Ok, so most of you here are also on my facebook friends list, so you've probably seen my ridiculous status updates full of excitableness. If not, let me tell you that Wednesday and Thursday nights were THE BEST festival experience(s) of my goddamn life!
Wednesday began sitting in the shade waiting for SoKo to hit the stage. About five minutes before she was due to begin i headed up front centre for her set and found myself in the middle of a group of about twenty-thirty odd massive fans. Now, she has a shy persona on stage - but i swear our little miasma of fans in the middle of the crowd lifted most the anxiety off her chest. Every time she looked in our direction she cracked a smile. Even when she broke into tears part-way through one of her songs all it took was a glance in our direction and her tears were interrupted by a smirk and a glimpse of laughter. She powered her way through the set, playing not only ukelele and guitar, but she also jumped behind the drumkit for a couple of songs. Sure she mightn't be the most accomplished musician, but she has an aura around her that is hard to describe. A few of her songs had a definite feel of Bright Eyes (circa "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning") which can't be a bad thing. The crowd loved her, and i think she loved the crowd too.
After her set i had walked a bit further back to the side waiting for Gomez to hit the stage when she appeared from the backstage area. A few people had their photo taken with her and went up to her and thanked her for coming to Australia and truthfully told her it was one of the best performances i had ever seen. Then a few more people bugged her for photographs, and i had a slightly longer chat asking if she was going to be back in Australia before the end of the year and if so, could she please come to Adelaide. She admitted that she really wanted to come to Adelaide but couldn't squeeze it in on this tour. I mentioned that i flew to Brisbane almost exclusively to see her (well, i was going to travel somewhere to see her, Brisbane had the added bonus of all the other bands at the festival) and also mentioned that i had emailed her tour manager hoping they might fit an Adelaide show in. She had a great big beaming smile on her face and gave me a huge hug. It was magic. As i jokingly said to Mischa earlier this evening - i'd turn vegan for SoKo at the drop of a hat, but wouldn't for McSweeney. Lol.
Next up were Gomez. I had planned on standing back towards the side for their set, but the first few songs made me wanna dance, so i slid surreptitiously (read: rudely pushed) my way towards front centre again. Their set was tremendous - a good bunch of old and new, including my two favourites (R&B Alibi and We Haven't Turned Around). Towards the end of their set Ben threw a pick off the stage and somehow it managed to find it's way over the heads of the front ten or so rows and pretty much land in my lap. So i'm now the proud owner of a Gomez plectrum =)
After Gomez i trekked over to the Riverstage (main stage) and unfortunately caught the last few songs of Faker's set who were typically lame. After they departed i'd managed to meander my way down the amphitheatre towards the front (and very nearly stacked it on the step between the grass and the pavers - which i didn't see). The Kooks were up next and they were, well, disappointing but still quite good. I had high expectations of them, and they were good, but not as good as i'd been hoping.
And finally, The Hives. Between the end of the Kooks set and the start of the Hives, i'd managed to weasel my way forwards and was only about five people deep in the centre of the main stage. And OMFG The Hives were INCREDIBLE!! Absolutely resplendent in their white suits (which didn't last long in the hot, humid Brisbane evening) they put on one of the most fierce displays of rock music i have seen in a long time! These crazy Swedes know how to rock and they rocked my fucking socks off. An hour of absolute bliss. They pulled out a lot of songs from the archives which made me happy, given i discovered them in 2002 and this was the first time i'd managed to see them live. Highlights for mine were Walk Idiot Walk, Hate To Say I Told You So, Main Offender and Tick Tick Boom. It was also one of the best moshpits i'd been in in ages. A few moments of pushing and crushing when i had brief feelings of "i'm too old for this shit, i'm gonna die" but for the most it was just up and down great fun. Only a few crowd-surfers, so a big kudos to the Brisvegas crowd. Their drummer threw a ridiculous amount of drumsticks off the stage during their set, must've been at least ten, of which one of them was caught simultaneously by four people, including myself. However five hands were on the drumstick, hence i figured the guy who got both his mitts on it deserved it. However, one of the other guys didn't agree to this theory, so they played paper, scissors, rock to determine the person who would keep it. Luckily the guy with both hands on it won the game and took it home.
