The festival itself ran brilliantly. The layout was nice and simple, with easy access to all bathrooms, bars and stages. Staff, security guards and police were helpful and the crowd was well-behaved, good natured, courteous and fun loving. No shirtless, sweaty apes dragging their knuckles!
As for the music, we burst through the gates and zipped past a bar and headed right to Dexy’s Midnight Runners. The band meandered through 30 minutes of their 45-minute set to about 300 people sitting around, talking and drinking beer. Then, the crowd caught wind of the wiry fiddle tune signifying the start of “Come On Elieen” and everyone sprang to their feet and rushed up to the stage – all of a sudden it was a whole different show.
After that it was The Dandy Warhols on the main stage. I love The Dandy’s. I’ve seen them quite a few times and they usually pull out quite a good show. However, I felt they kind of phoned it in for Harvest. Courtney Taylor-Taylor (lead vocals and guitar) seemed quite flat and everybody aside from Zia (synth) seemed a bit bored. They pulled out the standard festival set with all their big name songs (“Bohemian Like You”, “We Used to Be Friends”, “Get Off”, “Good Morning”) with a couple of newer ones thrown in. They still pulled in a massive crowd and people were having fun.
After The Dandy’s it was time for Mondo Cane, the passion project of Faith No More singer Mike Patton. Mondo Cane is Patton delivering covers of 50s and 60s Italian pop songs with a full orchestra backing along with back-up singers, keyboardists and a few guitarists. Patton’s voice lends itself to this kind of music. It gives him a chance to show off his incredible range and subtlety with crashing crescendos and gentle melodies.
Next up was Cake. They seem to have a pretty massive Australian following and a huge crowd came out to see them. I enjoyed their set, for the most part. They played “Frank Sinatra” and “Stick Shifts and Safetybelts”, two of my favourite songs off Fashion Nugget, and they were good for a dance. However, I had to leave their set early to go see my two new favourite bands, Chromatics and F**k Buttons.
After being at the main stage all day in the thick of a large crowd, it was weird to be standing in the front row of a small stage with about 80 to 100 other people. But everyone seemed pretty hyped to see Chromatics on their second Australian show. As the sun sets and the band takes the stage the scene seems perfect for their brand of slick, gentle synth-pop. If you’re unfamiliar with the band, think of the soundtrack to the 2011 movie Drive and you’re on the right track. Ruth Radlet’s voice was spot on, her ethereal tones blending beautifully with Jonny Jewel’s thick, catchy synth lines. They played a great selection off their two LPs, 2007’s Night Drive and 2012’s Kill for Love including “Night Drive”, “I Want Your Love”, “Running Up That Hill”, “Lady” and “Kill for Love”. They’re a great band and they played an amazing set.
If you’re waiting for comment on Beck and Sigour Ros, I unfortunately didn’t see either due to timetable clashes with F**k Buttons and Santigold. However, my housemates said Beck was amazing and played a good selection of hits like “Loser”, “Novocain”, “Devil’s Haircut” and finished with “Where It’s At”.
Now to my absolute highlight of the day. F**k Buttons are an experimental noisy electronic duo consisting of Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power, out of England, characterised by densely layered songs undercut with driving tribal beats. Their set was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. They spent the full hour bouncing loops and synth lines off each other, standing either side a desk about the size of a ping-pong table, covered with an array of wires and buttons. The show was a constant sea of sound. Then, at the height of a thick wall of layers and beats, the two look up at each other, count to three and then cut it. The silence was deafening. It took the crowd a few seconds to process before they could even cheer. The two just walked up to the microphone, said thanks and then walked off.
All in all, my second year at Harvest Festival was great. Awesome bands, good crowd and it just ran so smoothly. I’m already excited for next year’s line-up.