Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Harvest Festival Review

I went to Harvest Festival in Sydney over the weekend. It was one of the best festivals I have ever been to (second only to Womadelaide.)

Good points:

The excellent line-up. I had never seen any of the bands on the line up before. It was a 90s music lover's paradise. I had three absolute highlight acts when usually there is only one.
The good natured crowd. For me the one thing that can ruin a great festival is the crowd. At Harvest there were no neon singlets in sight, drunk/drugged people were at a minimum, there was no shoving and there were a limited number of people on other people's shoulders. People really seemed to be there for the music, not to be seen. Great crowd.
Great style. At some stages during the festival my friend and I just sat and watched everyone walking around. As another friend said earlier this week - I've never been somewhere where everyone looked so effortlessly effortless. It was fun to see what different people were wearing.
Good organisation. The timetable was set out really well so that you could catch most of the acts if you wanted to. Beirut cancelled on short notice and you couldn't even tell, everything was seamless and to schedule.
Great stages and setting. The Great Plain was my favourite stage - a massive natural ampitheatre which was never overcrowded. The stages were close together without too much sound crossover. It was also lovely having it in a park with the trees and shrubbery (Monty Python anyone?)
The sideshows. I've never been to a day festival with so many sideshows - it was nice that they put the effort in to put random artists on the side and have so many wandering art installations (eg the dancing robot complete with girls in lab coats and the forest on stilts.)
Free bananas. They had free bananas - yummy, healthy, instant food that you can eat while dancing up a storm at the stage that you made it to since you didn't have to wait in line. Best festival idea ever! They are also great dance accessories.
Lots of free water. I get really dehydrated at festivals but don't want to lug around a massive 2 L bottle so it was nice that they had water stations at all the main stages.
Toilets. We all know that festival toilets generally leave a lot to be desired. However, at Harvest there were only a few messy ones, they were all flush toilets, they never seemed to run out of toilet paper and  you never had to wait in line for more than 2 songs for a toilet. Speaking of which - the toilets were right next to the stages with a great view so you didn't feel like you were missing out anyway!

Not-so-good points:

Crowded trains are fun
The food. It wasn't as multicultural/vegetarian/interesting as I expected. There was one vegetarian booth that was great, but next year it would be awesome if they had more like that.
Post-festival transport. The concert organisers appear to not have notified the police or train systems that the concert was on. They told everyone to take public transport but then didn't get the train system to put on extra trains or open extra ticket machines so there was only one train going every half an hour and a huge line for the ticket booth. It ended up taking me 2.5 hours to get home from Parramatta to Maroubra via train and then taxi when it should have only taken about 1.5 hours with room for delay. However, the crowd was so patient and helpful that it ended up not being too much of a bother.

Who I saw

Sigur Ros
Dexys (Highlight: Come on Eileen)
The Dandy Warhols (Highlight: Bohemian like you)
Mike Patton's Mondo Cane (Highlight: Urlo Negro, but to be honest, any time he was on stage was a highlight, particularly when screaming or loudspeakers were involved. He's the ex-frontman of Faith No More and this endeavour involves him covering various 1960s Italian pop songs with an orchestra. Amazing.)
Cake (Highlight: Never there)
Ben Folds Five (Highlight: Song for the Dumped)
Grizzly Bear (Highlight: Yet Again)
Sigur Ros (Highlight: Sæglópur, but really, anything. At one point they were playing their guitars with bows which was amazing. Much heavier live than on CD but I liked that.)

I recommend

Watching this concert.

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