It was a stinker of a day for Adelaide’s first big festival of 2023 Heaps Good where this little nanna visited Wayville Showgrounds for the first time since Rage against the Machine played Big Day Out in 2004. Although I am considerably older (and sober) these days, it was like getting on a bicycle where the guidelines are simple; stay hydrated, look after your mates and wear as little clothing as possible. It was not only a nostalgic trip for me but a good line up of mostly Australian artists where I got to sample live acts by the bands all the cool kids are listening to right now. Of course, the headliner Arctic Monkeys were the great big juicy cherry on top of an impressively stacked bill however the tone of the day was chill summer vibes with a nice selection of rock, groove and electronica. Also apparently early 90s fashion is in full swing (again)
Kicking off the day to a small yet enthusiastic and freshly sun blocked audience, local favourites Mum Thinks Blue got a taste of their first festival appearance and nailed it. Everything about these guys from their catchy happy tunes to their stage presence and rich ensemble complete with keytar and saxophone is a delight. In fact, I have never witnessed anyone able to play the sax while simultaneously jumping up and down onstage let alone for an entire set. Call it adrenaline from playing a festival stage or just youthful energy but Mum thinks Blue played like they were the main act and got everyone jolly for the marathon ahead of them.
After a ceremonious Welcome to Country performed by traditional custodians, everyone was amped for Peach PRC who shyly followed her session guitarist onstage to familiar faces in the crowd. Another Adelaide baby fresh from the womb and about to take on the world after becoming tiktok famous and writing some insanely good pop songs, Peach PRC could have easily been put higher up on the bill alongside the likes of Chvrches due to her popularity and outrageous talent. Her memorable and clever lyrics mixed with boppy alluring electronic music and teamed with her trademark pink hair and flamboyant risqué outfits already has her marked for superstardom. As well as energetically delivering hits Josh “God is a Freak’ and Symptomatic we were offered a couple unreleased tracks, one of which Perfect for You has already been endorsed by Paris Hilton. I’m certain the next time I see this 25-year-old twirl and bounce around in pink lingerie will be at a standalone arena show with a full band and back up dancers probably dressed as Care Bears.
By this point I had just about as much full sun as I can take in one sitting and grabbed a vegan gyros from one of the many amazing food trucks on site to watch King Stingray do their thing from the shade of the grandstands. They kept the energy high and happy with their unique mix of ‘surf rock’ and Yolngu culture with the sounds of their didgeridoo echoing powerfully through the showgrounds. Followed closely by Pinkpantheress, we were treated to what can only be described as a mini lunchtime DnB party while the London born artists tried not to melt onstage during the suns peak.
Taking the title of personal favourite act of the day was G Flip, and I am not just saying that because I am gay for them. It was a tough time getting as close to the stage as possible through the sea of long-time adoring fans and the crowd at the main stage multiplied suddenly for the iconic Aussie artist’s appearance. Opening with recent track Get Me Out Of Here after a brief drum jam, G Flip ran laps of the stage singing with precision and flashing that ridiculous smile of theirs to screaming fans. They did a great service to those of us that have followed them since the days of their YouTube bedroom sessions by performing tracks from their first album About Us – notably Lover, which they never play live but responded to Instagram requests leading up to the day. Along with the title track About Us and Killing My Time, G Flip’s performance was as heartfelt as it was high energy. G Flip’s band rocked out and the performance was the biggest and loudest of the day. Finishing with a cover of Valerie and Gay 4 Me, it felt like the crowd had well and truly peaked for this halftime show and everyone was ready for the onslaught of big acts to come.
Taking another sunscreen break before picking a grassy spot to fry myself to the groovy sublime sounds of Ocean Alley, it was a perfect moment to take a breath and appreciate the sophistication of their unique take on psychedelic rock and reggae fusion. The six-piece were all hands on deck, sounding studio quality to the incredible voice of lead singer Badan Donegal. Offering a nice selection of well known and mellow hits such as Confidence and Touch Back Down, my favourite track was their cover of Baby Come Back which honestly sounds better than the original by Player.
As Ocean Alley finished up and I geared myself for the appearance of Spacey Jane, it seemed the universe had other plans when the only other 38-year-olds at the festival found me, adopted me, and promptly dragged me to the ‘Bottlebrush Stage’ aka Boiler room and holy wow, everyone in there was just super happy. Jamie xx took the turntables and what ensued was a packed-out sweaty rave with a mix of house and happy hardcore. I had a little boogie, enjoyed some flashbacks of my bush doof days and momentarily forgot it was still daytime outside. After what seemed like an amped up Zumba class guest starring an internationally famous DJ, I farewelled my new happy friends and headed back to the Eucalyptus stage as Chvrches started.
Lauren Mayberry span around feverishly singing hits such as Leave a Trace, Recover and Clearest Blue with emotive force and her distinctive hyper feminine voice. It was perfect timing as the gorgeous purple and orange sunset lit up the sky behind the stage. Having loved the quirky Scottish indie synth pop outfit for years, I couldn’t have asked for a better moment to witness them live. The crowd was still going strong and the mood was light and joyous.
After ten epic sweaty hours, several litres of water, two cans of sugar free Red Bull and a metric tonne of SPF 50+, UK rock giants Arctic Monkeys came out to a blazing light show and excited crowd. As I had not yet had the pleasure of seeing them live I wasn’t even sure what to expect but it was definitely a vibe that worked with the easy going relaxed mood of the day. Suited up sharply like music royalty and playing with meticulous accuracy, Arctic Monkeys started slow and funky with recent track I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am before winding it all the way back to 2007 to the fast paced Brainstorm then to standout 2013 album AM track Snap Out Of It and yes, ten years later that album is still the favourite, with every single track played from it being met with hysteria and Do I Wanna Know being belted out most enthusiastically by the audience. Their encore performance kept to the same formula busting back out with R U Mine? to an acoustic rendition of There’d Better Be A Mirrorball from the most recent album The Car and finishing off with 505 again from 2007 album Favourite Worst Nightmare. It was a quality set showcasing the versatile range and diversity of the band’s catalogue with a prestige only an act as refined and long standing as Arctic Monkeys could pull off. Whether a long time fan or not, it was a great show and a very satisfying note to finish the festival on.
Feeling elated and exhausted, I took this sore, sunburnt and dirty nanna home through a very well behaved and sparsely dressed crowd of young people and a pile up of parents outside the gate waiting to collect them and get them home safely. Despite the garish heat and long hours, it was a successful day and a superb kick off to what is going to be a hectic year for live music. Slip slop slap everyone.
Live Review By Bec Scheucher