A good weekend of Aussie music
After attending Canberra's biggest live music festival over the weekend, Stonefest, and then watching the ARIA awards last night, I am comforted to see that Aussie music is as diverse and interesting as ever. In truth, Stonefest wasn't much to write home about, but did have it's interesting moments. The festival is a Friday night, Saturday day event at The University of Canberra. The line up this year included Regurgitator, The Herd, The Avalanches (just a DJ set), Cog, Urge Overkill, Mark of Cain, Sarah Blasko and the Hoodoo Gurus. Unfortunately due to other commitments, I was unable to check out Sarah Blasko, or the Hoodoo Gurus. While not particularly phased about missing reunited 80's bands like the Gurus, I was keen to see Sarah Blasko, but unfortunately this was not to be.
Regurgitator took out best set for mine, although they did keep to a very tried and tested playlist, opting not to play much of their new stuff. They clearly knew their crowd though, and I think they made the right choice (although they didn't play my favourite song, "Bubber Boy", which is guaranteed to get the mosh pit going. Hip-hop act, "The Herd", probably would have been my favourite but for some pretty ordinary sound checking of their voice mics prior to their set. I was pretty close to the front for these guys, but could hardly make out a word they were saying, which is a pretty fundamental problem for a music genre relying on spoken word. It was pretty disappointing because I do like my Aussie hip-hop, and The Herd are one of the best.
The other acts on the Friday night were all DJ sets, which did not appeal to me so much. On the Saturday, after a couple of local acts, Cog took the stage in fine style. These guys are pretty loud and heavy, and not really my thing, but I have no doubt they did keep their fans happy with a very tight set. Sometimes the visual alone is enough for me to enjoy sets like this, the crowd was definitely into them.
Another stand out performance, despite not really being my thing, was Mark of Cain. These guys have been around for years, although not much has been heard from them for a while. They are, like Cog, loud and heavy, but you sense an air of experience about these guys, which adds further to their on stage presence. They took command of the crowd almost instantly with their trademark song "I could have been a contender", and then continued to rip through a great set. Due to a party on Saturday night, I had to leave after these guys.
Despite not being overwhelmed by excitement with any of the acts, I did enjoy the diversity of music on show. In the same vein, the ARIA awards last night seemed to also satisfy this criteria. I didn't catch the whole show, but what I did watch was pretty interesting. The choice of bands and artists for some of the big categories was really very encouraging. Seeing bands like Augie March, Eskimo Joe, Wolfmother, The Audreys, The Hilltop Hoods and TV rock taking out awards, and putting on good performances really brought home the diversity of this years awards. At least some of the superficiality and blandness of previous years was avoided last night. And good on Midnight Oil for taking their moment in the spotlight to make some very interesting points, particularly their none to subtle dig at shows like Australian Idol, which was met with considerable crowd support. They are, were and always will be a class act.
It was a good night for Aussie music.