Stonefest @ University of Canberra, Canberra (30/10/10)


The University of Canberra played host to another installment of Stonefest, offering a chance to relax over the always hideous exam period and get a taste of the epic festival season awaiting us in the coming months. A varied and diverse lineup was greeted with an equally undecided day that fortunately didn’t wash out the event, instead adding to the unique atmosphere that made Stonefest a successful festival that treated those who braved the weather with a fun filled day.

A happy and energetic crowd populated Stonefest, not letting the overcast and temperamental weather get the better of the day. It seemed to be standard festival attire all across the board; Chucks, shorts and a tee.

Those after their indie fix were rewarded with Last Dinosaurs and Boy & Bear early in the day. Both bands managed to draw a decent crowd and get the pit to tentatively take shape. Operator Please and Clare Bowditch & The New Slang played to little reaction, both acts somewhat uneventful and lackluster.

The Silent Party that was almost hidden out back in a little white tent offered those an alternative to the Super Stage during the course of the day. Like something out of a Kubrick film, a seemingly silent mob of headphone donning dancers bounced about in unison as if in low gravity.

Xavier Rudd’s arrival on stage was greeted with warm applause as migration towards the stage began to increase. Unfortunately the mix wasn’t that great, but that didn’t stop an energetic crowd watch a solo Rudd weave his magic on didj, stomp box and guitar across an impressive back catalogue. Singing along to Let Me Be was a heart warming experience, with smiles radiating up towards the barefooted Xavier Rudd.

Stonefest was for the most part, brilliantly planned. It was easy to get access to running water, there was just enough toilets, which were for the most part pretty clean and there were buckets of sand for smokers. A discount on drinks for returned empty cans at the bar made for a fantastic incentive for keeping the place clean, and worked incredibly well. The stage was well positioned and most acts had great sound, and it was pretty easy to get some food (although there weren’t many options for vegetarians), with the lines not too daunting. A general upbeat atmosphere was in the air, the security staff were helpful and weren’t the usual killjoy and everyone seemed to be having a fun – rain, hail or shine.

Apparently the Purple Sneaker DJ’S were playing in between sets, although for all intensive purposes it may well have been a CD being played over the PA. These ‘intermission’ acts could have been an interesting distraction during those always dull moments in-between bands in which one is forced to listen to the dull monotonous sound of a drum being checked over and over and over again and resort to giving each roadie a name and taking bets on who will set up their guitar the fastest. Still, the music that was played in-between acts wasn’t the same old Rammstein song – a la, Soundwave…

Airbourne, who is making serious ripples over in the UK, stormed onto the stage and didn’t let up till they left. Unfortunately front man Joel O’Keefe didn’t decide to climb the scaffolding and almost break his neck as he is often known to do, however he more then made up for it, running about onstage shirtless, slamming out solid riffage on his Explorer. Yes, it sounds eerily like AC/DC. Yes, its 2010. Airbourne might seem dated to some, but their live performance left few questioning the raw energy of their music. If only the circle pit matched their performance.

Rain began to properly descend with nightfall, failing to deter most for the hip-hop stylings of Bliss n Eso. Thankfully by the time Pendulum took to the stage the rain had been courteous enough to vacate. Playing a ridiculously tight set with a superb mix and synergistic lightshow that would’ve looked at home in a packed arena, Pendulum made sure everyone burnt the last little bits of energy they had left. A broad selection that touched across their discography ensured a set that would appeal to all. The now infamous remix of the ABC News theme took things to another level, the crowd responding well. Unfortunately there was no cover of Master of Puppets, but few seemed to care.

Unfortunately the night was marred by the poorly planned public transport. As the battle-worn and rain soaked punters trenched out of the grounds with nothing but a hot shower on their mind, few buses or taxis were around to get people home. Half an hour later a lot of people could be seen stranded at bus stops or simply trying to hitch a ride with those that drove to the event. It’s unfortunate that an event which was otherwise wonderfully planned and orchestrated ended in such a fashion.

Stonefest 2010 was the perfect warm up for the hot months waiting before us and the fantastic festivals just around the corner. If anything, it has proven more then ever that Stonefest is a festival that Canberrans can be proud of and must embrace in the years to come.