Live Review: OzFest, Miami Tavern – Saturday 23 January 2016


I’m trying to think of another word for boutique to describe this special “little” festival. I’ve never liked that word much. It sounds too old-fashioned and up itself. Ozfest is more of a niche-ish gathering of bands and punters. What an awesomely eclectic line-up of top-notch Australian artists. Probably the only minor criticism I had was that I would have liked to see a Gold Coast and Indigenous contingent in the mix, plus a nod to our native fore-fathers and mothers, and their land. Especially with it being Australia Day and all the contentious issues that can raise.

Political correctness aside, what a bloody ripper of a day.

The skies looked ominously grey. Then the sun burst out for a few scorching minutes and fried the bejesus out of us before the heavens opened and doused us just enough to refresh and settle the dust. Well, sand actually. As usual the organisers shipped in a load of sand to create a beachy atmosphere. Umbrellas were scattered around for whatever the gods of rain and sun and skies had in store for us earthlings.

TIRED LION flew on the ‘red-eye’ from Western Australia. They left Perth at 5 in the morning and were feeling pretty weary – tired lions, you might say. Still, they got proceedings off to a flying start as the crowd gradually built up. I’d missed seeing them at BigSound a few months ago. I’ve mention that there seemed to be a bit of a pride of lions and their ilk of late : Born Lion, Tired Lion, I Know Leopard…

The tribe of SASKWATCH was next take the stage. I forgot to count but there were a few of them up there, maybe nine give or take. Funky, grooving, soulful beats to shake your groove-thang to. Tres Cool. I had a bit of a chat to lead-singer Nkechie. She approached me in the band room with her beautiful smile. I was wearing a shirt I’d made at the last minute from an aboriginal flag. I was in the photo-pit snapping away and shaking my bits. She said she saw me there. “I hope you don’t mind if I ask you if you are of indigenous ancestry?’, she asked gently.

We got into a bit of a rave about all sorts of things. She is half Irish, half Nigerian and all gorgeous and cool. I overheard and also got into a bit of a chat with her and Sophie from Tired Lion as we were lolling on the couches upstairs between bands.

A rainbow formed over Miami Hill out the front of the Tavern, and over the rolling seas.

Nkechie said that the day Bowie died, in Melbourne, a huge rainbow arced over the city. We pondered if Bowie was trying to message us, tell us something. How cool, profound it would be if as we passed from this world into the next, we had the power or magic to create such a vision, to let our loved-ones know we were somewhere out there in the universe. Sort of crazy but sort of nice. The other tired Lions Matt, Ethan and Nick snoozed next to us on the couches, oblivious to our celestial rants and wonderings.

From the sublime to the insane, next was ART VS SCIENCE. Though they maintain the “outer-wordly-is there-anybody-out-there” theme with their album, spookily titled Off The Edge of the Earth and into Forever Forever, these guys, Dan, Dan and Jimmy rocked the ship out of the good ship HMAS Miami.

I last caught them up at Valley Fiesta in Brisbane a few months ago when they rocked the asphalt out of Brunswick Street. Man they are crazy good. They lure you in with their synth and cryptic dance grooves then slap you in the face with their kick-arse rock. Enter Sandman had everyone going metallically mental. Dan ripped that guitar to Kingdom Come. I’ve heard they have a bit of a rep for being manic party animals, and they were a whole load of happiness and fun when I shared a few bevvies and card-tricks with them later.

SAN CISCO are riding the wave of popularity at the moment. The crowd thronged the stage as the band released their indie-pop ditties to the hungry masses.

Everyone was well and truly into the groove. The sun began to set, the clouds throwing out amazing colours and shapes as I hung from the upstairs car-park with a view of the whole she-bang. The seas thumped on the other side, vistas over the suburbs into the hinterland hills.

It was so damn cool. I dove back down from my lofty ivory tower into the frantic guts of the mosh and picture-pit. Man. This was some kind of wonderful. I was in my element.

I bumped into The Man, SETH SENTRY up in the green/bar room as he stretched and mingled before his set. He was Seth Sentry Ozfestchauffeured from the front of The Tavern around the block to the back of stage on the GC Highway. The other bands meandered through the crowd but I guess Seth has reached star-status now. I was down there front and center for his entire show. He is virtually – nay actually – hanging over the top of me. I’m sure he sweated on me as I snapped pics and clapped and danced and acted like a kid let loose in a lolly shop.

DJ SIZZLE and Seth danced up a storm as they slammed their way through Dumb, Vacation, My Scene and Hell Boy. They brought out the hover-board for Dear Science and squirted us with water-guns. Such an awesome end to a magic day. The icing on the cake for this lucky cat was when Seth whipped off his shirt backstage, I was beside him. Perfect photo op. He put his sweaty, well-honed arm around my shoulder, I put my arm around his waist, saying, “Oh you are sweaty”. He said, “I’ve been working”.

As the camera clicked, I was frozen in the moment with a sly, coy smile on my face. Like the cat that got the cream.

Yep. Magic.

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