Come Together (Day One) @ Luna Park, Sydney (06/06/09)


The Queen turned 83 this year, giving Sydneysiders their first real long weekend since Easter. The first Saturday of winter brought some unseasonably beautiful weather, and there was no better place to spend it than overlooking Sydney Harbour from the backside of a giant clown’s head. A very tight ship was run this year; from security to set times. Despite this, the festival maintains a chilled vibe, even with the potentially lethal combination of alcohol, fairy floss and spinning carnival rides. With so many festivals peppering the calendar of late, Come Together remains a strong showcase for Australian music across the spectrum.

Even with Cityrail’s best attempts at keeping the populace on the southern shores of Sydney (thanks to some brilliantly timed track-work), the day kicked off for this reviewer with Melbourne’s Oh Mercy. They delivered a tight set of quirky-pop that we’ve grown used to from their current EP, as well as showcasing their forthcoming feature-length debut Privileged Woes.

Pez got the crowd jumping very early on a Saturday afternoon alongside rhyming partner 360. Joined by Hailey Cramer for periodic segues between The Fugees and Arrested Development, the minimal on-stage set-up produced a big sound and an even bigger reaction from the already sugar-fuelled audience. It wasn’t even 3:30pm, and the audience had already Come Together.

This, of course, made the very relaxed country/folk leanings Leader Cheetah an odd choice to follow. However, they did their hometown of Adelaide proud with a set that transcended their recent recorded offerings. Adelaide continued to represent with self-described “monolithic tech-pop” band Fire! Santa Rose Fire! Having played Homebake and Big Day Out in recent times, they were a definite highlight of the day. Despite mixed audience reactions, the band is certainly one to watch this year. With bigger export potential than Haigh’s chocolate and Frog Cakes combined, could Adelaide be the new Perth?

Cloud Control were eagerly anticipated, with the Big Top filling up quickly to hear the Triple J darlings do their thing. They didn’t disappoint in their thirty minutes in the spotlight, with a combination of catchy music and nice haircuts winning over both the crowd and the previous performers. Dropping Death Cloud into the set, the band showed that they are a continually interesting presence on the Australian music scene.

After a quick health-free snack, Astronomy Class brought the hip hop back to the stage. The pedigree of this outfit is strong – with Ozi Batla taking time out from his ‘other’ band The Herd to mark the International Year of Astronomy. Featuring tracks off their new record Pursuit of Happiness, the real winner of the set was its lead single Where You At?.

Despite his initial fears of audience reception, Regurgitator-less Quan warmed things up inside as the sun went down over the Harbour Bridge. With a spectacular audio-visual display, the recently recorded material name-checked everyone from Bryan Ferry to Rocky Balboa. Even with a few technical hiccups, Quan completely owned the Sydney crowd with his hardcore set that barely paused for breath.

With the crowd now nicely warmed, Art Vs Science proceeded to raise the roof on the Big Top. They kicked off the run of bands featuring men hunched over synths that dominated the rest of the night. Posing the question Parlez vous Francais? to the hometown crowd, the response was resoundingly positive. Being so close to the Harbour, it was also reassuring that at least one band knew what to do with Flippers.

Dukes of Windsor continued to keep energy levels high, evidently enthused by the royal mood of the weekend. Keeping the crowd in the palm of their hands, Sydney would have gladly marched into battle to the tune of It’s a War. Infusion kept up the pace, despite an increasingly wandering crowd (one began to wonder if we were creeping past the collective bedtimes of the audience). This culminated in what looked like a mass exodus at the start of the Norwegian electro set from Datarock, the token import band for the day. Their love for Australia was clear, playing favourites and even sticking around for chats and snaps with fans after the set.

A very tardy Midnight Juggernauts finally emerged, taking over the entirety of the previously split stage of the Big Top, which ushered most of the herd back inside. It was difficult to get enthused about another dance act after so many of them in a row, but the Juggers gave a very polished performance. This brought a very big day out to a close, and the promise of more sunshine and rock bands for a lazy Sunday afternoon.