Harvest Festival 2012 Review
Last Sunday The Vulture was lucky enough to attend the Sunday leg of Harvest Music Festival at the picturesque Werribee Mansion. Amazing weather, location, and a shitload of wandering ducks lifted the spirits of many patrons still reeling from last year’s logistical nightmare, but could Harvest step-up and provide the festival they’d promised? The answer is a resounding, emphatic yes. From transportation, to cuisine, to the sun smart initiatives being employed by volunteers, Harvest put on the most enjoyable one-day festival of the year.
Young Triple J Unearthed rock and/or rollers Lurch and Chief kicked off proceedings at the Big Red Tractor Stage and pulled quite a sizeable crowd. A combination of The White Stripes and Brian Jonestown Massacre, their raw energy and technical ability impressed The Vulture to no end. It was also nice to finally see Triple J choose a band with some balls.
The War On Drugs’ noncommittal, shoegaze folk-rock was the perfect midday solution for those easing into the day. A wash of denim and feedback solos, their small but dedicated group of fans were out in force, and the band themselves seemingly grateful to be playing for new ones. However The Dandy Warhols provided a set that fell just short of the mark, with lead-singer Courtney’s pretentious pout out in full force. Having said that, for a band that look as though they haven’t slept for two years straight, they managed to work the crowd nicely. The first sonic mindfuck of the day came in the form of Mike Patton’s Mondo Cane, with Patton bringing along a forty-piece orchestra and fifteen member backing band, to perform his unique album of cover versions of 50’s and 60’s Italian pop songs. It was just as outrageous as it sounds.
Despite some obvious technical difficulty and a slightly ostentatious sitar-solo, The Black Angels were the standout day-act at Harvest. Full of vigour and stage-presence, their set was awash with the fuzzed-out riffery that has seen them become extremely popular in Australia. Young Men Dead and Black Grease were particularly popular amongst the now slightly inebriated patronage.
Over on the Windmill stage, the mid afternoon sun shone brightly on a couple of late ninetes/early two-thousand’s bands enjoying something of a revival. Cake’s brand of alternative rock, wry humour and dry socio-political commentary went down as nicely as a cold cider, while the recently reformed Ben Folds Five indulged us with several tracks from new album The Sound of The Life Of The Mind, and a smattering of hits from their heyday.Beck, Grizzly Bear, and Silver Sun Pickups were also amongst the most impressive at Harvest. However it is fair to say that, due to closeness in set-time, all three were all upstaged by the flawless and stunning Sigur Ros. With Jonsi’s angelic falsetto as strong as ever, and his unique guitar-bowing acting as conductor for the rest of the ensemble, it was truly something to behold. It is nearly impossible to describe. In fact, it fucking is. Just rest assured that it was the most overwhelming experience that this Vulture has ever been a part of, and was worth the ticket price alone. A shift in starting times meant that crowds were then able to race across the field to the secondary stage to catch nearly all of Santigold’s fun-filled set. Shaking one’s booty to Santi White’s electro pop (complete with backup dancers) was an excellent way to shake off the universal pondering and soul searching brought on by Sigur Ros‘ epic set.Although much is said about controversial figure AJ Maddah, the man knows how to run a festival. Harvest was the idyllic festival experience for any true lover of music, and did not cater for those who believe them to be a platform for binge drinking and foul play. Cheers Harvest; The Vulture will definitely be seeing you next year.