Review: 2022 Harvest Rock @ Rymill & King Rodney Parks (Adelaide) Part 1

The inaugural Harvest Rock festival was staged in Adelaide 19-20 November, 2022.

Harvest Rock was held at Rymill Park (Muralawirrapurka) and King Rodney Park (Ityamai-Itpina) in Adelaide (19-20 November) across two stages, the lesser Vines Stage and the Harvest Stage, as well as the Little Harvest children's area, with the option of an intimate high-end dining experience lunch if so desired.

Early Saturday afternoon, musical proceedings commence on the Harvest stage somewhat appropriately with Australian Rock Collective presenting Neil Young's 'Harvest' album live.

Playing through the classic country rock LP, the band cover the album respectfully but without attempting to copy it. Alternating lead vocals are handled by Darren Middleton (Powderfinger), Kram (Spiderbait) and Davey Lane (You Am I), and it is a mellow start before Davey introduces: "Are you ready for the country. . . because it's time to go," and the band go all honky tonk.

The band is pared down to four for the abstract sparseness of 'There's A World'. The guitar distortion at the end of 'Alabama' bleeds into Kram's solo acoustic introduction to 'The Needle And The Damage Done' before the set ends with the epic country-rock apocalypse of 'Words (Between The Lines Of Age)' when the band let loose, allowing themselves less restraint than the performance of the early half of the album.

Australian Rock Collective - image ©

Allen Stone on the Vines Stage started his set with a couple of very American, laidback, soulful songs with a funky drummer backbeat and room for guitar and organ soloing that although just rising above middle of the road, seemed in the early afternoon with the skies still blue, a nice festival fit to evoke cheerful, feel-good vibes among the audience.

On the Harvest stage, Marlon Williams played a set that transcended time and space, embracing his Maori heritage as well as a love for the purer music of an earlier time.

He commenced with 'E Mawahe', a solo a capella song (in Maori) before his band joined him while he sang in a timeless country wail on 'Easy Does It'.

'Soft Boys' saw Marlon practice some hip-swivelling dance moves and included a uniquely amusing microphone drop lending Marlon the chance to almost do the splits to continue singing while physically keeping up with the stand sliding downwards.

Marlon Williams
Marlon Williams - image ©

During 'River Rival', he prowled the stage unadorned by guitar. It is more experimental, based in a robotic, drum machine-beat that builds to an all to soon ending. 'Thinking Of Nina' has an early '80s sound while 'Party Boy' is a primal, pounding exercise in atonality.

'Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore' is prefaced as a duet that he now sings "by myself", which evokes sympathetic laughter from the audience. He introduces 'Promises' as "written by Barry Gibb, performed by Barbara Streisand", and has Marlon down on one knee while the band sing-along like early Gibb brothers. The set closes with the almost encore of the Smokey Robinson cover of 'Ooh Baby Baby'.

You Am I on the Vines Stage commence with Tim Rogers dressed in a bright red cowboy nudie suit announcing "let's do it" as the band launch into 'Rumble'.

Adopting a faux American accent in-between songs, he looks something like a modern day Keith Richards while continuing the tradition of full-arm swing guitar playing pioneered by Pete Townsend.

From this short portion of their set, it is immediately obvious that You Am I continue to embrace a bundle of fun rock clichés that they always have.

You Am I
You Am I - image ©

On the Harvest stage, Meg Mac is dressed elegantly in a dark grey pinstripe suit with a tie-thin black choker scarf. Early on in her set of beats and gospel she struggles with the wind, but this is only the start of the weather woes as there is sudden downpour during her performance and a scramble to cover for those in the audience who are able to.

It is not the only time over the weekend that the lyrical content of the songs seems thematically coincidental with the weather as one of Meg's songs performed being 'Something In The Water'.

Meg is enthused as she performs late set highlight 'Understand' before finishing with 'Never Be'.

Meg Mac
Meg Mac - image ©

The Goanna band is introduced perhaps for the last time and Shane Howard notes that it is appropriate to be ending here.

With Midnight Oil having completed their run and now Goanna, this signals something of an end to an era of overt political activism in Australian rock. Performing the 'Spirit Of Place' album, they are accompanied by big screen visuals of home movie tour footage.

Tones And I makes good use of the stage with the seemingly haunted Madhouse set. Toni Watson flanked by a band on drums, bass and keys and at times accompanied by an up-to-fourteen-strong congregation of choir and dancers and comes across as a real talent beyond just 'Dance Monkey', throwing herself into the performance.

She commences with the timely ironic 'Never See The Rain', later performing 'Cloudy Day'. Tones commands the stage, not least when she is on her own, unadorned by the choir.

The set becomes akin to a therapy session as Toni opens up about her early struggles – the whole audience goes quiet and listens intently. She sings 'Lonely' and it appears almost as though she is going to break down and cry.

In the middle of this emotional roller coaster of a set, there is an 'introductory' video before she plays solo atop the balcony of the Madhouse starting with a jungle beat cover of 'Forever Young' that drowns out audience participation.

The choir returns for the zombie apocalypse themed performance of 'Kids Are Coming', Toni joining their front of stage sway back and forth as security guard Matt, facing the audience in the photo pit, subtly joining in.

