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Live Review: Rock The Gate

26 November 2014 | 4:13 pm | Liz Giuffre

The Herd lead the mini-festival gig and even get security dancing

Fundraiser mini-festival gigs can always go one of two ways – the full corporate Geldolf or a bit indie, rough and charming. Rock The Gate was certainly the latter, for all the right reasons.

Put together to draw attention and raise awareness about plans to develop fracking (a type of mining to stimulate the extraction of coal gas) across various parts of the country, the Rock was deliberately staged in the inner city to get those not immediately affected involved and hopefully committed. Seven venues around Enmore/Newtown hosted a variety of line-ups from mid-afternoon, with The Enmore Theatre serving as ‘main stage’ from early evening.

Across the bill was a mixture of activists, advocates and musicians, with, amazingly, no dead hours for the hours that the stage was occupied. Highlights included the awesome Mic Conway, who charmed his way through originals as well as a cover of Mad World complete with a saw and newspaper solo (ripping into both, in the most melodic of ways), as well as Tex Perkins & The Dark Horses prowling around, and David Bridie in sweet keyboard loveliness.

Later in the evening Natalie Pa’apa’a from Blue King Brown owned the stage twice, first as part of a gorgeous trio then helping out Pete Murray in full rock band mode. Kudos too to the roadies who somehow got all those amps on and offstage in record time. Ash Grunwald split his time between the cause and his tunes a bit more forcefully, talking passionately, if not with slight disappointment, about the need for such a fundraiser and campaign in the first place. “Why isn’t this place packed to the rafters?” he said to quite a healthy room (albeit not open upstairs). “Don’t be disheartened, the others WILL catch on and hopefully not before it’s too late.”

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As another epic stage change was taking place, Lock The Gate leaders (so those wanting to mobilise action to stop fracking and promote awareness of the destructive practice) spoke clearly and with remarkable calm. “This is a call to country and to join together,” said one; with another simply saying “this is not just a call for protest, but a call to progress to something new.” As the music continued including more collaborations,

The Herd’s set continued to ring true – from the infectious joy rally, Emergency, to their most famous 77%, they had the camera woman dancing along onstage and security guards up the back moving on the spot. Great music for a great cause – let’s hope both continue to gain attention.