place on a Friday, perhaps like guitar-driven rock, the mega festival has simply been lying dormant, awaiting fruitful conditions for a return?
Adelaide music fans are thirsty for an annual CBD event like this; it is a demand that should be milked.Click here for more photos.