Words by Cathi Margherita
Photos by Peter Dovgan
Heading into its fifth year, I was keen to see if Mountain Sounds was as good as everyone says.
It was, and pretty good value for your hard earned dollars as well. The organisers made sure there were plenty of options for the campers with power, hot showers and phone charging stations. There was also a good variety of food choices catering for carnivores and vegetarians, a great selection of bevvies, stalls and merch, for those with a bit of spare cash in their pocket.
It was hot and dusty but no-one seemed to care, with everyone making an effort to get their best festival vibe happening and embrace the sparkle. Yeah – that’s all fine but what about the music?
Thanks for asking.
This was their biggest festival so far with an impressive music line-up of over 70 bands and DJs to choose from over four stages. Moving between the Unicorn and Captain Morgan stages I managed to see a lot of bands. Everyone one of them deserved to be there and had an enthusiastic fan base.
Festival highlights for me were Fripps and Fripps, a great emerging indie rock quartet from Cronulla. They played a stand out live performance and were completely stoked to be there. Drawing from a repertoire of songs from their Get Your Wet LP and Feeler on the Roof EP, the sound was a relaxed surf garage rock with a Sticky Fingers undertone. Needless to say the crowd loved them.
The Kirin J Callinan experience was everything I hoped it would be and more. Dressed in his best urban cowboy surrounded by a swirl of smoke, the crowd were deeply appreciative if not a little puzzled at times. No problem, being the ultimate showman he had the audience in the palm of his hand, as he performed My Moment and Living Each Day from the Bravado album stripped down to just his pants and killer dance moves. Another Song About Drugs got everyone smiling, but the best part of the set was Big Enough. Barnsey might not have been there for the shriek but Kirin did a good job of it supported with backing vocals from none other than Ellie-May Barnes and Izzy from the Preatures. Nailed it.
Next up was The Jim Mitchells. Festival-goers in the know rushed to the stage to see this band perform and now I know why. I was completely blown away by this impressive 5 piece from Sydney and was genuinely sorry when their 30 minute set was over. The sound is hard to pin down, kinda indy-garage with a lush 60s psych Brian Jonestown Massacre feel. The set was tight, the sound was deep, confident and polished. The crowd loved it. I’ll be purchasing a copy of Planet Absorbed when I get home and Love Hypnotic when its released this month.
Meanwhile The Preatures drew the crowd back to the main stage, with everyone feeling the love as they sang along to Somebodys Talking and Is This How you Feel?. Smiles all round. This band never fails to deliver and they single handedly lifted the bar for the rest of the night. Finishing off their set it was refreshing to see music and politics collide in a good way with Izzy acknowledging country and the traditional owners, capping it off with their beautiful song Yanada.
Chatting to some of my fellow mountaineers between sets, I was super keen to see a relatively unknown band Los Scallywaggs play their set. It was fast, loud, hectic and so much fun. They smashed out an energetic rock and roll meets surf punk set that got the mosh pit going and raised a hell of alot of dust. The bass player totally stole the show – dressed for success in a leather miniskirt and bikini top. Keep an eye out for these guys.
Avoca based local band Tropical Zombie were also highly recommended to me as well and were clearly a crowd favourite. Filling the stage with 7 members, they had a full sound and a lot of depth, delivering a diverse repertoire of songs spanning the aussie rock and garage genre. Banter with the crowd was entertaining with lots of friends in the crowd cheering them on. This band is definitely going places.
Finishing the trifecta was South West Sydney band Pist Idiots. These guys were a huge hit with the punters, playing a pulsating ear bleed set. Starting out as a bit of a joke entry in a competition, there is nothing funny about this band. Sure they’re irreverent and give an air of don’t care but they have a huge amount of talent, great stage presence and could well be the east coasts answer to Adelaide’s Bad Dreems. Stay tuned.
Indy LA based Group Love put on a polished, infectious high tempo performance. This would have to be the happiest band in the universe and it was impossible not to dance along to their sound as they played all the hits everyone wanted to hear. Vocalist Hannah Hooper bounced around the stage, interacting with the crowd and keeping the festival vibe going.
Home grown band Safia kept the feel going, with their big indie pop, electronica sound. The lighting was fantastic and people literally appeared from nowhere to fill the main stage area and see them perform.
It was a shame that Brissy based band The Creases were scheduled at the same time as Safia, performing on the Captain Morgan stage. I’m a huge fan of this band, so I was pretty happy to wander off and catch their set. With Kirin J Callinan introducing them onstage and The Preatures watching from the side, they delivered a catchy set from their Tremolow LP. The crowd danced and sang along to Asshole, Is it Love and Everybody Knows. Finishing the set with Impact, this is one talented set of musicians who will be on the live music scene for some time to come.
Heading home covered in dust, I couldn’t help but feel excited about the Australian live music scene right now. There’s so much damn talent and there really is no excuse for staying home and not getting out and amongst it.
Props to the organisers of Mountain Sounds for showcasing such a diverse and inspiring collection of artists and genres.
I’ll be back in next year for sure.