1. Australian music takes centre stage
Groovin the Moo travels rather light on international acts for a nationally touring festival, usually only enlisting a handful and complementing them with a deep line-up of Australian talent. This year featured even more Aussies than usual following the late withdrawal of American acts Vic Mensa and Mutemath, replaced by locals Jarryd James and What So Not.
As disappointing as it was to lose both Mensa and Mutemath, their replacements certainly did their part to ease the pain. Jarryd James serenaded a large audience as the sun began to set in the evening while across the park What So Not had the Moulin Rouge tent bouncing in one of the most talked-about sets of the day.
As well as the late inclusions, the quality of Australian music was on fully display everywhere with the likes of The Rubens, Boy & Bear, Boo Seeka, SAFIA and Alison Wonderland all giving excellent performances.
Alison Wonderland in particular made for one of the day’s best stories. Her headlining set comes a mere three years after appearing at Groovin the Moo as a throw in at the bottom of the lineup. At the time, Wonderland was a largely unknown DJ whose role was to play short intermission sets between acts on the Moulin Rouge stage. This year she had the centre stage to herself at the top of the night. With a hit debut album and a live show that seems to get better every time she plays, it seems unlikely that Alison Wonderland will ever find herself far from the top of an Australian festival bill again in her career.
2. In a day of peaks, Danny Brown dips
If there’s one booking decision the Groovin the Moo team may need to step back and reconsider, it’s their choice of American rappers to feature on the bill.
In 2014, they secured Action Bronson – a talented rapper who impressively managed to not only cancel on Groovin the Moo, but also Beyond the Valley in the same calendar year. Last year we had A$AP Ferg, who played a great set which seemed to miss the mark in Bendigo with a crowd uninitiated in the Trap Lord’s unique brand of rap.
2016’s questionable inclusion was Danny Brown, who delivered an energetic set that fell flat with the crowd. The only song which received much response was ‘Dip’, which comprised of sweaty, intoxicated punters trying their hearts out to keep up with the track’s addictive, rapid-fire chorus.
Between the lukewarm reception Danny Brown received and Vic Mensa pulling out, the promoters of Groovin the Moo would be well served to take a different approach when it comes to booking American hip-hop acts. Finding more reliable rappers who gel better with the tastes of the crowd is no easy task, but it would remedy the only blemish on an otherwise stellar line-up.
3. Australian hip-hop concludes a historic month
Although Groovin the Moo has had some issues finding the right American rappers, they’ve hit home runs with the Australian rappers enlisted over the years and this iteration was no exception.
In the middle of a career renaissance, Drapht and his brass band delivered one of the day’s most electric sets. The crowd was hot from the start as Drapht dropped ‘Sing It’ early and he managed to keep their attention all the way through to closing numbers ‘Jimmy Recard’ and ‘Rapunzel’.
Elsewhere, Dylan Joel, Illy and Remi were in the Moulin Rouge tent. The three Victorians were all impressive in their own right but it was Remi who threatened to steal the show. Playing an short but sweet set laced with hits from his young career, Remi was on top of his game for the loving hometown crowd.
It’s been a huge few weeks for Australian hip-hop with the Hilltop Hoods becoming the first Aussie rap act to sell out Rod Laver Arena and Groovin the Moo Bendigo capped off the month in style.
4. Watch it for The Plot
A recent addition to the GTM tour, The Plot is a dedicated tent for the overage punters in the licensed area which features an assortment of performers and up-and-coming DJs. It’s hard to catch many of the acts there over the course of the day given all that’s happening elsewhere, but anyone who didn’t stick their head in during the day well and truly missed out.
Highlights this year included Amrita Hepi’s Pop Culture Dance Class, an interactive show which is as bizarre and fun as the name suggests, and The Meeting Tree.
Blasting through ‘First Place, pt. 1’ and ‘r u a cop’ with their surprise guest Adam Hyde from Peking Duk, the duo of Joyride and Raph Lauren were showered in love, beer and even a bra by their adoring crowd. The self-appointed Godfathers of ADM revelled in the madness, happily passing the microphone over to the crowd who capably belted out the choruses to every track on the setlist.