Woodfordia Dec. 27-31, Jan 1
Stepping through Woodfordâ€™s golden gates, after a quick once-over from one of two security guards on duty, I am immediately transported to another world. A world where stilt walkers freely roam, chai and body odour waft through the air and hemp products are readily available on every corner. Melbourne band Husky kicks off musical proceedings on Wednesday afternoon at The Grande, where the seated audience is treated to superb renditions of â€˜Hunterâ€™ and â€˜Fake Moustacheâ€™. Fellow Melburnian Jordie Lane is a ramblinâ€™ man of sorts, but he looks right at home on Woodfordâ€™s Bazaar stage; his set is just as dependent on magical musical interludes as it is on Laneâ€™s sharp wit and unbridled banter.
Gotye makes a one-off Woodford appearance at the Amphitheatre. Wally De Backer is joined on stage by a nine-piece band with all the bells, whistles, horns, loops and male backing vocal you could ever hope for. The set includes â€˜Eyes Wide Openâ€™, â€˜The Only Wayâ€™ and â€˜I Feel Betterâ€™, along with a back-to-back heartbreak medley of â€˜Somebody That I Used To Knowâ€™ and â€˜Heartâ€™s A Messâ€™.
Making the first of three scheduled Woodford performances, Busby Marou takes to the AlterNATIVE stage for a late night set. The duoâ€™s understated acoustics are beautifully complemented byâ€‚full band backing, breathing new life into â€˜Banjoâ€™ and â€˜Save Some For The Othersâ€™.
By: Jodie Grinsted
Woodford is more than a folk festival, it has become an internationally recognised icon of world music and arts, while at home it continues to be a vital incubator for Australian performing and visual arts â€“ nurturing generations of musicians, carnies, dancers, poets, comedians, actors and philosophers for over 25 years. This yearâ€™s inclusion of the Dreaming Festival added a deeper cultural aspect with the addition of the Blak Dramatics Stage, where Iâ€™m fortunate to grab a seat for the one-man show Chasing the Lollyman.
Seeing life through the lens of a gay Murri man growing up in the dusty redneck town of Mareeba is a rare insight indeed. Actor and playwright Mark Sheppard kept the audience laughing and enthralled to the end, his character morphing through several personas, clever prop changes to win a standing ovation at the end. Itâ€™s then time to boogie; Japanâ€™s Mount Mocha Kilaminjaro at the Amphitheatre are my musical highlight this year â€“ their quality and stage-craft are up there with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. For a band with no vocalist, they have to pull out all the moves to keep the show electric, which they do with aplomb. Their tightness and super heavy sound create some morbidly obese grooves that smother the crowd in wave after wave of fat, funky goodness. Thanks Woodford!
By: Rudi Quinzalez
Simply walking around during the day presents myriad shows via the many open tent flaps as youâ€™re occasionally accosted by a troop of greenhorned gremlins speaking gibberish, linking arms with and even trying to marry festival goers. Representing German indie, the dysfunctional sibling duo of Die Roten Punkte put on a flawless comedic music set. The brother and sister band argued, threw tantrums and debated whether or not their parents were eaten by lions as they sang about bananas and robots with surprisingly catchy tunes.
Kira Puru & The Bruise on the Thursday night sucked the audience in with their sensual rhythm and the sheer volume and power of Kiraâ€™s voice. The dancefloor held a collection of people moving as if mesmerised by the jazz atmosphere, culminating towards the end of the show when Sideshow Wonderlandâ€™s cast turned the heat up as the contortionist and swordwalker crawled all over each other on stage while a sword swallowing space cowboy led the cheer. What could have followed this other than a burlesque collection including Rita Fontaine, Lola the Vamp, Flavella Lâ€™Amour and a whole lot of feathers yet not much clothing!
Bringing things back to harsh reality and the Dreaming theme of this yearâ€™s festival, Noel Toveyâ€™s Little Black Bastard saw one of Australiaâ€™s most distinguished theatre practitioners recount the horrors of growing up amid poverty, alcoholic parents, sexual abuse and living on the streets.
By: Nath Martyn