Spin Off Festival @ Showgrounds, Adelaide (21/07/2012)

First Impressions

Having so long been ‘the city passed over’ for one-off festivals, when Adelaide was gifted a mini Splendour by way of Spin Off this year no-one was really sure what to expect. Approaching the showgrounds on the morning of the inaugural event, it is clear that this mild confusion is still present among most.

The crowd is thin in these early hours and those that have turned out to see Bad Dreems and Messrs seem as unsure as the bands about what to do in the vast pavilion. The sparse crowd sits, leans and occasionally tries to dance, awkwardly waiting for ‘festival mode’ to kick in. A moment which is finally heralded by the arrival of The Rubens on stage, at which time the rest of Adelaide decides to show up as well.

The Vibe

It soon becomes clear there are a few issues with toilet and food queues, and the limitation of food options only exacerbates this. However, the drinking facilities hold up well, with no more than a 2 minute wait at any given time and no need to purchase drinking tickets before reaching the bar. It’s hard to know how many peruse the vintage stalls on offer outside, but organisers might be able to improve on that area next year to increase the overall experience of the festival.

Aside from this, the silent disco towards the back of the venue inadvertently becomes an exclusive affair, with lines crawling back from the entrance all day. The idea works well though as it negates any noise while allowing festival goers another place to go and have a boogie.

Best of the locals

Having won the opportunity to play on the lineup Bad Dreems are an absolute standout, and anyone who saw them would agree they left nothing in the dressing room. A bunch of catchy hooks and a completely unrefined live performance is what gets these guys over the line whenever they hit the stage. Hopefully a support slot on Children Collide’s upcoming album tour will introduce them to some new fans around the country.

The surprise packet for me was The Rubens. Being the first band to really pull in the crowds, they perform consummately and professionally and most of the younger types lap it up. There is even some shoulder-lifting action for set closer Lay It Down, with lead singer Sam Margin’s vocal full of swoon. Musically their style is nothing new, but their blues-inducing rock is refreshing and dance-able.

A number of hyped Australian acts have a crack at rousing the crowd in the lead up to Lana. Bleeding Knees Club cram as much garage pop into a half-hour set as humanly possible, oiling things up nicely for their brothers in arms DZ Deathrays. The duo’s looping, crashing tunes fast have necks thrashing and me questioning how so much sound can be produced by two individuals.

Meanwhile Brisbane five-piece Last Dinosaurs provide an exciting set, highlighted by songs like I Can’t Help You, new single Andy, and set closer Zoom. With the Bloc Party tick of approval it seems these guys are only set for bigger stages in 2012, and are certainly one to watch at Byron Bay later this week.

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