Nov 14, 2011

Harvest Festival (Sydney)

Year One of Harvest. A raging success. A great day. An amazing experience. This 'civilised' gathering' was supposed to be a different creature. Relaxed, eclectic, superb music. It truly delivered. On a hot, but not unbearable day, we ventured to Western Sydney to the environs of Parramatta Park. Capped at just under 10,000, the crowd gathered surely had to leave with smiles and hearts aflame. I certainly did. A day of great music in a great setting. Of course with a lineup like the one assembled I had to miss out on some acts I would have liked to see. Such as Mercury Rev, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Mogwai. Plus I only witnessed half of Bright Eye. I did however catch the remarkable "Landlocked Blues", so all was not lost. I do know though that by the end of the night, as Portishead played in the distance, I had enjoyed a superb and rewarding day. Full reviews follow below.

First up were the remarkable The Walkmen. Stuck unfairly in a mid afternoon slot, they still managed to deliver a blistering, robust set. Their aching melodies and overpowering rhythms make for a potent mix. Drumming and guitar work is exemplary and quite unique. Hamilton Leithauser is an imposing front man, his vocals reaching far and wide. Highlights were the wonderful "In The New Year" and the unforgettable "All Hands and the Cook". They even played two new songs!

Set List
While I Shovel The Snow
Woe Is Me
On The Water
In the New Year
I'm Not Your Heartbreaker
New Song?
Blue As Your Blood
The Rat
All Hands and the Cook

Despite a poor mix, TV On The Radio still managed to put in a blistering and ferocious set. They have become a force to be reckoned with on stage. Tunde and Kyp offer the full range of vocals, inciting us all to dance and feel with equal effect. In particular "Blues Down Here" was a hulking beast and "Wolf Like Me" nearly tore our heads off. Incendiary.

Set List
Halfway Home
Wrong Way
Caffeinated Consciousness
Second Song
Golden Age
Will Do
Blues Down Here
Young Liars
Red Dress
Staring At The Sun
Wolf Like Me

If was any doubt beforehand, there was certainly none afterwards. The National were the stars of the day. After a slightly flat start, they burst into life on the superb "Bloodbuzz Ohio" and then consistently had the enthusiastic crowd eating out of their hands. Oh yes, there was much hand clapping and singing. Highlights were "Fake Empire", "Conversation 16", "Apartment Story" and the storming closer "Terrible Love", where smouldering lead singer Matt Berninger climbed into a frenzied crowd. This is truly a great band, a band you must see at least once in your life.

Set List
Anyone's Ghost
Mistaken For Strangers
Bloodbuzz Ohio
Slow Show
Squalor Victoria
Afraid Of Everyone
Conversation 16
Apartment Story
Fake Empire
Mr November
Terrible Love

I was really keen to see Phosphorescent today and I was glad I did. The project of Matthew Houck has grown into a fully formed, swinging country band. But with a twist. Unfortunately only a small audience was on hand to witness the band play, but they sure received a great show. Their blend of off kilter, sombre country is deeply powerful and moving. The show really hit the heights with the back to back punch of "Wolves" and Los Angeles". Wonderful stuff!

Set List
Wish I Was In England?
It's Hard To Be Humble (When You're From Alabama)
Nothing Was Stolen (Love Me Foolishly)
We'll Be Here Soon
The Mermaid Parade
It's Not Supposed To Be That Way
Los Angeles
At Death, A Proclamation

Last, but not least were the one and only The Flaming Lips. We actually we would miss the first part of their set after a clash with The National. But some sort of technical/equipment delay meant that we caught the whole set. Impossible to describe, I will somehow try. Band entrance through a projected vagina, singer in a bubble, confetti, balloons, confetti, balloons, dancers, giant hands, lasers. Well, you get the picture. A show like this is actually impossible to jam into a festival set. There is too much, too little time. Perhaps they should cut a little of the pyrotechnics and add a few more songs. But we got "Yoshimi", we sang, we cried. Everyone should have a little Lips in their life.

Set List
Sweet Leaf
She Don't Use Jelly
The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
Is David Bowie Dying? 
Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt. 1
See The Leaves
Do You Realize??


  • At November 20, 2011 , Anonymous Tom said...

    I couldn't believe the lineup when I first saw it. Let's hope next year's festival includes humble old Perth!


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