A cover of 'Diamonds' is genuinely uplifting before she puts on a fedora hat thrown on stage and announces the next song as 'Dance Monkey'.

Courtney Barnett
Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett - image ©

Over on the Vines stage, Courtney Barnett has a devoted following and there is complimentary appreciation between songs but little onstage banter otherwise as she cuts to the chase and plays through their set, Dave Mudie keeping perfect time on drums while Courtney wrangles squeals of feedback out of her guitar at every opportunity and is later joined onstage by Kurt Vile.

The Harvest stage is surrounded by fans eagerly anticipating The Lumineers who commence their set of anthemic pseudo folk-rock with 'Brightside', then continue the weekend tradition of performing weather-themed songs with a brief cover of Creedance Clearwater Revivals 'Who'll Stop The Rain'.

Charismatic frontman Wesley Schultz at times has the attention taken from him by his co-conspirator Jeremiah Frakes' occasional physical feats of endurance littered throughout the set.

Kurt Vile may be unfamiliar to many assembled for his performance but his laidback approach and seemingly stream of consciousness lyrics over stoner guitar noodling (a lazy but appropriate general description) is fitting for those wanting to wind down before the final salvo of first day events.

Alongside well received songs 'Loading Zones' and 'Bassackwards', he plays a welcome prolonged 'Walking On A Pretty Day' with extended fuzz guitar soloing and teases he will be back tomorrow with the Avalanches.

Kurt Vile
Kurt Vile - image ©

The Black Crowes warm up the audience, sounding how they would have more than 30 years ago when their debut album that they are belatedly commemorating, 'Shake Your Money Maker' was released, Chris Robinson not having lost any vocal ability over that span of time, keeping the audience waiting for 'Remedy' until the end.

While it is undeniable that Jack White and band performed a captivating set, it was all over the place, with as many songs performed as there was a cacophony of riffing, jams and extended outros.

Following the opening onslaught, Jack plays the part of a delirious preacher between songs. White Stripes songs are scattered amongst the set including 'Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground', and 'Fell In Love With A Girl' but otherwise it is his solo and some group material with forays into piano, acoustic guitar and upright bass accompaniment.

Jack White
Jack White - image ©

After an hour, there is a break and an encore of sorts with the last third of the set commencing with a near quarter of an hour performance of 'Steady As She Goes' including audience participation.

He refers to Adelaide as the Goth capital and dedicates 'What's The Trick' to a girl he met here once, "a vampire who played banjo," before finishing with the eagerly anticipated 'Seven Nation Army'.

Adelaide art collective Slow Mango's world music-inspired funk was first up on the Harvest Stage on Sunday and was appreciated by an appropriately sized crowd for this time early in the day.

Another local band TOWNS (or "barely a band" as they described themselves during their set) open proceedings for the day on the Vines Stage with their ramshackle punk androgyny and DIY aesthetic (drummer Dan is wearing a skirt that appears to be made out of discarded linen offcuts).

TOWNS - image ©

The duo of Aston and Dan on guitar and drums respectively and shared vocals are genuinely surprised they have any audience at all. Theirs is an entertaining set and the between song banter is endearing.

As well as a Smashmouth cover of 'All Star', they introduce one of their songs as "another song about something that all our songs are about – being afraid of people," and play out their set having won over their audience.

Ruby Fields on the Harvest Stage includes a cover of The Church's 'Unguarded Moment', while another highlight is the late set performance of 'Dinosaurs' which she commences solo before the band plays out the song with a wall of sound.

Alex Cameron performs a sexually charged opening song to his set over on the Vines Stage but unfortunately there is the competing pull of Cat Power about to begin on the Harvest Stage.

Chan Marshall wanders the stage with double microphones smiling and occasionally laughing, in contrast to the significant stage fright that marred her early career performances. The set contains mainly covers with some originals included but that description requires further clarification.

Unlike most regular faithful cover versions, Chan remakes these songs in her own inimitable style. Some of the covers are barely recognisable musically and lyrically.

Cat Power
Cat Power - image ©

Her cover of 'Shivers' sounds like that song but is a mash up with INXS' 'Never Tear Us Apart'. What she does to other songs is somewhat improvisational and could be compared to what DJs do with vinyl LPs.

Although there is a degree of endearing awkwardness throughout her time on stage, she ends the set with confidence performing one of her original songs 'The Greatest', which in this context actually contains lyrics transposed from 'When The Saints Go Marching In'.

She is genuine in exclaiming: "I love you. Look after yourselves," before pointing out members of the audience for security to hand out setlists to.

Genesis Owusu arrived onstage like a robed centaur in black, his three backup performers soon revealing themselves from under him, dressed in corresponding red and black and draped in rope like an S&M TISM.

Performing to pre-recorded backing tracks Genesis is a commanding presence, rousing the audience as he calls out: "Adelaide are you alive? I wanna see you groove," later coming offstage to join the crowd.

Genesis Owusu
Genesis Owusu - image ©

The first half is more abrasive as he performs 'Gold Chains', and leads an enthusiastic chant of 'GTFO' while 'Don't Need You' sees his backup performers remove their masks during a moment of call and response with the audience.

