Groovin’ The Moo is in its 14th year and continues to bring diverse and quality artists from around the world to regional areas of Australia… including the most remote and barren of them all, Canberra! Despite being labelled 2017’s best city to live in by the OECD, we still don’t get recognised on national tour legs. That’s why GTM is one of my personal favourites for the work it does to recognise us. I’ve been to the past three GTM’s and it never fails to make my skin feel all tingly and excited when I walk through those gates.

This year brought in the most amount of artists I didn’t know with Ball Park Music and Flight Facilities being the only favourites upon initial review. The great thing about festivals, though, is that you get to discover artists and in some cases re-discover songs due to the live setting. After all, that’s how I learned about Flight Facilities – my friends dragged me to their closing set of 2015. 

I wake up bright and early to get into the festival as soon as it opens. The festival grounds are right across where I live, so seeing the festival setting up each day, piece by piece, made me super excited. AViVA takes the first spot and despite the quiet start, she sets an electric mood for the rest of the day. If you weren’t woken up by that, then Moaning Lisa would’ve when they rocked the socks off UC oval with the biggest crowd yet. The Canberra locals played their newest hit I Want A Girl to my delight as it’s like a Canberra version of I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Sleater-Kinney.

From underdog to underdog, immediately after them was popular Indigenous rapper and Triple j favourite, Baker Boy. Judging by the crowd around him, you’d think he had just released a full album, but he’s managed to pull a massive audience with just three hit singles. With a dance group on stage to accompany his energetic music, the crowd was loving it. He killed it!

GTM 2018

Credit: Lewis Haskew.

From the top of the hills, I watched Ocean Alley and Vera Blue groove. While Vera’s music is a bit too slow for me, there was plenty of buildup for her set and people seemed to love it. Unfortunately, I left early to catch the beginning of Alex Lahey’s set just as Vera started Regular Touch. Lahey played a feel-good set, bringing out the great Paul Kelly for a Canberra-exclusive duet. He seemed a bit lost on stage, but I think it’s just that he doesn’t rock around the same way Lahey does. Regardless, they both looked happy performing.

All danced out and tired, I headed to the drinks tent to recuperate and to take a peek at Public Service Broadcasting. The UK alt-art-rock group’s technical skills stood out in a lineup full of Australian rock music which I found very refreshing. Unfortunately, great tracks such as Go!, and Gagarin we’re performed to an unfairly small audience. It did allow more room for dancing though, which is essential for a PSB set.

Portugal The Man gave our group some flashbacks to high school. My mate would play Modern Jesus all the time in music class so it was nice that GTM could help us revisit those moments. To make it even more moody, the sky loomed over us and warned of rain. 

The next on our hit list was DJ Yella, which was convenient as he played underneath the tent as it started raining. His music music was great – he played a lot of classic hits from N.W.A and its affiliates such as 2Pac, Snoop Dogg, and even some of Ice Cube’s solo work. But his background visuals was entertaining in itself. He showed random pictures of him and celebrities, photos from the set of Straight Out of Compton, him at award shows, and sometimes just pictures of himself sitting on stairs. Then there was his hype-man, Playboi T, who didn’t have a mic. He danced around a lot, took a lot of “pics for the gram”, and drank a lot of coffee. I loved watching him do his thing, though.

I kicked over to Genesis Owusu for a little while until heading into the main stage for Paul Kelly. Any doubts I had on whether he would be received well were squashed when the audience sang From Little Things, Big Things Grow in unison. It was harmonious to have a down-to-earth legend unite the whole festival with some old-fashioned rock. Everyone from adults, teens, to children could sing along and feel comfortable being around each other. A true highlight of the show.

GTM 2018

Credit: Nathan Schmidt.

Then were was Ball Park Musicwho played a tight and concentrated setlist full of hits from each album. Sam Cromack started alone with a rendition on It’s Nice to Be Alive and the whole band then joined him for She Only Loves Me When I’m There. My favourite part of the set was when they played Hands Off My Body and tore the whole tent down with their energy. 

Setting an objective to see as many artists as I could made the festival more enjoyable. Catching glimpses of Cosmo’s Midnight, Coda Conduct, Grinspoon, Lady Leshurr, Amine, and Royal Blood made me appreciative of the different types of music. I wouldn’t normally listen to Duke Dumont, but he even got me grooving while I was waiting for Ball Park Music. Overall, the crowd was pretty good and there was plenty of good times. 

I’m looking forward to what GTM pulls together next year. 

Feature image by Erin Cross.