festival review: stonefest, the university of canberra
by Marissa Paine
Stonefest 2010 was always going to be the test for the newly formed UC Live!. With multiple successes under their caps this year – Lupe Fiasco, The Whitlams, Groovin’ The Moo, and Powderfinger, to name but a few – the most well-known university music festival in Canberra was going to have to reach big.
The lineup, which was re-jigged following the pull-out of The Panics and Cloud Control, wasn’t bad this year – Bliss N Eso, Pendulum, Xavier Rudd, Spiderbait and Does It Offend You, Yeah? are all solid performers, but it was missing that special ‘wow’ factor that other events this year have delivered.
That said, however, half the fun is in the atmosphere, and on this front, at least, Stonefest delivered. It may not have been the driest of days, but the constant flurry of mud, ponchos and people running about in repeatedly futile attempts to escape the rain on the open ovals gave concert-goers a release: everyone’s wet, so let’s just get in and have fun.
The day kicked off with Canberra-stalwarts Los Capitanes, winners of Triple J Unearthed, who played a quick and lively set to get the gathering crowd going. Deep Sea Arcade, Last Dinosaurs, Boy & Bear and Operator Please kept up the energy, even as the crowds streamed in and the clouds gathered.
The Silent Disco – featuring local spin doctors Strangeways, Celebrity Sex Tape and Architect DJ’s – was vibrant, heady and fun – or at least until you took off your headphones and listened to the collectively out-of-tune, out-of-time voices of every person singing to their heart’s content while dancing like a mouse in a mouse trap. When the clouds finally broke, the number of people in the tent swelled considerably: it got sweaty, it got hot and it got loud.
On the stage, however, Xavier Rudd (in a pair of skinnier than skinny jeans) played to the poncho-clad devoted; Bluejuice, dressed in what looked like lycra, feathers, electrical tape and frills, played a great, bizarre and energetic set that they seemed to think was also an audition for the Australian hurdles team. As darkness fell, and the rain continued, concert-goers kept up the energy with the aid of Airbourne, Spiderbait and Bliss N Eso. Loud, brazen and balls in your face music, these three acts kept the quakes of the intensifying rain at bay with a lot of power chords and shouting.
Headline act Pendulum delivered that and more – they kept the crowd from leaving (and afterward, from leaving with their eardrums) with a vital and technically adroit set of their best material and high-end acrobatics.
Stonefest may not have had the bright-sheen ‘wow’ that I’d desired; but it was a sullied, muddy and energetic mess of fun and rain that proved the atmosphere and eclectic punters are often worth it alone.
Although next time, how about we leave the denim cutoffs at home?