Down On The Farm 2014

Just as a follow up album to a breakthrough artist can load on the pressure after a massively successful debut, I’m sure that the Down On The Farm organisers were sweating on the success of this year’s festival. Although it turned out that most of the sweating on the day was done by the approximately 700 punters that attended and rocked out to Cosmic Psychos, Warped, Drunk Mums, Bad//Dreems, Powerline Sneakers, Child, Miss Destiny, Modesty and the awesomely destructive Boxwars!

It started out looking gloomy first up in the morning with the forecast questionable but as Modesty kicked off the day and people started filtering in at midday, everything started to brighten up. Although it’s alcohol friendly, Down On The Farm is an all ages event with kids under 12 free and it was great to see how many were there from the start and enjoying the music, food and all round fun.

Modesty vocalist Kate Boston Smith kicked off the day leading by example and showing everyone how to let go and have a good time dancing around the stage with reckless abandon!

Next up Miss Destiny played to sunshine with their perfect ‘90s riot grrl grunge style. It was discussed if they were around back then with the likes of Babes In Toyland, Hole, Bikini Kill and Huggy Bear would they sound as good as they do now or be drowned out? It was overwhelmingly decided they would be up there with the best. Definitely a band to look out for!

After returning home from a crazed yet successful tour of Indonesia with Dead City Ruins, Child meandered out on stage with less than three hours sleep but still loads of classic blues swagger. It was clear they’d played pretty much every day while away for two weeks as they sounded as tight as ever. A set full of the expected heartfelt blues and soul deep rhythms and so great to hear singer / guitarist Matthias Northway’s vocals up in the mix as they sometimes sinks a little too far back up against the instruments. His voice delivers another layer of broken hearts and sweeping delights.

By this time the surrounding grassed areas and shade under the trees was starting to fill up. Situated right next to Emu Plains racecourse and only minutes from the campsite at Balnarring beach, the festival had organised regular round trips picking up punters by bus as well as returning them at the end of the day. The stunning silver streamlined Sailor Jerry caravan sat to the right of the stage gleaming in the sun with other food trailers set up near the entrance at the back and next to the bar including Calamari, Nuoc Mama’s Vietnamese and Shorty’s Hotdog’s.

More sombreros and cowboy hats rolled in amongst the sea of blue eskies as Powerline Sneakers kicked off. Featuring members of Powder Monkeys, Bored!, Splatterheads, Ripe and Guttersnipes the band have gained a reputation for writing expertly crafted songs and singer / guitarist Sly Faulkner’s “ooo’s” would fit perfectly on a present day rocked up Happy Days soundtrack. It also needs to be said that John Olson’s keys sounded amazing and especially outside!

Although it wasn’t necessary it was pretty cool to break up the music with something just as entertaining and perhaps even a little crazier. “Boxwars is the embodiment of both art and destruction. Using the near perfect medium of cardboard, a spark of imagination has become an enduring testament to ingenuity and resourcefulness.” In other words, they make cool stuff out of cardboard and trash the hell out of it! As Boxwars MC ol’ Uncle Chop Chop came out onto the stage and introduced himself to the crowd as Chopper Reid reincarnated with Kerry Packers ears and summoned by the Hindu Gods, eight foot high cardboard kangaroos came out from behind the stage bouncing around where usually the punters would be dancing to bands. Uncle Chop Chop spoke of how each of them was named after a North Melbourne footballer and the great Kangaroo Cull of 2014. Then out came the hunters complete with cardboard shotguns driving their cardboard ute and mayhem and wanton destruction ensued. It was an all-out eco-friendly brawl of recyclable goods. Hunters attacked kangaroos and kangaroos kicked back. Photographer’s circles like sharks at feeding time and as the crowd edged in closer some couldn’t hold back with Modesty vocalist Kate Boston Smith once again leading the way with a flying backhanded wrestling manoeuvre Hulk Hogan would be proud of. Then in went the kids, some just to start building cubby houses and some helping with the destruction, “Get that kid out of there!” It was hilariously awesome! The amount of time the Boxwars crew had spent on creating such brilliance only to destroy it all for our enjoyment made it even more special. Then as quickly as it had begun, it was over, “The Kangaroo cull is over Down On The Farm.”

