Thursday, 15 November 2012

Harvest Festival - 11 November 2012, Werribee Park

After missing out on Harvest last year and hearing all the rave reviews of it I was pretty determined to go this year. Then the lineup was announced and, other than Sigur Rós, I either wasn’t that interested, or had already seen the bands. I ummed and ahhed and finally bought a ticket at the last minute. Good decision. I finally get what people are on about when they talk about lineups not mattering that much at some festivals. Having said that, with the benefit of hindsight, if there had been lots of bands I really loved on the lineup I would have inevitably missed some and/or much rather have seen them headlining than playing crowd pleasing sets. And crowd please they did, Beirut in particular seemed to know exactly what people wanted. While his show at the start of the year was good, this was great.

My only serious criticism of the show was the amount of sound that bled between stages – the quiet bits of Sigur Rós’ set weren’t quite as ethereal when Crazy P are thumping away in the background. Hopefully next year they’ll be able to organise the stages slightly differently and/or slightly reduce the volume limits. Having said that, it wouldn’t deter me from going next year.

Rather than put up a post for every set, I’ll just update them here as I do them.

The War on Drugs -

Having only discovered this band recently I’m already pretty obsessed by them. I think it’s pretty safe to say they’ll be on my ‘Best Albums I Bought This Year Because I’m Not a Fancy Reviewer Who Gets Free Albums and Can Do a Best Albums Released This Year’ list, and they’ll be soundtracking a lot of my summer. Their set at Harvest was pretty early in the day, so the crowd is small. At the time I didn’t enjoy the set that much, but listening back to it, it’s actually really good, it was just weird having such a small crowd who weren’t really focussed on the band.

The quality of the recording is good. The band switched from setting up their instruments to starting the set without any warning, so I had to organise my recorder as they began. This caused a bit of russling, but after that the sound is very good.

Your Love is Calling My Name
The Animator
Come to the City
Comin' Through
Baby Missiles
Best Night
Taking the Farm
I Was There
Arms Like Boulders

Silversun Pickups -

I’d heard a lot about Silversun Pickups, but never heard their stuff before this. They were OK, but I wasn't blown away. Part of the problem was the amusing/obnoxious people in front of me. You can hear quite a bit of their conversation on the recording, although you might find listening to it irretrievably loses you a couple of points of IQ (you can hear their views on peanut butter, Will Douglas (“he’s so tall and muscley”) and appropriate cars for a mid-life crisis (a manual convertible, but not automatic). On the other hand, their drone is pretty constant, so it’s mostly easy to filter out.

Skin Graph
The Royal We
Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)
Busy Bees
Little Lover’s So Polite
Mean Spirits
The Pit
Panic Switch
Dots and Dashes (Enough Already)
Lazy Eye

This ended up being Beirut’s final show of the tour, after the remaining performances were cancelled. Listening to this, and thinking back, Zach Condon looked tired, and complained of jetlag a bit. But this was easy to overlook at the time, because, despite what subsequent events might lead you to suspect, they played a really great crowd-pleasing festival set. As has been the case for all of these recordings, there’s a bit of crowd noise, although not as much as Silversun Pickups, or even the Beirut show at the start of the year.

Santa Fe
Scenic World
The Shrew
Elephant Gun
Postcards from Italy
East Harlem
Serbian Cocek
The Rip Tide
A Sunday Smile
After the Curtain
My Night with the Prostitute from Marseille
The Gulag Orkestar

Lots of people were really excited to see Beck, but I wasn’t one of them. I never really got into him when he was big in the 90’s (I didn’t hate him, the stuff I heard was fine, some of it good, but not good enough to make me want to go out and find more), and nothing has really changed since. Which in some ways makes him a perfect festival act for me – get to hear the hits, and if its no good there are lots of other things to go see.

But it was good. The hits generally got played (although, to his obvious annoyance, he wasn’t allowed to play E-Pro at the end of the set because of hit time limit), and a bunch of others made an appearance. It was fun, but I don’t know if it was enough to convince me to go to a headlining show.

I’ve done a reasonable bit of messing round with this to limit the amount of talking you can hear. There is still quite a bit, but lots less than there was. There’s also some weird interference that I’ve never had before. I don’t know what caused it, and hopefully it won’t happen again. Having said all that, the sound is good overall, just a couple of occasional annoyances.

Devil’s Haircut
One Foot in the Grave
Soul of a Man
The New Pollution
Think I’m In Love
Modern Guilt
Qué Onda Güero
Strange Addiction
The Golden Age
Lost Cause
Soldier Jane
Gamma Ray
Where It’s At

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