Live Review: The Big Pineapple Festival

vera blue (8 of 16)

A major traffic jam on the nearby Bruce Highway, and consequent delays at the Big Pineapple Festival precinct entrance, means many punters have a later-than-anticipated start to their day out at Woombye.

With the Avant Garden Stage located just beside the main gates, patrons awaiting entry get an earful of Buck Dean and the Green Lips’ set. The amiable rockers are one of several Sunshine Coast acts filling early festival slots (along with Fight Ibis, Bearfoot, High Tropics, In2Nation and The Hi-Boys), plugging through tunes like ‘Birdseye Moon’ and ‘Shake it Doug’.

Brisbane band Hey Geronimo follow with their catchy and danceable left-of-centre indie-pop, tunes like ‘Erring on the Side of Awesome’, ‘Lazer Gun Show’ and ‘Mutant’ eliciting a fun Custard-meets-1960s pop vibe, while over at the nearby Pineapple Express Stage, Sydney’s Boo Seeka deliver a batch of mellow chill-out cuts like ‘Does This Last’, ‘Kingdom Leader, ‘Oh My’ and ‘Deception Bay’.

Straight after DZ Deathrays help to generate some clashes of bodies front of the Wild Child Stage in the main amphitheatre, they are trumped as ‘heaviest act of the day’ by Northlane, the thinking person’s Metalcore band tearing up the adjacent Sea Shepherd Stage. Bodies get pummelled in the mosh pit while the band thrash about on tracks like ‘Paragon’, ‘Intuition and ‘Quantum Flux’, the reverberations of Nic Pettersen’s kick drum feeling like repeated one-two punches to the gut from a prize fighter.

The woman most likely to be Courtney Barnett if there was no Courtney Barnett, Alex Lahey delivers a batch of fun indie-rock songs. Acknowledging that this is “Probably the only time I’ll play after Northlane”, Lahey’s laidback and witty demeanour filters through songs about relationships with psychos and tunes dedicated to arts degree graduates. ‘You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me’ and ‘Wes Anderson’ are highlights, while a cover of Ednaswap’s ‘Torn’, made popular in Australia by Natalie Imbruglia, also features.

Part of a sub-genre that could be dubbed “the Aus-chill Triple J sound”, where ambient electric pop beats, chill-out vibes and soulful vocals rule (membership includes Amy Shark, Airling, Vallis Alps, Kite String Tangle, Boo Seeka and George Maple), Vera Blue runs through a set book-ended by ‘Fingertips’ and ‘Hold’. The cruisy set also includes Hottest 100 tune ‘Settle’, fellow singles ‘Mended’ and ‘Private’, and an MGMT cover. While not everyone is engaged by the performance, the sultry singer is often mesmerising as she delivers apt background music as the sun sets on the festival site.

Returning to Woombye after last year’s Big Pineapple Festival visit, The Veronicas get people dancing straight away with set opener ‘Untouched’.  Twin sisters Lisa and Jessica Origliasso and their band go on to deliver a set full of hits such as ‘In Blood’ and a guitar heavy ‘4 Ever’, set alongside covers of Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’ and Tracy Bonham’s ‘Mother, Mother’. Jessica videos the crowd giving a “I love you Ruby Rose” shout-out to her girlfriend in the USA before performing ‘On Your Side’, while the Brisbane siblings also debut a new song, ‘We Only Hide’.

Filling the spot vacated due to Horrorshow’s unavailability, Australian hip-hop stalwart Urthboy starts off slowly performing to a largely passive audience in front of the Pineapple Express Stage. But an increase in crowd participation and interaction runs parallel with the bigger beats of rhymes like ‘We Get Around’. And you don’t need a hype man to fire up the crowd when there’s an on-stage marriage proposal, which segues into hit track ‘Long Loud Hours’. The Sydney MC caps his last show for a while with a divine cover of Meg Mac’s ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves’.

Edging out Winston Surfshirt and City Calm Down for best band name of the day, West Thebarton Brothel Party also win the trophy for most guitar strings on stage at Big Pineapple Festival. With four guitars topping off driving basslines, the Adelaide garage rockers make a joyful racket during their first Sunshine Coast visit. Raspy-voiced frontman Ray Dalfsen’s monotone slacker rants are smeared over songs like ‘Moving Out’, ‘Red or White’ and ‘Dolewave’, its music akin to The Smith Street Band and Bad//Dreems with a dash of old-school Mudhoney and The Vines.

If you only watched the on-stage action on the big screen and couldn’t hear the music, you would swear that electronic act Safia hadn’t taken to the stage, and that Northlane had replaced them for a second set. Dressed similarly in black and with comparable long hair, the acts boast vastly different musical output but have the same goal: to get the body moving. More energetic on stage than their recorded output prepares one for, Safia’s members bound across the stage while it’s a big party in the crowd.

Since Birds of Tokyo headlined the first Big Pineapple Festival four years ago, the Perth rock band had a hit single with the ambient, electronica-tinged ‘Anchor’ and then again changed musical tack with its heavy new album, Brace. Older songs such as ‘Wild at Heart’, ‘Plans’ and ‘Silhouettic’ are interspersed into the set , with high quality delivery from the band and singer Ian Kenny, as expected. However, hit tunes such as ‘This Fire’ and future Aussie classic ‘Lanterns’ are dwarfed by huge sounding, Muse-flavoured Brace songs such as ‘Empire’, ‘Harlequin’, ‘Brace’ and ‘Crown’.

Closing out proceedings at the Avant Garden, Polish Club pull the biggest crowd for the festival’s smallest stage, plugging through songs from debut album Alright Already like ‘Come Party’, ‘Beat Up’, ‘Divided’ and ‘Beeping’.  A decade after The White Stripes, The Mess Hall and The Black Keys made two-piece acts cool, Polish Club take those blues-rock cues and add a dose of indie-rock to the mix. The sound finds favour with the chilled (in demeanour and body temperature) crowd, and proof that ‘sold out’ signs at 11 of Polish Club’s 13 shows on its current Australian tour is deserved.

After an introduction on the big screen by cricket legend Shane Warne inviting the rapidly thickening crowd to “party with Peking Duk”, the assembled throng happily oblige as the giants of Australian electronic music launch into the final show of an extensive national tour that visited all of Australia’s states and territories. As the Canberra act drop The Killers mash-ups alongside hits ‘Say My Name’ and ‘High’, fans not in close proximity to the stage prove you can ably dance on a hill with a downward 30 degree angle. Things go awry about halfway through the set when an over-enthusiastic Peking Duck member causes a power outage and blackout, pulling the plug on the Big Pineapple Festival party.

Words by Lee Oliver
Behind the lens Amanda Lee Starkey

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