Southbound Festival @ Sir Stewart Bovell Park, Busselton WA (06/01/07)
Wed 10th Jan, 2007 Event Reviewsin
Out in the middle of nowhere, in some dry old football field with several layers of dust, the always sold-out event, the Southbound music festival, draws revelers from anywhere and everywhere in Australia, not just the West Coast. People arrive from every direction for this two day event to celebrate the heartbeat of youth, music.
The modern day Woodstock of Australia, being a rival to the infamous American rock event, the Southbound concert keeps true to the nature of original music festivals with a back to basics campout, world famous artists, drugs of the homegrown and manufactured nature, alcohol, and a massive amount of crazy youths ready to sacrifice all for their favorite tunes. Probably the only difference between the two events, being in a modern era we are blessed with the added genre of dance music, which out of its element in a rural town, competes very well in the crowd pulling factor against the more mainstream rock acts.
The naming of the stages are confusing at first, even more so once the alcohol kicks in and even harder when trying to follow a conversation of techno fans in rapid speech, This stage, That stage or the Other stage. Logically the Other stages’ music is dance music, ‘doof’ as termed by most of the locals, while it also had acts from Dallas Frasca, Blue King Brown. Inside the usual massive tent there were also Hip-Hop acts Saul Williams, Scribe and closing act of the Others’ night, Hilltop Hoods. In between were sets from up and coming Dj’s. The major Other acts being the dance community’s well respected artist, Jamie Liddell with his vocal R&B experimental genre, The Presets with their electro/indie/pop music and later on the three piece house/electronica set from Infusion.
That stage, the title not sounding as left out as the Other stage, utilized Australia’s great indie-rock talent with constantly touring bands The Flairz, the Jack Johnson sound alike: Matt Costa, reputable Little Birdy, Sleepy Jackson and finishing off with You Am I, who had some pretty stiff competition with the other closing acts.
This Stage, referring to its cast of indefinite mainstream bands, gathered the most spectators for the entire day as it appealed to any FM radio listener. Josh Pyke and Youth Group were amongst the first acts, country music act The Audreys replacing Modest Mouse made waiting at the front for Eskimo Joe, not such a pleasing wait for most of the crowd, although their were some brothers from weathered up Esperance who absolutely loved them.
I had to sacrifice most of Jamie Liddell’s set for a place amongst the enormous crowd of Eskimo Joe punters, which was well worth it, being a fan of the Joe for quite some time now I couldn’t miss the opportunity to see them live. A gutsy move from the Joe was their cover of the U2 hit New Years Day . Stepping up to the gods of rock is a dangerous move, but the boys performed successfully. The audience size indicated by a backstage lady with red hair shaking her head, either that or it was a disapproving look at the front rowers fighting for positions.
Oddly enough, mainstream music now includes reggae. Once regarded as a completely different genre, the top Australian reggae acts: The John Butler Trio and less mainstream Michael Franti with Spearhead have their diehard fans and pull a largely curious audience, proving reggae is more famous than most think. The entire crowd did the hip-swaying reggae dance considered usual for the genre, with the constant lingering smell of noxious weeds, either from the audience or the stage. Oddly enough Butlers’ set was interrupted by two men fighting in the front row, John Butlers’ plea for piece calming their souls. The audience supported Butlers’ encouragement for people to enroll to vote, creating a slight murmur from the audience members who had no idea about enrolling to vote. Michael Franti’s peaceful message physically connected people, getting everyone to lock arms for an entire song enthused the previously introverted crowd.
Possibly the show stealer, Wolmother came out to an iconic chant of “Wolfmother, Wolfmother”, showing how much young people love to rock. The super group, Australia and worldwide, kicked off their show to the well-known Dimension . I personally have grown bored with Wolfmother’s constant playing through the radio, stores and T.V and decided the kicking, punching, pushing and pinching of the moshpit just wasn’t worth it.
As a die hard fan of house music, what pushed my conscience vote to leave Wolfmother was the reminder that Infusion were doing their set in the nearby stage. I was actually quite stunned to see the tent almost full of a jiving crowd to Infusion’s set, thinking everyone would be watching Wolfmother was stupid as I realized these were the die hard fans of this Other music, most of whom spent the entire day in the tent, leaving for food and drink only through the Hip-Hop sets. The three members of Infusion made the show entertaining both audibly and visually with the traditional blinding lights often used in big dance shows and the cool random images on the massive screens either side of the stage, whilst the three talented musicians producing that much loved sound, were experiencing the sound themselves through dancing, giving those of us who had no idea how to move and groove a decent guideline. Finishing with a good long set of their most famous hit Natural , gave the audience an extra workout of dancing as well as mouthing the obvious words to the song. Meanwhile, some at the back of the crowd were fingering through the bottoms of their tiny glad bags.
While the final set was being performed, the easily separated fans of the other ‘Other’ genre, Hip-Hop, represented by the Hilltop Hoods, were making their way into the audience, some wearing jumpers with hoods over their heads, most wearing baggy pants.
Alerted to a quick rush outside I had to get into the prime viewing spot for the best act of the festival, Basement Jaxx. Originally, I didn’t know whether a house act would be any good as a big stage event, I was wrong again today. Basement Jaxx on the stage was one of the best events I’ve ever seen, the awesome outfits worn by the three soul sister vocalists changed every new song, the last outfit the best, being a massive blue futuristic dress. The three piece wind instrument set originally with zombie face paint on, then one performing in a wicked gorilla suit, fitting the track Where’s Your Head At and the male rap vocalist appearing in a cool silver shazaam outfit looking like a futuristic MC Hammer. The stage was in complete chaos with the two crazy British DJ’s Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe dancing around as well, it was completely entertaining thus the reason they weren’t on the ‘Other’ stage which was much smaller. The entire audience not moshing but bootyshaking to Jaxx’s fantastic play list of their own hits, some of the best being Get Me Off , Do Your Thing and the recent Take Me Back To Your House . While some renditions of modern tracks like the always remixed JT hit SexyBack . The audience, a mix of cosmopolitan city goers and locals, kept shifting in their individual styles to the spectacular music and scenery, even when the main speakers were shut off at midnight, some commenting later on thinking their ears finally gave out after the days pounding.
People coming from all over Australia travelling to Sir Stewart Bovell Park in Busselton is a feat of it’s own, but all in all Southbound, still in it’s infancy after three years of existence, is just another excellent addition to the series of music events on the West Coast, continuing on with Summadayze, Good Vibrations, The Blues ‘n’ Roots Festival and the Big Day Out.