"They are billed as the headliners and for good reason, because they sure as hell do give us a headline-worthy performance."
It's that time of year again for Brisbane's burgeoning homegrown bash Red Deer Festival to strut its stuff, and the weather gods are shining on the hordes of laidback punters who have gathered to enjoy the festivities in these gorgeous surrounds.
With the peak of the scorching sun coming down hard Elliott The Bull do well to add even more heat and colour to the early afternoon. Their fresh take on folk really find its moments and acts as a wonderful complement to the mountainous surroundings, both bringing out the very best in each other.
A short, post-vote drive into the festival grounds and you're passing a giant drum circle, utes with couches and kegs on the back and scattered tents to a Sublime soundtrack. Tribute band The Lou Dogs set the right vibe while a few dance out to Santeria and Get Ready, but most are just enjoying the sounds, the mountain air and the cloudless sky while leaning from their seat of choice (hammocks included) to grabbing a beverage from their own Eskiess.
Little Bec Laughton confidently leads her band through a funky array of songs that see her fine vocal talents shine. Though her lyrics do occasionally jump out a bit irritatingly, it's a light-hearted affair overall and still comes off as a bit of fun in the sun.
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As the blaring sun cools off, the afternoon breeze is a perfect delight to carry the chill sounds and harmonies of Bobby Alu. The band switches from ukulele island vibes to each band member hitting Polynesian percussion to start the barefoot dancing and shaking.
Red Deer residents The Dashounds keep the floor going as they drink from their stacked Super Dry cans while the drummer bangs out in his bunny suit. They move from grunge to covers such as Do You Love Me, which has people jumping with hands raised and establishes tonight's mosh collectively scuttling only a few metres to and from each stage throughout the night.
As the moon now lights up the sky, amazing live act and electronic artist Danny Harley walks out to a clear following of his project The Kite String Tangle. All eyes and ears are enthralled by his perfectly-arranged electronics and well-matched vocals as they trickle out through the purple stage lights into the open air. A placid cheer is heard as he plays a “remix of a guy called Flume, I don't know if you know him”.
Opening with his joyous rendition of The Lion King's I Just Can't Wait To Be King The Lyrical wins the crowd over quickly. Invariably a resident of the festival, he and his band seem right at home in this environment and this only heightens the enthusiasm and passion behind the performance. His energy moves through powerful forms of melodic protest whilst he delivers a strong set that goes some way to expand upon the victories of past years.
Smiling Chance Waters charms the pants off everyone as they sing along to feel-good favourites Maybe Tomorrow and Young And Dumb. He stops for a chat after seeing “someone pointing up, is something wrong?” and then gets asked to turn his mic up. The band then continues to jam out, including a cover of Somebody That I Used To Know.
Fresh from a Nashville tour Melbourne rock'n'rollers Kingswood hit the just officially blessed Ed Hope Stage. Vocalist Fergus and drummer Justin spit-spray beer and water as a pre-show hype, a clear indication of the insanity ahead. Lead guitarist Alex clearly drives their sound, blowing everyone away for a full rock'n'roll set filled with hair and harmonising and security holding down the front stage box as Alex jumps up on it. The mosh starts going crazy with either banging heads or screaming girls as they blast their sound out into the evening. One banger keeps yelling out “Kingswood fucking give it to me!” which has Fergus giving it to him in the form of a loving hug. Their captivating Jolene cover steals the set, holding the crowd still for a brief moment, but they erupt again as the intro to Ohio starts; it ends with Fergus in the crowd.
Opener, Trampoline, sees The Grates start from their humble beginnings and thrash their way headfirst straight into the action. Frontwoman Patience Hodgson is as captivating as ever, with her explosive energy acting as the driving force that propels the seemingly limitless momentum of this exciting affair. Meanwhile guitarist John Patterson and the guest drummer do great in their respective roles and provide a solid foundation throughout. Classics such as 19-20-20, Rock Boys and Sukkafish slot it comfortably alongside the likes of Turn Me On and a selection of new songs that bring a little touch of freshness to their set. They are billed as the headliners and for good reason, because they sure as hell do give us a headline-worthy performance. By the time they leave the stage they've well and truly helped the collective to exorcise their rock demons thoroughly enough for some great sense of satisfaction.
Last but not least Pigeon DJs round of the night with a banging set. A great selection of hard-hitting dance and hip hop is cued up and mixed in a mighty cauldron to produce a party potion strong enough to keep the mass of wide-grinned punters dancing into the late of night.