Words by Kate Lockyer | Kate Lockyer Music
On a breezy Sunday afternoon at Sirromet Wines, we danced and we sang as we watched some fab musicians and gathered to sip on our favourite grape-based beverage at Queensland’s stop of the Grapevine Gathering festival.
Bella Amor started off the day with her sassy tunes and husky vocals, strutting across the stage in a cool blue dress. While her voice might be smooth and sultry, the band behind her rocked out, crashing drums and funky guitar in the climaxes and simmering, lean-forward-in-your-seat instrumentals in the build-ups. Catchy track Sentimental was a highlight, as she coolly tells her ex, “Let’s not get so sentimental / Just keep me up all night.” Her unreleased song, Rocks in My Pocket, was well received by the gathering already filling the field, a super cute track that will be one to look out for.
Filling the stage with their larger-than-life presence, punk rock duo Teenage Joans served up a feast of songs, quite a few of them food-themed. Candy Apple started with an echoey guitar riff and a searingly honest description of how bad it was to be in a relationship with the person Cahli and Tahlia are singing about. This is a poisoned candy apple, that is so tasty they can’t come back from the sugar rush. 5 Things I Can Taste, about trying to get over someone, playing on the idea of the psychological strategy to ground yourself, has a driving drumbeat that is nailed by Tahlia. After playing Wine, another high-energy song which has the lyrics “I still haven’t ages to like wine / Cause you aged like wine”, Cahli cheekily told us that song was for anyone in the audience who had come to a wine festival… and yet doesn’t like wine.
The Rions played a great set, people beginning to flow down to the mosh and the audience singing along. Take What You Want was a wistful track that had an endearing tremble in the voice of vocalist Noah in the chorus as he sang such vulnerable lyrics. In the coastal tradition of Jack Botts and Kyle Lionheart stylistically, the Sydney band’s new song Minivan was a blast of adventure and optimism for that first bit of independence when you set out by yourself. Eminently sing-along-able, with a fun guitar solo and foot-tapping beat, this has to be a new favourite from the band. Scary Movies is similarly catchy and fun, as is one of their first releases, Sadie, which they joke is about when you send your friend to break up your partner in primary school.
Los Angeles indie pop stars Cannons put on a captivating show with their lo-fi and bewitching music. Grooving with metallic bass, understated percussion, and smooth synth, the band is every bit the image of a modern LA pop ensemble. The crowd was in equal parts ready to get down with some smooth moves and sit back to let the music wash over them. I have to take a moment for their sharp, dark outfits, particularly frontwoman Michelle in a sparkling grey set with flared pants, looking like a meteor spinning across the stage. Their most popular song, Fire for You, is an undeniable earworm, and I defy you not to find yourself humming along when you listen to it. Loving You had a slightly faster beat, and Michelle’s cool vocals glided over the twangy rhythm of the guitar. Latest releases Bad Tattoo and Desire follow their perfected pattern of sensual lyrics and chilled-out instrumental.
King Stingray merch was everywhere at the festival, a testament to how beloved the Indigenous band has become in the last few years. And it is little wonder, as they played a set filled with catchy tunes, gripping instrumentals, heartfelt messages, and a whole lot of energy. Their newest song, Looking Out, is one of my favourites of theirs. They have perfectly blended bronzy guitar and crashing drums with the thrum of the digeridoo and click of clapsticks. It has such an upbeat message and makes you feel connected to the land around you. They nail their harmonies as they sing, “Now we’re looking out into the water / Tell me all the things that are on your mind / And I’ll say everything will be alright”. Sharing the traditional language and instruments of their culture as they forge their own contemporary sound that we are such fans of, it is such a delight to bop along to King Stingray’s music. The groovy guitar and chorus that makes you want to sing along at the top of your lungs made Milkumana another highlight.
Of course, Vanessa Amorosi has a slew of songs we all know and love, bringing back a Y2K nostalgia for Mr Mysterious and Absolutely Everybody. But just because she has been around so long, did not mean she was forgotten by the crowd – in fact, we were all ready to sing along. Her experience and years of performing certainly meant we were treated to a whole lot of show-stopping belted notes with her powerful voice. Shine was an uplifting singalong, as was This is Who I Am.
The Wombats had an eager crowd ready to hear from their catalogue of fan favourites, and we were not disappointed. Let’s Dance to Joy Division is one of these certified bops, frenetic strums on the guitar and hits on the drum as they sing with satisfying sarcasm, “Let’s dance to Joy Division / And celebrate the irony / Everything is going wrong / But we’re so happy.” Another one of my favourites from their set was a gem from 2007, Moving to New York, with a bassy riff and their signature dry humour. Also in the set of city-themed songs was Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves), which has a great, danceable synth line and plucky bass. Greek Tragedy was another of the great hits in their set, as the band put on a great live show.
Aussie indie darlings Spacey Jane got up to their usual hijinks onstage, and I particularly loved their song, Skin. I just love the imagery – “Deep blue / Eyes like water fillin’ up”, or “If you’re looking for redemption / Then it’s breathing underneath your skin” combined with a chronically singable chorus that captures the swirl of emotions that you can feel. Lunchtime and Straightfaced, both angsty tracks, had everyone in their feels and singing along as they would into their hairbrush in their room, or jamming out in the shower. It was also Peppa’s birthday, so the crowd was outpouring their love for the band even more than usual. Kieran’s drum solos are brilliant, and the others bop around on the stage, bouncing off each other’s energy, and cutting dramatic figures as silhouettes through the smoke at one point.
Hayden James finished off Grapevine with a DJ set that had the other bands back onstage to dance along in the background. Coloured lights, smoke plumes, and blasts of fire completed the night in style. From the mosh it was a feast of light and sound, and the bass went straight through you as we danced the rest of the night away.
GRAPEVINE GATHERING 2023
DATES & VENUES
Saturday 7th October – Rochford Estate, VIC
Sunday 8th October – Sirromet Wines, QLD
Saturday 14th October – Sandalford Wines, WA
Saturday 21st October – Hope Estate, NSW
Sunday 22nd October – Serafino Wines, SA
Thanks to Untitled Group