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The Great Escape
Friday

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The line-up for this year's Great Escape festival didn't really appeal to me. The Roots were tempting, but I think if I did want to see them again, it would be as part of their own show - not in the imperfect festival atmosphere.

As it turned out I landed a couple of tickets for the Friday - the opening day of the festival. The main stage action ran Ben Kweller, The Vines, Hilltop Hoods and closed by Wolfmother. Not ideal, or even that tempting, but I was interested in seeing The Vines, having heard nothing but good things about them since their 'comeback' started up.

Considering I have every Vines album and, especially their debut, think they could very well be one of the finer rock outfits this country has produced in the past 10 years, it is kinda embarassing that I can't recall ever seeing them live. I have had my chances, but somehow things seem to come up and get in the way. Even last year, as they played their first public show in some time, a semi-secret gig in the small side room of the Annandale Hotel, I already had tickets to see the Yeah Yeah Yeah's that same night.

This is why, even though I could think of better things to do on a public holiday Friday than to drive out to Homebush, fight the crowds and drunken revelers (yes, I am an old man now) just to see an hour or so of live music, I was still tempted enough about positive reports of The Vines' return to navigate the automobile down ol' Parramatta Road.

Firstly, the festival was very well set-up and organised. I am unsure on whether or not it's unpopular or just well set-up but it was easy to get in and out and 'fight' through the crowds. I read a sign on the way in that it there was free entry for kids under 15. This explained why there was so many youngsters there, many of which I imagine had tricked their parents into dropping them off at the nearby Easter Show just so they could go and smoke pot, listen to some bands and hit on girls 10 years older than them. Oh, to be young again.

The crowd was generally pretty receptive of the music. That said there were still dickheads-a-plenty in the form of kids with Australian get-ups and numerous groups who thought it would have been a great idea to all wear matching t-shirts with their names on the back and THE GREAT ESCAPE on the front in black ink. Yeah, cool as, guys. Cool as. This was more humerous than annoying though and there was still plenty of room to stand and watch the acts, with my view rarely blocked and my enjoyment spoilt by any Tooly McToolhead that was around.

We got through the gates in time to see about half of Ben Kweller's set. I enjoyed his first couple of releases, but never really got into his latest offering. His live show was fairly entertaining, playing songs from all three albums, but he hardly did anything mind blowing.

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After a short intermission it was time for Craig Nicholls and co to impress. And they did. As mentioned, I am a bit of a fan of The Vines, and I didn't seem to be alone, as many of the crowd, tapped along to the familiar songs. Craig was amplicable with the audience, and obviously pleased with the reception. They topped off their well orchestrated set by destroying the set, which is apparently becoming the standard finale for the band which is playing only select shows these days. It was thoroughly entertaining to see the previously troubled frontman throw his guitar around and kick over amps like it was no one's business. As the band left the stage and the house music came on, it was obvious, despite the rock cliche of destroying the set, the band had left a definite impresssionon the crowd, with several conversations around me focusing on the suprising enjoyable nature of the set. Even though they are past the 'new band' status, they still seem to be converting previous doubters, and getting some new fans.

Impressed with the set-up and the ample space to watch the stage, we decided to hang around and watch the Hilltop Hoods perform. I hardly remember their set from the Fall Festival this year. I know I was right near the front, having hitched a ride via the shoulders of several strangers and bourbon and coke confidence. I know it was enjoyable, and I know I busted out some seriously dangerous dance moves. Now I know why. They are, without a doubt, as entertaining a hip-hop group as you will ever see. They continually engage the crowd and, even though, they now have a solid back catalogue of radio hits to rely on, they still fill in the blanks well, and keep the show moving on nicely.

We had no intention of hanging around to see Wolfmother play. The last time I saw them, also at Falls Festival, the only entertaining part of the show was when Tim Rogers joined them on stage. This, combined with the fact we had not been disapointed yet, meant it was a perfect time to exit. I had wanted to maybe hang around and catch Deerhoof and maybe Expatriate, but the planning committee had decided to put them on late, so only really worth while for those planning on spending the night at the grounds.

Hats off for the entertaining festival though, maybe next year they could focus a little more on quality over quantity. I think shortening the event to maybe only two days and getting in some big international drawcards would undoubtably increase the popularity. Not that I am really complaining though, as the lack of crowds and the un-festival like feeling of the set-up was probably the most enjoyable part of the day. Actually, forget I said anything.

Filed Under
News
Ben Kweller
The Great Escape
Hilltop Hoods
The Vines

 

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