Along with half of Adelaide’s high-school population, I ran around the Wayville Showgrounds last month, moo-ving more than I groo-ved. I lost my friends within the first hour, and spent the next eleven looking for anyone I vaguely knew. Most of the day was spent lining up for drinks, for a toilet, and for a burrito. But I’ve since forgotten the perils of boot-worn blisters and shitty phone reception, and this year’s Groovin the Moo festival remains a messy, rose-tinted memory.
Before Wayville’s Unearthed act Pinkish Blu even began their biggest performance yet, there was an established feeling to their stage presence. Beneath an overcast sky, the four-piece had the perfect weather to play the sad-pop tunes they excel at. It was a tight performance with the dreamy tones of guitarist Sebastian James projected through the large PA, and the vocalist Brice Young delivering a massive chord at the end of their debut single Lovely.
Next up on the Cattleyard stage was my girl crush Angie McMahon. She has just four released songs, but it only took one listen to fall in love with her voice. She sings as if it’s for no one but herself, seated on the edge of the bathtub, guitar in hand – except thousands were watching. If you like the raw vocals of Julia Jacklin and the guitar riffs of Alex Lahey, I suggest you jump on the Angie bandwagon before everyone else.
I was introduced to Thelma Plum at the last GTM I went to, and in just four years she’s ripened to become one of my favourite Australian singer/songwriters. She has a sweet, down-to-earth soulfulness, and her music is the type your grandmother and your boyfriend would like just the same. She treated her crowd to the first live performance of her new song, Better in Blak, an ode to her Gamilaraay roots.
Wafia and Jack River are another two emerging Australian female artists, who have gained a strong following in the few years since their emergence. They both know how to work an audience; a quietly confident Wafia let her vocals do the talking, while Jack River’s powerful performance was as loud as her sequined get-up.
While a strong female lineup was a highlight of this year’s festival, other Australian acts Holy Holy, DMAs, and Crooked Colours were among my favourites. Holy Holy ushered in the two-piece’s upcoming album with a new layered sound, a fearless left turn from their popular songs That Message and True Lovers. The DMAs attracted a more relaxed crowd, many of them sprawled out on the lawn at the back of the Triple J stage, singing along to their epic Like a Version of Believe. Under the Moolin Rouge amphitheatre, everyone was immersed in a vivid performance as Crooked Colours played the best beats of their new album Langata.
What I love about Groovin the Moo is its prominence of good Australian music, but there’s always a few international artists thrown into the mix. Rejjie Snow, possibly the only Irish rapper known to Australians, sent his audience into a smooth bop. Duckwrth’s set almost tore the roof off the Moolin Rouge tent, and Aurora brought everyone back down to earth with her otherworldly melodies.
But, whether they’d admit it or not, everyone wanted to catch a glimpse of Billie. With her dark, eerie set and wispy tones, most of us didn’t get the full Billie Eilish experience. At times her voice was lost in the density of the screaming crowd, but her presence was no less commanding. It was while I was suffocated in a sea of sixteen-year-olds screaming ‘I wanna end me’ I realised I’m probably getting too old for Groovin the Moo; but, you can’t expect anything less for such a powerhouse performer.
Words by Annabel Bowles
Photography by Oliver White
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