It was like a throwback to the hey days of the Big Day when 90s alternate favourites The Fauves, The Lemonheads, Veruca Salt, Spiderbait and The Living End blasted the A Day on the Green audience recently at Bimbadgen Estate.
Even though some of the crowd would have been too young to remember the sense of comradery and frivolity that punters of the time fondly remember as hallmarks of the festival scene in the 1990s, the Bimbadgen crowd were as one, letting their inner freak shine at this fun day out.
The Fauves radiated swagger as event openers, and jangled and joked their way through a set of old and recently new numbers, to win over the A Day on the Green crowd. Known as being the perennial support act in the 90s, front man Andrew ‘Coxy’ Cox charmed the audience with his banter, quirky humour and thrusting dance moves. I’ll admit I’ve always loved seeing this unique Aussie four-piece live, and I wasn’t the only one, with some committed fans bopping and jigging to their full set.
It was great to hear The Fauves play Triple J hits from their early days, including singles Don’t Get Death Threats Anymore, and to hear the crowd sing along to Dogs are the Best People triggered some lovely memories.
I was really looking forward to seeing Evan Dando and The Lemonheads again, after seeing them a few times at festivals back when Docs and flannelette shirts were my grungy uniform. This time around, Evan and the gents seemed ill-prepared, and lived up to their reputation of being the kings of Slacker Rock, not because of the laid-back melodies, but because they came across as unrehearsed. That said, it was a nice trip down memory lane and hearing again the sweet Into Your Arms and 90s hit If I Could Talk I’d Tell You, was great. Hope they pull together a better performance as this A Day on the Green line-up makes its way around the country.
Nina Gordon and Louise Post from grunge hit makers Veruca Salt, were the archetype of femme-rock empowerment in the 1990s. I wanted to be like them – if only I knew how to slay on the guitar, and write lyrics that cut to the core of the female condition. Alas, I never learned to play the guitar. So, seeing these grunge goddesses at A Day on the Green, joined by original band members Jim Shapiro on drums and Steve Lack on bass, was a dreamed fulfilled. Their debut album American Thighs was the soundtrack to my coming-of-age, so when they played numbers from that album I was obliged to jump and thrash like a teenager, in the Bimbadgen mosh pit.
Hearing All Hail Me, Get Back and Spiderman ’79 from that album gave me chills, and I and some other punters welled with tears, and shared embraces. Hits from follow up album Eight Arms to Hold You, including Shutterbug and the anthemic Volcano Girls, were included in the set. But when they played mega hit Seether, not as the finale, but their penultimate song, the whole crowd of thousands went a little crazy. It was a moment that was worth the wait.
Spiderbait are festival favourites from way back and know how to get the best out of a crowd, even luring young punters and the few children in the audience to jump and bound to their high-energy set. Front man Karm never disappoints and the mateship enjoyed by he and bass player Janet English and guitarist Damien Whitty, was evident as they encouraged us all to join their party, with a ‘come on’ and a ‘hell yeah’.
Long-term fans were treated to hits from the bands infancy, including a snare-busting performance by Kram during Sam Gribbles, and Janet showing she’s still one of Australia’s most dynamic rock chicks, getting a roar from the crowd each time she sang. Out of My Head and a cover of 1980’s pop hit, 99 Balloons Aloft – sang in German – were highlights.
A Spiderbait set wouldn’t be complete without a fan sing-along to Calypso, and a pogo dance to mega hits Buy Me a Pony and Black Betty. Spiderbait didn’t disappoint, and when they concluded their set with Black Betty the crowd was whipped up to a mild frenzy.
What a hard act to follow. But The Living End’s Chris Cheney, Andy Strachan and Scott Owen were unperturbed, taking over the A Day on the Green Stage with passion and their memorable musicianship and stagecraft, ripping from one hit to the next to the delight of their legion of fans who flocked to the front of the stage and squashed against the boundary fencing, to get the best view.
The light show was spectacular and the crowd welcomed hearing tracks from The Living End’s forthcoming album, as well as old favourites including Second Solution, Whose Gonna Save Us, White Noise, All Torn Down, before a finale of the anthemic Prisoner of Society. It was the perfect conclusion to a memorable day of rock ‘n roll and a great reminder of how music can speak to and empower us all.
PHOTO GALLERY THANKS TO SMART ARTIST PROMOTIONS