Happy times at Harvest festival 2011 (Melbourne)

by - November 18, 2011

Harvest Festival’s The Gathering was a perfect end to my five years as a Melbourne resident. It was the first event in the festival’s debut East Coast tour so no one really knew what to expect. All I knew is that TV On The Radio (favourite band on the planet) and The Flaming Lips (one of my favourite live bands ever) were playing so when Misty (one of my favourite humans in the universe) told me to come to Harvest before I left, I yelled ‘OK!’ at the computer (she said it in an email) and bought a ticket. 

Through friends of friends who are now real (as in Facebook) friends we ended up traveling to the festival on a double decker party bus. Everyone kept calling it the ‘party bus’ and I assumed it was because we’re fun party people but I was wrong. The bus was decked out with karaoke machines and TV screens, disco lights and smoke machine. At 10.30am in the morning, we were probably the dumbest and most interesting thing half the farmers out Werribee way had seen all year.

As we rolled by fields and tractors and random double story houses, the bus was filled with the smell of manure one passenger said it best when she wrinkled up her nose and asked, “Where the f*ck is Werribee?” The Melbourne leg of Harvest was held at Werribee Park Mansion, about an hour South-West out of town. I’d never been there but I knew Elton John once played there so it has instant music cred in my books.

pic of Werribee Mansion 

Harvest’s The Gathering ended up being one of the nicest one-day festivals I’ve been to in years. The lineup was a good mix of chill out and rock out bands spread across three stages so while there’s been a lot of online complaints about the queues for drink coupons, drinks and toilets it didn’t have too great an effect on my day because I was happy to stand in a queue while the chill out acts were on.

Festival highlights in chronological order are: The Bedroom Philosopher – his hipster remix of Northcote (So Hung Over) based on his YouTube video comments is yet another reason to love the Internet and his spoof of The Flaming Lips ‘Do You Realise?’ had me laughing so hard and checking my fly was done up.

The Walkmen was my first experience of the massive drink lines – by the time my friends got back with booze they’d missed most of the band’s set and it was time to regroup with the troops at The Great Lawn stage for TV On The Radio.

TV On The Radio - Will Do video

It’s a shame TV On The Radio were on at the early time of 4pm because it meant I would peak too soon but I love them so much I’d already resigned to my impending heat stroke and lightheadedness from dancing too hard in the afternoon sun. Thankfully I was mistaken. A lot of people were taking it easy so I managed to get right to the front and under the few meters of shade created by the stage – yippee! They played most of my favourite songs – Will Do, Wolf Like Me, Staring At The Sun… oh love! I still cannot believe some of my friends didn’t know TVotR are African-American. How can they - being Caucasians that make winding their waists to Beyonce look like a strange, new robot dance - seriously expect TVotR’s soulful voices and rhythms to come from stiff whities like themselves? Sheesh.

Bright Eyes was a sit down affair for me after the workout I’d had with TVotR. I was tempted to get a slurpy but everyone had the same idea so the queue went for more miles than I was willing to wait out. Instead I opted to watch the alluring Conor Oberst from the safety of a big shady tree.

UK's Death In Vegas were next on my must-see list. It’s awesome when a band you haven’t seen live before and you don’t know much of their discography still manages to blow you away. Their electro pulsed rock had me dancing nonstop from start to finish and their music is on my ever growing to-buy list when I find my future job.

The National was the soundtrack to my turn in the booze queue. It’s the good thing about going with a group of friends, I got to see The Walkmen while my buds got to see The National. I was literally in line for their entire set and walked out with beers in hand just in time to see them walk off stage. In my hyped up state I wasn’t in the mood for melancholic rock or the broodiness of Portishead. I know, I know – I should be digging their amazing powers of minimalism but you don’t understand. This was my last night in Melbourne and I want to jump and dance and partay. Portishead is a band you watch in silent awe and smiling seems somehow highly inappropriate.

pic by Elaine Reyes

Fortunately my friends all wanted to party too so we left Portishead early to secure a decent spot for The Flaming Lips at The Windmill Stage. I’d seen The Flaming Lips once before at Festival Hall and it left me with sore cheeks from excessive smiling. This is what I was in the mood for. Lots of lights and confetti and streamers and giant balloons and happy faces and dancing and arms waving in the air and sweet simple songs that make you want to hug everyone. The Flaming Lips make people so happy! It’s how I want to remember my friends and life in Melbourne. Happy people doing happy things and being happy. It made flying out the next day hurt a lot less.

Thanks Harvest Festival for such an awesome day. Can we do it all again next year? Love!

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