Day 2 began with wind and rain that saw sunshades lost, marquees collapsed and everyone lying awake in their tents from the early hours.
Despite the early morning interruption, the day was pleasant. After searching for lost items scattered around the campsite, everyone settled in for a few lunch time bevvies. One group played quoits, while others chose some less wholesome drinking games. Even a loud and long argument over a stolen Corona couldn’t bring the mood down.
Similar to Day 1, acts played on just one stage throughout the day. This time it was the Valley stage, situated at the bottom of the hill from the tent (or bottom of the valley, perhaps). The openness made it easier for crowds to see, but placed pressure on the acts to command a much larger space.
West Thebarton and Slowly Slowly both drew surprisingly big crowds for their timeslots. 7-piece West Thebarton brought their characteristic charm, and impressed with tracks from Different Beings Being Different. ‘Moving Out’ was a highlight because it was one of the most well-known by the crowd, but the rest of the set proved why they’ve been so hyped up in 2018. Slowly Slowly, contrary to their name, were anything but slow. After seeing them play to a much smaller crowd at Festival of the Sun a few weeks ago, it was interesting to see them translate their set to a much bigger stage. But they tore through their catalogue with ease, and made the stage feel a lot smaller than it actually was.
Shepparton rapper Briggs was up next, bringing his witty rhymes and harsh truths to the stage. While many of the younger crowd now know him as half of A.B. Original, he also has three solo albums up his sleeve. He owned the stage and had the crowd bopping along, even if they didn’t know all the words. Having seen King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard before, I took their set as an opportunity to go back to camp to have dinner. From all accounts from my campsite neighbours, though, it was a wild set that has become typical of the group.
Swedish sisters First Aid Kid brought us into the evening with their sweet folk tunes. They blended tracks from their latest album Ruins seamlessly with songs the crowd were more familiar with. ‘My Silver Lining’ saw the crowd swaying and singing along. While they were probably the most out of place act on the Day 2 line-up, they put on a great show that made clear why they’re so popular around the world.
Electronic duo Cut Copy are almost considered a throwback act now, but that doesn’t stop them from pulling off a killer set. After a four-year hiatus, they returned in 2017 with Haiku from Zero. While they played some cuts from the new album, they knew what the crowd was after. Vocalist Dan Whitford strolled around the stage as they played their classic ‘Hearts on Fire’, and they ended on a high note with ‘Lights and Music’. While nostalgia might just be the flavour of the moment, Cut Copy are here to stay.
As the cold really started to set in, it was clear that a lot of people were leaving to camp to stay warm before Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals. I’m not sure if they all had some kind of collective vision, but when 88rising took the stage I wished I’d done the same. DJ Don Krez opened the set, and played the playlist of every frat boy’s dreams. Sheck Wes’ ‘Mo Bamba’ rolled into ‘Sicko Mode’, followed by Kanye’s ‘I Love It’. Krez managed to yell “ay” over the top a few times, but otherwise it could’ve just been any boy’s Spotify playlist. Next up was AUGUST 08, who also couldn’t manage much more than a couple of lines over the backing track. ‘Father Issues’ was kind of catchy, but it’s hard to get into a song when the rapper is just intermittently yelling out of tune. Next up was Rich Brian, one of the biggest acts from the 88rising record label. The intermission between him and AUGUST 08 was slightly too long, and more and more people began to leave. Once Brian came on stage it was a slight improvement, as he actually can sing and rap. The highlight was his remix of Diplo’s ‘Bankroll’, but the rest fell a little flat. The worst part was when he and his hype man attempted to make the crowd turn into a huge circle pit, something no one really wanted to do. It’s unfortunate Joji and NIKI couldn’t make the set as initially planned, but I don’t know if they could have saved it anyway.
It was hard to come back from the disappointment of 88rising, and as the rain started up again the wait for Anderson .Paak seemed extraordinarily long. I could only stick it out for two songs, but what I saw was pretty good. Organisers would have done better to put .Paak earlier, as the crowd definitely wasn’t at its full potential for a midnight set. I’m certain ‘Tints’ still would’ve gone off no matter what hour it was played.
Day 2 saw the Australian contingent come into its own, with the earlier acts dominating the stage and bringing in the crowds. It’s unfortunate one of the weaker acts was on a night where there was no one else to go and see at the same time, and that one of the biggest headliners was just too late for most. With Day 3 seeing the introduction of both stages at once, it’s hopefully back on the up from here.
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