GTM has many of the hallmarks of a bush doof.
Hordes of colourfully clad music lovers? Check.
Filthy electronic beats? Check.
Environmental awareness? Check.
Yet “mainstream” festivals such as this are oft looked upon with an air of derision from the doofing community. They’re seen as too commercial, too hipster, too normal.
Which is a shame, because this year’s event proved that you don’t need to delve deep underground to get your groove on.
You just need to love music.
Musical Offering: ☆☆☆☆
Groovin the Moo is a festival known for striking the right balance between showcasing Aussie artists and scoring international talent for their lineup.
When local favourites G-Flip and Jack River took to the outdoor stages, catchy beats echoed around the grounds while their carefully constructed lyrics were ostensibly sung by every member of the crowd.
Angie McMahon, Thelma Plum and triple-j unearthed feature artist yergurl made up more of the Aussie talent and contributed to the impressive female artist count at Groovin. Norway’s Aurora, Denmark’s MØ and Australia’s own Wafia each dominated the Moolin Rouge stage, adding even more female talent to the day’s lineup.
As the setting sun ushered in the evening’s main acts, Hilltop Hoods emerged as a standout, performing popular tracks like Cosby Sweater and 1955 while getting their audience to wave a piece of clothing above their heads. The Adelaide band instructed the crowd to “protect Egg Boy!”, who was apparently backstage, before a shower of confetti rained over the tightly packed mosh during their final song.
Nick Murphy, otherwise known as Chet Faker, slowed things down on the Triple J stage with his tender piano melodies. This proved a perfect opportunity for a trip to one of the many portaloos before what was arguably* the most anticipated act of the night: Billie Eilish.
The mosh surged forward as the opening strums of Bad Guy eerily echoed across the showgrounds. Audience members erupted into squeals and cheers as the seventeen-year-old US artist bounced onto stage. The crowd remained spellbound even during slower tracks like Wish You Were Gay and When The Party’s Over.
But the pull of Fisher’s techno tracks, which could be heard in between Billie’s songs, proved too strong for some. Those making up the rear of Billie’s mosh found themselves weaving their way towards the Moolin Rouge stage in a desperate attempt to make the second half of Fisher’s set.
Lights flashed brightly as Fisher’s dramatically drawn out intro to his most famous song Losin’ It filled the marquee. When the beat dropped, every person in front of that stage jumped up and down, shouting “Losin It” as loud as they could.
The electric atmosphere he’d created simply couldn’t be topped.
Despite Hermitude and Flosstradamus technically being the final acts of the night, many considered Billie and Fisher the finales, opting to make their way to a waiting shuttle bus instead of waiting out the final tunes of GTM2019.
*Groovin the Moo made the controversial decision to change the Bendigo lineup a week before the festival, having US singer-songwriter Billie Eilish and Aussie DJ Fisher on at the same time. This last-minute decision caused thousands of confused and angry comments on social media, which sadly didn’t make enough of a dent to change the lineup, instead leaving punters with a tricky decision: Billie or Fisher?
There seemed to be portaloos as far as the eye could see at Groovin The Moo, but it still wasn’t enough. Ridiculously long lines dominated the horizon, with half-hour waits in the 18+ sections.
And, while it’s important to shield festival-goers from the smell, the distance between the portaloos and the main stages meant performances were barely audible, hindering people’s groovin’ abilities while they waited.
For weather-wise folk burdened by a no longer necessary jacket, there was a cloakroom handy for $5 a cloak, as well as a $3 fee for accessing possessions throughout the day. This was a good concept that the doof world would be wise to adopt, minus the steep fee. Most people seemed reluctant to part with their change and instead opted to tie jackets around their waists when the weather warmed up or they were too hot from dancing.
Crowd Vibe: ☆☆☆☆
Groovin The Moo attendees were a jovial bunch; strangers chatted to one another in the mosh, shared water and helped others get up on a friend’s (or stranger’s) shoulders.
There were a few rude dudes who neglected to apologise for knocking others over as they determinedly pushed through mosh, but overall most people were friendly and full of smiles.
The crowd was clearly all about the music, singing along in unison to their favourite artists throughout the day.
Extra-curricular Activities: ☆☆☆
A glitter station, a decorate your own tote bag stall, a photo booth and second-hand clothing store were nestled up on the hill of the GTM showgrounds. There could have been more activities, but as with most one-day events the focus was squarely on the music and what was available proved popular later in the day when people needed a dance break.
The festival also pushed a recycling initiative; for every can you picked up off the ground and brought back to the bar, you’d get a dollar off your drink. So five empty cans meant $5 off your drink. The concept was an impressive way to reduce litter (and drink prices) at the festival.
And, of the many food choices available, cheese toasties were a winner among festival goers.
People lazed on the grass with cans of beer, spritz and Smirnoff in hand, nibbling on overpriced pizza, chips and toasties while enjoying the music from afar. While many flocked to the mosh during the day’s performances, many festival goers opted for makeshift picnics, enjoying the chill vibes and afternoon sunshine before a full-on night of live music.
The verdict: ☆☆☆☆
All in all, GTM is not a bush doof. It’s a festival that gets you out of the house for some sunshine, Triple J music, and bonding over expensive eats. And sometimes that’s a heckin’ lovely way to spend your day.