Live Review: Mountain Sounds Festival

22 February 2016 | 1:01 pm | Sara Tamim

"He played an extended guitar solo, holding the guitar up behind his head, exceeding the already high expectations of the crowd."

Mountain Sounds Festival was packed with glowing positivity as the many punters from all around Australia strolled through the Penang Parklands in Gosford. The wide-open plains were full of sparkling faces, art installations and boutique stalls filled with food, drinks and accessories.

As the morning began, Space Carbonara, the locals, took the slowly filling audience by surprise with their poise in performance and their spatial and psychedelic vibes, most notably present in their pop-orientated and pensive tune Dream No 1. Then to follow, on the Unicorn Stage World Champion brought their repetitive, poppy and syncopated, indie-rock rhythms to the foreground.

Green Buzzard echoed authentic '90s grunge with a psychedelic quirk, shown mostly through the buzz of the vocals. The constant strum of the electric guitar created an addictive yet catchy structure in the tune Slow It Down Now, which was the definite standout of the set. I Know Leopard followed, earning a much larger crowd as they graced the stage with their multifaceted style. Each member of the band effortlessly worked in conjunction with one another as the harmonies flowed. The band managed to create an incredible amount of texture in their tune Another LifeClose My Eyes started with the violin but then the unison male and female melody really made it sound angelic — a relaxing tune to add to the chill environment. They were easily one of the favourite picks of the day.

Then it was time for Hockey Dad to rock the Unicorn Stage, and they did not disappoint. For a two-piece band, they managed to make enough noise to make it seem like there were many other musicians accompanying them. They began their set with a sonic burst of vocal and musical energy, which encouraged the audience to be a little more enthusiastic. "You guys have been mellow, so we're going to step it up," they said, as they kicked off with more upbeat vibes, I Need A Woman proving a hit with the audience. A catchy and blistering set overall.

Harts entered the stage confidently, bringing his glittering '70s and '80s glam-rock vibes. In his tune Lovers In Bloom, Harts showed off his extravagant guitar-shredding as well as his silky smooth vocals; when he combined the two, it created the perfect amount of cockiness and meekness. He jumped into falsetto, with each note ringing clear, perfectly articulated. He attempted to get the audience clapping many a time, proving himself as an energetic act as well as polished performer. His guitar tricks were skilfully made to impress; in Red & Blue he played an extended guitar solo, holding the guitar up behind his head, exceeding the already high expectations of the crowd.    

When The Delta Riggs jumped onto the main stage, they shocked the crowd with their rockstar antics and pop-rock sounds, giving off an Aussie slacker/cool guy vibe, comparable to the likes of Sticky Fingers. The standout tune of the set was Supersonic Casualties, with its clever lyrical rhymes, and Bobby's Flowers, its poppy flow filled with quirky undertones. The performance was endlessly entertaining as lead vocalist Elliott Hammond jumped, leaped, drank and swayed around the stage.

Holy Holy looked nonchalant on stage, which contrasted with the edgy and booming sound in their outstanding, riff-filled tune, You Cannot Call For Love Like A Dog. However, tunes like History — which the band played earlier in the set — focused more on a folk sound, appearing pure in its simplicity. Tim Carroll's vocals were projected by his brooding vibrato, as he sang his lyrical poetry through their magical set. Alpine then shone with flamboyance; their high-pitched squeaks and high energy, mixed with the colourful lighting, created a hypnotic experience. Their suggestive dancing against instruments and speakers was kind of intense and strange at times, but worked to further maintain their quirkiness. Villages rocked with repeated guitar riffs that wormed their way into your brain, a percussive clap appearing underneath the female harmonies. Alpine finished with Gasoline, encouraging singing from the crowd as well as microphone antics from the women in the band — one threw the mic around while still singing into it. 

At the undercover Dance Tent stage, the heat radiated through the walls and onto the crowd, but it did not stop them from raving to the captivating tunes circulating around the tent from the boys of Art Vs Science. By this time, the overtiredness had kicked in, and therefore the craziness began, as people leaped and jumped and fed off of the extreme energy that Art Vs Science emitted on stage. AIM Fire! was filled with interesting breakdowns and build-ups unheard of on the recorded version, which drove the already great original to a whole new level. Before announcing the next tune, the band began to speak spiritually, using the technique of word painting. This change of pace lured the crowd into a trance-like mind space, in time for the song Magic Fountain, which overflowed with abnormal, dizzy, confusing feelings, but in the best way. The strobe-lighting in conjunction with the music and the atmosphere made for an out-of-body experience.

Violent Soho replaced The Jezabels at the last minute. The audience seemed to ooze with anticipation, as many punters bought a ticket just for them. To end the night, Violent Soho produced a strong set as always, their unbelievable talent and niche style shining through. Having said this, however, they might have fallen short as a closing act. Their set seemed to continuously drip on for a while, the songs all melding together into one. Their '90s grunge was endearing, but didn't quite possess the energetic quality needed to end such a fabulous festival. Nonetheless, the mosh was still chaotic, the audience crowdsurfing, throwing haystacks into the air, and dancing wildly. Saramona Says encouraged even more enthusiastic behaviour, as did Covered In Chrome, which did manage to help end the set on a higher note and see Mountain Sounds Festival off to a whimsical finish.