IT seems that while those old enough to remember watching Silverchair and Powderfinger rocking out on Recovery are still mourning the loss of the glorious Big Day Out and Homebake festivals, a younger audience continue to embrace a new generation of music-based outdoor events.
Grapevine Gathering is one of the new breed of festival, along with FKA and This That, as well as the newly-announced Up Down, scheduled to hit Newcastle Foreshore on March 17.
This new breed of music festivals largely forget the days where thousands of hippies flocked to a farm near Sunbury in 1972 to see their local rock heroes outdoors.
Of-course events like Splendour In The Grass and Groovin’ The Moo have still become cultural constants.
For over a decade they’ve provided a consumer-orientated mix of rock’n’roll bands and dance floor-ready producers.
But events like Grapevine Gathering would almost have you believe rock’n’roll is dead as the festival overly focused on electronic dance acts, rather than guitar bands.
The festival ran for two dates, the first being held in Victoria a weekend prior to it gracing Roche Estate in the Hunter Valley.
Not to discredit the amazing high energy performance by England’s The Wombats, but the early hours leading up to the headliners were filled with lengthy DJ sets from Dom Dolla and Young Franco.
While they did their thing to hype the crowd up, it felt like these slots could’ve been given to popular bands, rather than one person standing behind a desk with headphones.
DJs have their place, but is the singular main stage on a big touring festival in front of thousands of people the right place?
It meant Grapevine Gathering struggled to gain momentum until later in the day.
The first highlight of the day was Tkay Maidza, a rapper who playfully jumped around the stage with a smile on her face.
Crazy heat belted down across the festival for hours, leaving a red sunburn on those not quick enough to slip, slop, slap on some sunscreen and a hat.
It was only as Miami Horror packed out the sunset slot that the cool night air began to descend.
Miami Horror were an interesting addition to the lineup.
Having been mostly out of the spotlight lately, the band pushed through a variety of material from their synth-infused ’80s pop revival back catalogue.
The highlight was the 2010 smash hit Holidays, which brought back memories of the road trip style music video a lot of the 20-something crowd would’ve seen one Saturday morning on Rage.
Despite making the crowd fall in love with their summery jams, the vibe and attitude the band were exhibiting onstage did seem a little off.
At one point, the vocalist and guitarist Josh Moriarty announced, “we’re Miami Horror, but you knew that because you came.” Sit down, be humble.
The sun set, leaving room for the stars to light up the two large purple grapevines protruding from either side of the stage.
Client Liaison then kept the ’80s vibes going with their set. Embracing the aesthetic of Australiana in the Hawke to Howard years, they powered through choreographed numbers, and even whipped out a keytar, as they performed tracks from their debut album Diplomatic Immunity.
Client Liaison were definitely a crowd favourite, that is, until The Wombats took to the stage. The Liverpool three-piece were a refreshing change of pace.
They played all the hits - Let’s Dance To Joy Division and Techno Fan, before ending with Tokyo – Vampires & Wolves and Greek Tragedy.
The incredible light show shone up the hill, making good use of the natural amphitheatre, as Grapevine’s crowd began to dissipate come 10pm.
Traffic jams plagued those driving back to Newcastle, but many didn’t mind, as they had spent the whole day boogieing all their worries away.
I heard it through the grapevine that the festival may return in 2019. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.