The second half is contrastingly more soulful and includes performances of 'A Song About Fishing' and the introspective 'No Looking Back'.

The timing of the late afternoon set by Angus & Julia Stone is marred for the audience by the arrival of rain and cold, but they are still at their best performing opener 'Love Song' before a beautiful cover of The Go-Betweens 'Streets Of Your Town', while 'Snow' continues the weather theme in songs.

'Private Lawns' contains a fantastic banjo solo while the other highlights are the moving 'For You' and the final song 'Chateau'.

Although Kurt Vile had teased that he would be joining the Avalanches at the end of his set the day before, unfortunately this didn't eventuate and it was just Robbie Chater and Tony Di Blasi twiddling knobs with the occasional keyboard stab and theremin squeal as they performed one of their regular DJ sets, unlike earlier in the year when they had played 'Since I Left You' accompanied by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

The Avalanches - image ©

It was a very welcome run-through of new and old songs not limited to their aforementioned debut and included songs mainly from 'We Will Always Love You' ('Music Makes Me High' was a fitting sentiment given the uplifting feel among the audience at this time) and a few from 'Wildflower'.

Tony and Robbie were clearly enjoying themselves, jumping around, mouthing the words and occasionally hugging each other.

After having spent the majority of the afternoon at the Harvest Stage, a rush to the Vines Stage to see Hot Chip was slowed by the number of people with the same idea traversing the ever-increasing areas of pure mud throughout the festival site.

Viewed from a raised platform, the audience appear as though arranged into some kind of abstract map, like land masses surrounded by muddy pools of water while only those who had given up and no longer cared about the mud made attempts to cross the brown liquid in order to find more strategic vantage points to view Hot Chip.

The variability of firm, stable ground was a deterrent to staying too long and although Hot Chip were entertaining, the pull of Khruangbin soon to be playing on the Harvest Stage was too great to ignore.

Khruangbin - image ©

Prefacing the rest of their set with the surf-instrumental flavoured grooves of 'Maria Tambien' that incorporated recognisable riffs from 'Misirlou' and The Shadows' 'Apache' was a good introduction to the Texan trio of Khruangbin consisting of Mark Speer on guitar, Laura Lee on bass and DJ on drums.

Performing a technically proficient set that although described that way makes it sound somewhat mechanical, is quite accurate as these three were probably the tightest unit to play together over the entire weekend.

Mark is modestly self-effacing when suggesting that the audience are asking, 'Who is this band?' while waiting for Crowded House but there is some later reciprocation when a couple of times during their set Nick Seymour practices some of Laura's idiosyncratic stage moves.

Of their own material, the mellow groove of 'So We Won't Forget' is beautiful and the magnetic funk of 'Evan Finds The Third Room' capture the audience's attention but it is an extended cover medley that stands out.

You were in a perpetual game of pick that song as the band serve up riffs from the familiar and the not so familiar including (but not limited to) Grandmaster Flash's 'The Message', the Tom Tom Club's 'Genius Of Love', INXS's 'Need You Tonight', Ol' Dirty Bastard's 'Got Your Money', Haddaway's 'What Is Love' and inviting the audience to sing along with Spandau Ballet's 'True' leading into Chris Isaak's 'Wicked Game'.

Perhaps it would have been impolite to add a Crowded House song in there, but I am convinced they could have if they had wanted to.

Crowd Stage
Image ©

The band to close this debut Harvest Rock weekend is Crowded House who play more than their share of weather-themed material with Nick Seymour late in the set commenting they are "the weather band", Neil Finn chiming in that "there was always going to be a degree of risk with having us on".

The set consisted mainly of material from prior to the original band breaking up in 1996 and a couple from the latest album by this incarnation of the band, 'Dreamers Are Waiting'.

The songs are generally more bombastic than expected in comparison with the recorded versions with Liam Finn tending to rock out, executing a significant guitar solo during 'Pineapple Head' and leading a pounding, squealing 'Private Universe'.

It becomes more intimate when Elroy Finn leaves the drum riser to join the rest of the band (sans Mitchell Froom who remains at his post on keys) for 'Four Seasons In One Day' and it is appropriate but unfortunate this coincides with another rainfall that the audience had hoped had finished for the weekend.

Crowded House
Crowded House - image ©

The energetic performance of 'Sister Madly' contains an impromptu mini-medley from 'The Sound Of Music'. During Neil's soloing on 'It's Only Natural', Liam contributes subtly and afterwards Neil comments: "I'm not sure it's only natural for you to be playing with my whammy bar Liam but it sounded good."

'Don't Dream It's Over' is perhaps the mostly faithfully rendered song of the night and is followed by a song made up on the spot by Neil praising security guard Matt who had lead a section of the audience in a dance.

'Something So Strong' segues into 'I Get Frightened' before a piano is brought front of stage for Neil to play an energetic 'Chocolate Cake', which includes an audience call and response. Neil clarifies that he knows it is a Sunday but says that it feels like a Saturday night and promises to write a note so we can all have tomorrow off before the set ends appropriately with 'Better Be Home Soon'.

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