Live Review: Groovin The Moo - Bendigo, Victoria

6 May 2012 | 8:03 pm | Bryget Chrisfield

Beyond the cattle entrance, the GTM herd agree they "don't give a fuck" with 360 but do give a fuck for li-lo crowd-surfing (Mutemath), stiletto'd cops (Beni), an MCA eulogy (Public Enemy), a rainbow Paddle Pop (Kimbra) and flying frangers (punters' own).

Bendigo bus stops are well populated unusually early this Saturday as festivalgoers don't wish to miss a second of Groovin' The Moo's something-for-everyone line-up. While wandering up Holmes Road towards the main entrance, St Peter's Primary School offers sound advice via a billboard that reads, “Life To The Full.” Punters pass a goon bag around inside a parked car as if illustrating this mantra.

It's likely that Groovin' The Moo is the only festival in the world to boast a designated gate through which livestock must enter. Not in use today. We pass a stall selling animal-inspired onesies (cow suits are available in two colour schemes) for $75 a pop. Inside the Moolin Rouge tent, there's no such thing as a gradual start since Ballarat's should-be-stratospheric Gold Fields are onstage. Their band is immortalised via an impressive LED-lit backdrop and the quintet totally own Underworld's Born Slippy, with multi-layered percussion forcing idle feet into action. “Lager, lager, lager” reminds us we are yet to hit the bar, but Gold Fields hold us hostage until their closer, an extended version of the already cranking Move. Double-drum demolition glues it all together but lead singer Mark Robert Fuller's vocals sound strained on this occasion.

Over on the Udder Stage, Matt Corby enthrals. Possessing a voice as emotive as Jeff Buckley's, Corby certainly doesn't disappoint live. The variety of singing styles he effortlessly employs makes Corby's performance authentic and engaging and Brother sets an early standard for amount of on-shoulder spectators. The maturity of this song is baffling given that Corby's 21 years young and goosebumps prevail.

Heading as close to the action as our tinnies allow, we prepare for Andrew WK. After about four songs, it becomes apparent the Moo massive is baffled with only those in the front five(ish) rows lured into his party zone.

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It's back to Moolin Rouge for Mutemath and the American alt.rockers perform a headline-worthy set at 3pm. Playing many tracks from their latest, outstanding Odd Soul album – Prytania and the irresistible groove of Blood Pressure clear highlights – what's particularly evident is the band's dedication to leaving nothing behind. Frontman Paul Meany convulses as if possessed by the spirits of a thousand dead rock'n'rollers and, although Australian audiences miss out on the video-wall structure featured throughout Mutemath's US tour, there's plenty to get excited about. Reset is introduced as being from the period before Meany “was allowed to sing”. The frontman plays some mean keys, back-to-back with another keyboardist. Meany also holds his axe into the crowd for stray fingers to play before showing off some fine hip hop-style balances atop his keyboard. Then he launches into the crowd, landing on a fancy black mattress decorated with flashing lights. This band's stage crew sure earn their keep. Mutemath deliver.

360 at Groovin The Moo

360 grooves the moo, the baa and every other animal sound in Bendigo. Pic by Nick Manuell

It may be sparsely populated in front of the Udder Stage, but, for those who've prioritised Parkway Drive, a masterful display of metalcore is served up. 360 (aka Matt Colwell) is where the rest of the festival population's at. Together with partner in rhyme Bam Bam (who even has a double-gunshot sound effect to illustrate his moniker), 360 brings club-banging hip hop. There's not a single pair of arms by sides in eyeshot. Sixty's Gossling-featuring Boys Like You, which he explains was written as a 'fuck you' to an ex who cheated on him, inspires a mass sing-along: “If I hadda listened wouldn't be in this position.” The kids also majorly dig their version of Skrillex's Died This Way (as well as the opportunity to scream out “We don't give a FUCK!”).

