Good Vibrations @ Centennial Park, Sydney (13/02/10)

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Despite The Killers canceling at the very last minute, closely followed by another last-second pull out from UK indie rockers Friendly Fires, and even despite the steady, constant rain that soaked everyone through, Good Vibrations 2010 can boast the best crowd and best atmosphere of Sydney’s season to date. Donning those ugly yellow ponchos and a fair share of gumboots, everyone cheerfully adopted a “who gives a f*&#$?” attitude and danced in the rain, laughing in the face of the incredibly shit weather the festival received for the second year running.

Arriving during one of the few dry spells, we joined the revelers singing “parlez vous Francais?” along to Art vs. Science, who had everyone up and dancing and more than ready for Ms. Ditto and The Gossip up next. The American dance outfit, starring the charismatic Beth Ditto, was one of the most popular sets of the day, and the restless crowd grew and grew as showtime drew near. Ditto came out greeted by crazed cheering, and assured everyone they were in the right place with her characteristically big stage presence and even bigger voice. Standing in The Way of Control, my favorite Gossip tune, was most definitely the highlight of the set, which was pretty fantastic overall anyway.

Armand Van Helden’s set, where I headed next, is responsible for the post-Good Vibes virus I seem to have picked up, but every cough, every sniffle, every sneeze is a small price to pay to the festival gods for such an awesome chunk of music. Old favorites came out as well as the new ones (a la his recent Duck Sauce project’s retro Anyway smash hit) and the crowd was eating it up. Then the rain came…and kept coming. We were steadily watered for the remaining three quarters of Helden’s performance, and my drowned rat-like appearance by the end of was a pretty far cry from the happy blonde chick in sunnies illustrated on all the Good Vibes flyers this year.
After Helden finished, this drowned rat joined all the sensible festival-goers underneath a copse of trees to dry off, even finding a nice warm teepee to take shelter in for awhile. Perfect time to compare notes with some new festival friends, a favourite pastime of mine.

Everyone said Busta and Salt ‘n Pepa were awesome, reaffirming my opinion that there really was no wrong stage to be at that day. The general consenus was that all of the talent on the bill was pretty quality and not one act who had bothered to show up failed to impress.
Finally, after a beer break and a quick duck into a random tent for a short dance to some electro tunes spun by a pretty wicked female DJ (always respect the female DJs) we assembled outside, waiting for Basement Jaxx, long-established UK dance legends who now had taken on the task of closing the whole Good Vibes show down. I have been a fan of Basement Jaxx for more than a few years now, but I really had no idea what to expect from them. The disappointment from The Killers’ absence was fresh, and I think everyone needed something really good to reassure them they could still leave the festival that day feeling fulfilled.

Basement Jaxx took the empty space left by the Killers and made it their time to shine. This act, the closing act, was the highlight of the entire festival for me, and it naturally feels pretty good when you can end things on such a high note.

Never just one performer on the stage for the entire time, there were always multiple vocalists, and others joined in for dancing and general merrymaking. The set almost took on a circus/Moulin Rouge-like quality, with the colourful costumes and personalities constantly jumping on and off the stage, laughing and singing and dancing, making the show much more of an experience for all of the senses. Kicking off the set with a bang, Jaxx played their popular Good Luck hit which saw everyone dancing. I stopped to notice the fact that I hadn’t noticed the lack of rain falling from the sky, but only in time for the rain to start falling once again. At this point I had given up on ever being dry again, though, and thankful for the cloak of darkness, I danced away and fully flaunted my newly-acquired drowned rat sex appeal. Everyone was dancing and enjoying themselves throughout, singing to eachother and to the open air, but the crowd’s energy was ramped up even more with the club anthem Red Alert, and I found that a new burst of energy had found its way to my feet as well.

So, thanks to a brilliant ending supplied by Basement Jaxx and the positive attitudes of hundreds of drowned festival rats, Good Vibes 2010 was a smashing success. A big thanks also to the organisers, who really came through to pull off a great event on Sydney’s current festival calendar.

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