Southbound Festival 2013. Friday 4th January, 2013 – Review by Levi Dobbie.
>> Read our review from Southbound day 2 HERE
This year marks the 9th annual Southbound festival, a two day music and art celebration held in the southern beachside tourist town of Busselton which has gained momentum and popularity Australia wide.
Southbound 2013 attendees were rewarded with a powerful array of acts from Australia and abroad, spanning Friday the 4th and Saturday the 5th of January. The 70 or so bands spread across two stages and a DJ booth overlooking a faux-beach with sets from 45 minutes to an hour or more.
Friday started, as most Southbound’s do, with the unpacking of cars and crossing of fields. Being a camping event is a large part of the festivals appeal if the throngs of punters trudging to St Stewart Bovell Park are any indication. Tents were set up and eskies unloaded in the large field by the main oval as excitement grew for the two days ahead.
Attendees faced the one downfall of any festival experience: Choosing who to see and how much of the set was worth sacrificing to catch another band on another stage.
The day started with Brisbane’s BALL PARK MUSIC, whose energy and infectious tracks earned them the first big sing-alongs of the festival.
Working their way through tracks from 2011’s ‘Happiness and Surrounding Suburbs’ the five-piece remained excited and talkative for the 50 minute set. They capped off the show with choice cuts from new album ‘Museum’ and their biggest crowd pleaser, ‘iFly’. The crowd happily sang along to every rude word, much to the distaste of parents who decided to bring their children along for the festivities.
After the stage was cleared and re-strung, a mass formed and waited for 22 year old MATT CORBY to do his thing. Though he first reached the public eye via Australian Idol, he has since created a very strong name for himself as an independent singer/songwriter thanks in part to 2011’s ‘Into The Flame’ EP. Right on time, Corby and his backing band appeared and launched straight into the 45 minute set.
Few words were spoken by Corby between songs, preferring instead to make transitions as brief and fluid as possible. His guitar work coming second only to his voice, Corby commanded an entranced silence through all songs but ‘Brother’ which relit the sing-along fire amongst the crowd.
Those excited to finally see one of the most talked about Australian acts of 2012, or those just keen to get out of the sun and under the big top, headed over to the Share stage for SAN CISCO. The Fremantle pop rockers catchy hooks pulled in the viewers and San Cisco managed to garner a hugely positive response. The crowd were left clapping their hands back across the oval in time for HOT CHIP.
Hailing from England, Hot Chip are one of those bands that maybe you’re not sure you’ve heard before, until they play one of their big singles such as ‘Over And Over’. Within two songs, people were convinced and bounced along to a solid taste of their five studio albums so far. By closer ‘I Feel Better’, the crowd reached the furthest corners of the oval with people still streaming over the hills to see what all the fuss was about.
By 7:45pm the Share stage crowd had doubled. A quick glance at the schedule explained why: Next up was Sydney’s FLUME, the young man who gave us last year’s earworm ‘Sleepless’. With little how-to-do, he launched into a solid hour of dance tracks that got even the most sceptical of viewers moving.
Just as legs and arms started to get tired, it was time to head back to the Sunny stage to see a Swedish band quite like no other by the name of, THE HIVES.
Coming onto the stage dressed in complete black tie formal wear with tails and top hats, those not familiar with their music could be forgiven for thinking The Hives were a piano-based lounge group. The correction was made swiftly as they launched into tracks from last years ‘Lex Hives’ album. Between songs, lead singer Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist would entice and command the crowd in equal measure with his iconic banter before announcing yet another 2 minute track performed with such efficiency you couldn’t help but marvel at the synchronization between members. Chris Dangerous throwing a drumstick in the air is impressive, but catching it at the exact moment guitarist Nicholaus Arson catches his guitar or Dr. Matt Destruction starts the walking bass line is awe inspiring.
The set came to a close as the band froze mid-song for a full two minutes before launching flawlessly back into a chorus. No explanation given or needed. They are, after all, The Hives.
With the sun fully set, many a punter crowded around to witness the day’s closing act for the Sunny stage, none other than THE FLAMING LIPS.
The Flaming Lips are the sort of band who have such a comprehensive and diverse body of work that everyone loves them for a different reason. The last year has seen them break a world record for most concerts performed in a day, record a track with KE$HA and throw together what is arguably the world’s first 24 hour song, released on a USB stick contained inside a real human skull.
Yes, really. Google it.
The band’s mythology and reputation was not disproved as the first five minutes of the set saw lead singer Wayne Coyne traverse the crowd from inside a huge inflatable ball as confetti canons showered all and sundry.
One would almost forget the music with the amount of activity, colour, lights, dancers and people dressed as animals spewing forth from the stage. Almost, that is, unless their music went so perfectly with their show. The Flaming Lips are masters of the feedback-laden acid rock those in the 90’s were so fond of, though they never shoebox themselves enough to sound dated. By the time Coyne introduced and sang the first few bars of closing track ‘Do You Realize?’, all but a few in the crowd had arrived in the happy place that The Flaming Lips lived and were accepting without argument the gospel Coyne was providing.
As the stage lights dimmed and the animals and musicians beneath them walked off stage, fans dragged their sunburnt bodies to one of two places: To the Coconut Club to party until 2am or to their tent for some much needed rest before doing it all again the next day.
>> Click HERE to see full Southbound 2013 gallery