Down On The Farm had thought of everything and worked hard at making the day a success, and brought down Sydney’s Yo Grito DJ’s who played some of the coolest music ever heard at a festival, including tracks by Butthole Surfers, Los Daltons, The Victims and The Lime Spiders.

By the time Sun God Replica started it was like most people had thrown their keys into the Down On The Farm swingers party fruit bowl and were sitting on each other’s chairs and picnic blankets and standing having a beer with new mates. SGR have a good following yet they’re still one of Australia’s most underrated bands. The three-piece are all such talented muso’s with exceptional song writing skills. Think Sgt Peppers era craftsmanship blended with singer / guitarist Link McLennan’s legendary roars with a rhythm section of a garage psych shaman by way of bassist Lance Swagger and drummer Lochie Cavigan, quite hypnotic indeed!

The sense of community among the crowd is truly inspiring. A person with a group
nearby started walking around everyone offering up an esky lid platter of cheese and crackers! I look forward to seeing Soundwave pick up on this awesome gesture.

Perhaps Link McLennan from Sun God Replica summed it up perfectly… “Best Down On The Farm, fuckin awesome!”

Adelaide’s Bad//Dreems have been getting a reputation as a must see live band selling out their debut EP launch tour and playing a host of dates constantly around the country. Their loose style of indie rock with tinges of garage pop thrown in pulled more of the crowd down the front. Bassist James Bartold thumping bass was stand out as well as at times the raspiness and Kurt-like style of Ben Marwe’s vocals. They played a great cover of GOD’s ‘My Pal’ which made everyone’s ears prick up if they hadn’t already by now.

What is it about some bands that make usually reserved grown men need to run into a crowd, throw their hands onto stranger’s shoulders and thrust themselves up into the air, as soon as they hear that first strum? Cosmic Psychos kicked straight into ‘Pub’ and it was on.

Everyone was sucked to the front like a fly down a drain hole and it was the biggest mosh of the day. The picnic tables and eateries up the back was like a ghost town as the guys showed us what pub rock is all about; killer riffs, fat chunky distortion, some laughter in between songs and guitarist Macka playing in his Bonds undies.

There’s something comforting about the Psychos, whenever they play as you know it will be awesome and it doesn’t matter when you get down the front to get into it as every song is as good as the last. They finished on the classic 'Lost Cause' with Ross Knight introducing it, “This is a fuckin good gig down here, it’s a ripper, I hope it goes on forever!”. Then out they came again for an encore to bless Down On The Farm with the fan favourite ‘David Lee Roth’!

Sometimes a conversation happening next to you at a gig can be just as entertaining (or in the case of those discussing things, frustrating) as the band. The loose antics of The Drunk Mums hit the stage and some of those near me were confused. It seems that ‘Tambourine player’ Isaac Forsyth was distracting them from how awesome the band is.

Several important points were pondered: Although it seems that Forsyth’s role is to jump around the sage like a lunatic and not actually contribute meaningfully to the band, does he get a 20% cut of the 5-piece bands earnings? Therefore does he also actually have to contribute 20% to the expenses of making and putting out releases? As he was only wearing black crosses over his nipples on his top half made out of tape, does he in fact try jumping around with various types and colours of tape at rehearsal? And was he of course the ‘Drunk Mum’ himself? Many key points were raised and discussed but possibly not many could be answered except that the party band did in fact end their set with friends and fans up on stage going crazy and having a blast!

It was unfortunate that a massive chunk of the crowd had started to leave after Cosmic Psychos and continued to do so through Drunk Mums set, though Warped still came out with a determination and electricity that resparked the crowd, pulled them up off their seats and got them down the front for a rock solid set of guitars, riffs and rock! No matter the line-up, time and time again Warped prove they’re Geetroit / Melbourne rock royalty and they didn’t stop going hard from start to finish. The band even had members crowd surfing while still playing their guitars! It was the perfect end to such an awesome day of rock in the country, of mostly beautiful weather, of a such an amazing day, of being…Down On The Farm.

Once again Down On The Farm reaffirms it’s the highlight of the year on the annual festival circuit and shows that a sense of community, togetherness and positive attitude is as important as the music in putting on a solid day. The medical team and security on the day were stoked to report there were no major issues, that everyone behaved themselves and looked out for each other and was just there to have fun. Thanks to all those involved for another amazing down that will be hard to beat. Down On The Farm 2015 just can’t get here soon enough!

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