Review: 2022 Harvest Rock @ Rymill & King Rodney Parks (Adelaide) Part 2

The inaugural Harvest Rock festival was staged in Adelaide 19-20 November, 2022. © Topbunk
Sarah lives in the Adelaide Hills and loves music, the arts, walking her dog and disappearing into the forest for hours at a time. She's a fan live music and writes reviews plus interviews with creatives about what inspires them.

Stepping through a giant, cherry red mouth into the Harvest Rock festival site on the second afternoon (20 November) of a ridiculously wet weekend I was feeling fresh, energised, and up the challenge.

I had dressed in layers with solid gumboots and a waterproof jacket ready to combat the quick transitions from downpours to sun. Others were less concerned about practicality wearing shorts, canvas shoes, long velvet dresses and leather jackets.

The colour and variety of festival get-up was impressive, reflecting the eclectic mix of ages and demographics attracted to see a line-up that was ambitious in its breadth and appeal.

Festival entry was seamless and welcoming, a credit to the staff waiting in blustery conditions, and a very short walk landed me at the Vines stage where Holy Holy were creating a soundscape of flawless layers with Tim Carroll's voice ringing out perfectly and setting a chilled pace to explore.

Despite the mud, the vision of festival organisers was clear and creative. Discrete and uniquely designed spaces offered seating and shelter, entertainment, music, and abundant choices of food and drinks, making it fun to wander and discover.

A two-storey bar overlooked the Vines stage with punters enjoying great views and VIPs were treated to raised platforms back from both stages with extra shelter when the rain came in.

But standing back was not my plan for Genesis Owusu. Instead I landed front and centre as he kicked into gear.

Genesis Owusu
Genesis Owusu - image ©

Genesis is one of those artists who converts you to fandom at his live shows, giving everything to his performance with high energy and theatrics.

Resplendent in a red suit with his goon squad in tow, he worked the crowd into a frenzy pumping out hit after hit, with highlights 'GTFO', 'Good Times', 'Get Inspired’ and 'WUTD' getting everyone singing and dancing along. He clearly loved every minute as did his goons, who skipped and danced all over the stage with huge smiles.

The festival footprint was quite small, so an easy five-minute walk between stages took me to the start of The Living End with two banging hits, 'Tainted Love' and 'All Fall Down', promising a high energy vibe for their set.

The Living End
The Living End - image ©

I was tempted to settle in but had promised myself a first-time experience of Angus & Julia Stone. They didn't disappoint, dishing up gorgeous harmonies, impressive musicianship, and soul fulfilling sounds.

The setlist was scattered with covers and originals, including a beautiful rendition of 'The Streets Of Your Town', 'Private Lawns' featuring a cracking banjo solo, 'Uptown Folks' accompanied by mind-melting visuals, Sam Smith's 'Stay With Me', and hits 'Big Jet Plane' and 'Chateau'.

It was great to watch the interaction between band members as they made their way through the set and had fun with it. A downpour didn't dampen their energy nor that of the enraptured crowd.

Angus Julia Stone
Angus & Julia Stone - image ©

The Teskey Brothers were my next stop. Their sound is timeless, as old as it is new, and fronted by the inimitable Josh Teskey who delivers husky, velvety vocals that speak of love, loss and everything in between.

The band is tight, with Sam Teskey up front on guitar and a powerhouse horn section making the soul-blues sound come alive.

Set highlights were 'Say You'll Do' and 'So Caught Up', plus John Lennon's 'Jealous Guy' as a cherry on top with people happily dancing in calf-deep mud front of stage.

The Teskey Brothers
The Teskey Brothers - image ©

From there it was a run over to the Harvest Stage for a chance to catch The Avalanches in full flight. Irresistibly danceable, it was refreshing to catch them playing a set focused on latest album 'We Will Love You', while touching on enough old faves from 'Since I Left You' and 'Wildflower' to ensure long-term fans were satisfied.

The music was accompanied by fantastic visuals, high energy jumping around on stage, and a lighting rig working overtime, which unfortunately didn't have full impact in the daylight.

As the strains of 'Since I Left You' finished it was back to a dry-ish bit of ground in front of the Vines stage for Hot Chip, ready to dance.

I'd been in a state of high anticipation to hear the synthpop band for the first time, and they were such a joy, veering from pure tech bounce to distorted guitar noise, with the distinct voices of Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard taking us on the journey.

The crowd were there for it and as the rain came down danced harder with huge smiles. There was a tonne of highlights in a set that delivered the goods, including 'Ready For The Floor', 'Over And Over' and set finale 'I Feel Better'.

Hot Chip
Hot Chip - image ©

Buzzing from an hour of dance, it was time to let the psychedelic funk of Texan band Khruangbin wash over me. Far from a chill out, it was impossible to resist the groove and clearly the rest of the crowd felt the same as the disco vibes reigned supreme.

In the break before Crowded House were due to take to the Harvest Stage the audience swelled to fill the space.

There was a palpable sense of excitement, erupting into cheers as Neil Finn walked to the front of stage wearing a velvet blue jacket, with Nick Seymour in a kilt slinging his bass, Finn's sons Liam and Ely taking guitar and drum duty and Mitchell Froom on keys.

After a quick hello, they launched into 'Distant Universe' setting the pace for a set that would relentlessly bless us with hit after hit, the type of concert where every intro note evokes a squeak of excitement because you know just how good the song will be.

Crowded House
Crowded House - image ©

Neil Finn was the ultimate showman, chatting between songs, laughing with bandmates, and singing in a voice as steady as ever; close your eyes and you could be listening to an album cut.

The rest of the band was fine-tuned, following every cue with a comfort and confidence borne of knowing songs for decades. The audience was also in fine voice, singing every word, taking the reins when Finn stepped back to enjoy the chorus.

There were moments of silliness thrown in as the band improvised a song dedicated to Matt the security guard for leading the crowd in dance moves, and the inclusion of a few lines from 'The Sound Of Music' and a reference to an Anzac biscuit gone wrong. It all adds up to something charming, special and unforgettable.

Choosing song highlights is near impossible, it was simply a masterclass in poetry and song. 'Four Seasons In One Day' seemed distinctly appropriate; shouting back "what d'ya know?" during 'Mean To Me' was a moment I'd always needed in my life; drawing a collective breath they played the unmistakable starting strains of 'Don't Dream It's Over'; high energy dancing in the rain with strangers to 'Chocolate Cake'; hearing 'Weather With You' and reminiscing on the many times I've sung that song to my son; and finishing on the perfect note with 'Don't Dream It's Over'.

It was clear most people there had a connection, a story, a moment where the music of Crowded House has soundtracked their lives, and this performance meant we shared one of them. Perfection.

Many years ago, I swore to myself that I wouldn't stop going to music festivals, even if I grew out of the expected demographic. But, to my surprise and joy, they seem to have grown with me. At least, Harvest Rock fit the bill. It brought together a blend of new music ripe for discovery, along with the 'old stuff' that I know and love.

Crowd Stage Night
Image ©

Not only did the festival deliver the goods in terms of the musical programme, sound and lighting production, but it also hit the mark on facilities. There were no long lines for toilets, food, or the bar and each section of the site was well considered and interesting.

Beyond that, everyone from punters to stallholders to security had a positive attitude. It made such a difference in sometimes difficult conditions to see smiles and consideration.

In the thick of a crowd people were happy to make way, dance, and generally make sure everyone was having a great time. It was great to be a part of, and I certainly hope it returns next year.

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