The Farmer And The Owl, 23rd Nov ’13 – Review – Across The Ocean

The Farmer And The Owl, 23rd Nov ’13 – Review

The inaugural Farmer And The Owl Festival held over the weekend at the well equipped Wollongong Uni saw a whole bunch of great acts performing to an intimate crowd over 4 different stages.

Carefully scheduled time slots meant there was very little overlapping if you planned your day adequately and by the time I arrived local south coast boys Shining Bird were already on the main stage doing their thing.

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Movember was in full swing throughout the band, and where the hair wasn’t growing a stuck on felt substitute did the trick.

Musically these guys are certainly interesting: with a variety of influences coming to mind. The only concern for me was the ever-so-slight over use of the “cascading waterfall” percussive instrument.

Outside on the alley stage The Treatment smashed the absolute shit out of a short and sweet set.

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Their style, sound and presence was a welcome change to this punters ears, the genius of Rusty Hopkinson (You Am I) on the skins giving their songs a dynamic not unlike a Shellac gig.

Back inside on the main stage Machine Translations were beautiful and inspiring, but somehow they seemed out of place on this line up of acts.

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Perhaps an outside stage on the closed for the festival (?) duck pond lawns would have been a more appropriate setting for their style?

Stage 3 played host to another local act, The Walking Who.

The room was packed full and there was no real stage, just a sectioned off one end of the room with fold back on the floor signifying the stage.

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There was virtually no lighting but the PA was good enough for the size room: all perfect conditions to bliss out to their very Brian Jonestown Massacre-esq sound.

It’s hard to not be intrigued by this band. Their bass player is a complete joy to watch as he wrestles his instrument like a circus side-show. They played a long set, but never slouched into easy territory, their songs were tight, intricate and well written. Looking forward to seeing more from them in the future.

Over on the main stage Dappled Cities were celebrating 10 years with a fun set of quirky pop.

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It’s difficult to know what you are really seeing with Dappled Cities. They have some totally bizarre time signatures and off-kilt lyrics, but somehow they present as a somewhat serious outfit. I’ve always enjoyed the fact they don’t really rely on any formula for songwriting; instead the songs almost live themselves.

Either way, 10 years is nothing to be scoffed at.  As a gesture of thanks they bestowed the Wollongong audience with a virgin new song: “Many Roads” – somewhat fitting title indeed.

A lot has been said about The Laurels and I was super-amped to see what they offer in terms of a live show.

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Unfortunately they assed around, not getting onto the stage until 8 minutes after their allocated starting time. Once on stage they all proceeded to tune, begging the question: why not do it offstage beforehand ?

Tuning took at least another 3 minutes and by the time they reset some mikes for the drums and actually started to play, the damage had been done … professionalism makes the audience receptive – in this case, the slow start and continual fucking about had a negative impact on those who had paid for and expected a more professional performance.

Between every song there was awkwardness on stage, more and more tuning, pedal adjustments, confusion about songs and zero interaction with the audience.

Despite playing well, their sloppy approach soiled what otherwise could have been a better set.

In exactly the opposite fashion, headliners The Drones are a well oiled machine and despite Mike Noga breaking a snare early in the set the show rocked the absolute shit out of Stage 1.

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No doubt one of the best bands in this country, they locked in on stage, delivering a rocking set featuring a good mix of favourites plus some interesting stage talk.

This was the first time The Drones have played Wollongong and judging from the crowd response it will not be the last. A fitting end to the first but hopefully not the last The Farmer And The Owl.

Photos: Benon Julius William Otto Koebsch

John Galt

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Wandering the railroads of life with seldom a roadmap or compass, John Galt comes to Across The Ocean with a reverent dedication to provide unbiased, descriptive and informative reviews of live shows, festivals and launches.

His love for the written word has seen his penmanship grace the pages of many a fine journal throughout his years and we at ATO welcome his scratchings to the fold the way a mother would a new-born child.

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