Homebake @ The Domain, Sydney (02/12/2006)
Whilst it’s a festival that celebrates the best of Australian music, thankfully it doesn’t
bring with it the worst of Australia’s punters. Of the twenty-odd thousand people attending
the festival there were only a handful of blokes using the Aussie flag like bogan super
heroes; the majority of them under eighteen.
This year’s Homebake was dominated by the weather like none other in the last five
years, with rain effecting many people’s choice of act. The serious down pours throughout
the afternoon caused many punters to evacuate the outdoor stages for the relative warmth
and dry of the covered stages – The Hopetoun and Big Top.
The initial plan for Homebake was to see as many acts as possible, ducking between
stages for half sets to fill out what’s been a big year of live Australian music. The rain
however, foiled those plans. Come half past Midday when the train pulled up at St James,
there was a queue that just about the reached the station. For those hoping to get in there
was nearly an hour’s wait in one line and about five minutes in the second.
Once in, the array of talent was inspiring. British India provided the background
for the beginning of the day, playing a quality set. One of the curious things about the day
was the gaps in the scheduling. At points there was up to twenty minutes without an act on
any of the stages. Whilst this allowed people to get from stage to stage, it also meant there
wasn’t the opportunity to samples tastes of act’s sets.
Little Birdy kicked off their set with Come On Come On from their latest
album Hollywood. The first half of the show was peppered with songs from both their
debut and follow up albums, and showed the band’s prowess on the big stage. The
Midnight Juggernauts, played Homebake fresh from a show in Canberra and are one
of the ‘oh so hot right now’ electro indie acts doing the rounds. Their sound, radio friendly
singles and live performance really show promise. Shadows and Raised by Wolves
really stood out, with the crowd cheering loudly as the opening bars of the former were
Curiosity and the need for a bit of a rest made Toni Collette and the Finish an
obvious choice. It was a great opportunity to chill out before the afternoon and evening. It
was at this point large drops of rain began to sporadically fall. When the storm finally broke
the music was drowned out by the sound of thunder and lightening crashing down. The
down pour sent punters scurrying like ants to get out of the rain; pulling on ponchos and
escaping to the relative dry of the trees and covered stages. It was a tad surreal seeing the
crowds part like a wave.
Close to the end of Toni Collette’s set the decision was taken to seek shelter at the
Hopetoun Stage and to check out Children Collide. Their post rock style really
impressed, along with their boundless energy on stage.
As they rain cleared and sets finished it was time to head over to the Big Top to check
out Gotye. On the way over the last of The Butterfly Effects greeted us,
and it was well worth having a listen to. Sporting freshly shaven noggins all round, the band
sounded tight and well rehearsed from their massive touring schedule this year. They even
managed to drop SOS by The Police in midway through a song.
The Gotye set was interesting as it highlighted how hard it is to get the sound
right for a festival set. After what seemed like an eternity Gotye, VJ and string quartet took
the stage, but whenever the quartet played, it was almost impossible to the hear the
nuances of their instruments over the tremendous noise within the marquee and the
deafening roar of the pouring rain outside. It rained so hard that three leaks in the roof
flowed like taps on full bore.
With the risk of getting wet looming large calm heads decided that seeing The
Vines might be a good idea, so after dealing with the pissed yobs who were hanging out
for some bangin’ dance action during Kid Kenobi’s set, The Vines hit the stage. The
early part of the set, featuring their newer material failed to impress. It was very samey
and screaming lyrics really seems to turn me off. As the set progressed the band seemed to
find their metaphoric feet, and I was duly impressed. Of note particular note was their
rendition of Outkast’s Ms Jackson, which had the entire crowd singing along.
The Vines, due to their “crank it to eleven” nature, were not plagued by the same sound
troubles as Gotye.
It was time to chill a little and check out Augie March. It was yet another fine
set by the Melbourne boys who attracted an older crowd than Eskimo Joe. As always
they were self-deprecating, almost deriding their own professionalism. One song in they
realised that only one set list was on stage, and as they began their third song Glen
Richards realised that his guitar was out of tune, at which point the rest of the band
engaged in a little improvised jamming. The highlights of their set were many, but the
stand out tracks were the ever delightful Thin Captain Crackers and One Crowded
Hour which had the crowd singing out.
It was impossible to resist seeing Silverchair close out the evening. With stage
signs that read “Young Modern,” the title of their forth-coming album, the promise of new
material was tantalising. The new material was really good, verging on the avant guard. If
there was ever an Australian band that could push boundaries like a Radiohead or
Beatles it is Silverchair. Appearing on stage with a three piece brass section and
fifth Beatle, Paul Mac, their songs came to life more than when they performed at
The Great Escape. The brass section added depth and colour to rocky numbers such
as The Door and complimented the new material well.
Rain midway through their set meant a hasty exit to the Big Top to catch Bjorn
Again doing a rendition of Wolfmother’s Joker and the Thief, which I’m
reliably informed was the highlight of their set, beating Bjorn freestyling by slimmest of
margins. With the rain not eventuating it was back to the main stage to catch Silverchair
rocking out with Freak and leaving the crowd spent, yet happy.