Beni's up next and his dancers must be seen to be believed. A pair of gents dressed as officers strut around in skyscraper stilettos to Someone Just Like You while demonstrating jaw-dropping flexibility and gymnastic feats that wouldn't be out of place onstage with Madonna. One dancer jumps into the splits and squashes an empty plastic hippie of Smirnoff that has somehow made its way up there. As well as his own tracks (It's A Bubble goes off!), Beni incorporates such classics as Show Me Love (Robin S) and Horny (Mousse T). Beni bravely attempts an unco running man in between his two exceptional dancers, but the man is undeniably no slouch behind the ones and twos. My companion draws comparisons to Danny Tenaglia.

Feeling energised and ready to boogie post-Beni, City &Colour is a downer so it's now up to Public Enemy – “YEEEEAAAAH BOOOI!” The legendary hip hop collective open the same way as they did at Falls Festival a couple of years back, bookended by supersized 'security guards' in full camouflage regalia performing military-inspired moves to siren accompaniment. There's a moving target on the cyclorama and hypeman Flava Flav resembles an angry bull ant between the two sergeants. Flav leads the charge, “When I say 'hip', you say 'hop'.” Touching eulogies to the late Adam 'MCA' Yauch are scattered throughout the set. The hits are insane – Fight The Power, Don't Believe The Hype, 911 Is A Joke – and Public Enemy are still committed to educating their audience. Philosopher Flav's parting words: “There's only one race, the human race.”

Kimbra at Groovin The Moo

Kimbra proves that rainbow Paddle Pops are fashion-forward. Pic by Nick Manuell.

“She's so cool!” extols a devotee in the crowd the millisecond she claps eyes on Kimbra, who resembles a vibrant rainbow Paddle Pop tonight. Gorgeous visuals complement her flawless vocals: images of exotic fish swim in and out of three ornate gilt frames behind the band. Good Intent receives an enthusiastic sing-along and it's clear Kimbra is mighty popular. She shares this is the first time she's play a festival after dark. Everything's note perfect and all the lights are on, but there's still more depth to Kimbra teetering just below the surface. She has the potential to become an even more unstoppable force, believe it or not.

Securing prime real estate for Hilltop Hoods is a challenge, even though we relocate before Kimbra's set concludes. Adelaide's hip hop royalty can afford to start however they wish and surprise us with an atmospheric solo rap by MC Pressure. Then the masters of positive hip hop go nuts with extra-special guest Plutonic Lab behind the kit. The drumming vs rhyming speed segment leaves us reeling. Impossible clarity is retained and all who witness this are clear winners. Still Standing makes bodies bounce. There's a nod to Public Enemy in their call-and-response hype: “When I say 'hill', you say 'top'.” The Hard Road is no match for Nosebleed Section but the audience is weirdly silent in between tracks and so Adrian Lux can be heard slaying it in Moolin Rouge.

We head on in to pull some shapes. Lux acknowledges our Great Southern Land by dropping The Temper Trap's Sweet Disposition. And then suddenly it's his own radio fave, Teenage Crime. But with no audible join whatsoever! Jaws drop. We'll know better than to miss a single second of Lux next time he tours our shores.

There's always a few flying inflated frangers doing the rounds at this time of night and we watch expectantly as a heart-shaped contrivance takes shape on the stage. Digitalism's workstations resemble fancy LED music stands. Who knows what they actually do up there? All we know is that once the German duo get going, they drop beats that sneak up and slap your arse. Hard. Jens “Jence” Moelle sings a lot during Digitalism's live sets these days. Pogo sounds decidedly Bizarre Love Triangle and the breakdown into 2 Hearts sees us thrashing about so much we forget to breathe.

The tent hands out much needed free glasses of water as spent forms file out of the festival site. Retracing our steps back down Holmes Road, we decide Moolin Rouge was a constant drawcard all day, wrenching us away from the main stages like a massive beckoning hand. From inside the car we notice movement through the next vehicle's steamy windows. And then a naked leg presses against the glass. Reverse. Accelerate. “Get a room!”