Thursday. Now this was the day that i wasn't expecting much from. I arrived early again to beat the rush (apparently there was a 45 minute lineup at 5pm the previous day) so i was there in time to see Kat Frankie on the hibiscus stage. She was amazing. In a weird doppelganger twist, Andy, her bass player, reminded me a bit of Andrew, my friend Katrina's boyfriend. Then i realised her name is Kat as well. Bizarre. I don't assume they're a couple, but it'd be funny if they were.
After this i decided to catch a bit of CW Stoneking, given there was nothing i wanted to see until I Heart Hiroshima at 5pm. Now i had no idea what to expect, but i certainly didn't expect a crazy old-ish looking man with a southern US accent playing a steel body guitar backed with a brass section complete with cornet, trombone and tuba! It was a very interesting mix of big-band and cabaret that was quite entertaining. But the most entertainment during their set was some dude in the audience who had a bag full of grapes. He was entertaining us by attempting to throw grapes into the mouths of willing volunteers from vast distances. There were at least two spectacular successes that i witnessed - where he threw a single grape in excess of thirty metres to be caught in an open mouth. Rather incredible. Hilariously, during one of Stoneking's solo songs his band members encouraged Mr Grape to attempt to throw onto stage and land one in their mouths! Good fun times.
I left CW Stoneking about twenty minutes before they were due to finish to head over to the Riverstage for I Heart Hiroshima, arriving perfectly on time. They had a sizeable crowd, a large portion of which were dancing their butts away on the pavers. I probably enjoyed watching the people dancing more than watching the band themselves. It wasn't the best set i've seen them perform, but the crowd certainly enjoyed it, especially when they played their JJJ hit Punks.
Next up was Santogold. What an utter waste of time he was. A man who plays CDs on stage and gets applause for his choices is not a musician imo. He wasn't even sampling/mixing/doing anything original. Just playing CDs and prancing like a tool. Yuck.
(edit: as per the comments below, i got this wrong. Santogold is in fact the woman who sang over the top of the DJ who had "warmed up" the audience. I still found it pretty boring.
Next up were The Grates. Patience apparently sprained her ankle whilst bouncing around on the Southbound stage earlier in the week, so it was rather bizarre to see her perform the entire set whilst seated in a massive chair, looking rather like Alice. They were typically excellent, but it really lacked the energy without Patience bouncing around like she's on a trampoline (pun intended).
And finally Franz Ferdinand. OMG! I saw Franz at the 2006 BDO in Perth, but was jammed up against the side attempting to get into the D-barrier, so i didn't really enjoy it as much as i should've. But this time i was RIGHT up the front, for the first time in my life i found myself leaning on the front barrier about five metres to the right of centre. They played an impeccably perfect set, selecting songs from throughout their career. Personal highlights were This Fire, Dark of the Matinee and, of course, Take Me Out. Not to be outdone by The Hives the night before, at the very end of their encore, lead singer Alex Kapranos stage dived into the audience. A spectacular end to a spectacular festival.
Then, the icing on the cake, i managed to get my mitts on a Franz Ferdinand pick. So yes, not only did SoKo hug me, i caught a Gomez pick and a Hives drumstick, but i also got a Franz pick. Win, win, win(ish) and win! Best festival EVER!!!
Oh, and to add the cherry on top of it all, on the way home i met a girl at the Mater Hill bus station and sat there having a chat with her for a good 40-odd minutes whilst we waited for her bus to come by. Meanwhile about ten busses i could've caught went past, but then a 150 came by immediately after her bus came so i made it back to Garbo quickly. Got her number too =)