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Words by Elizabeth Sharpe and Sam Wolstenholme

Forever looking for any way she can to support and provide a platform for local and emerging artists, Shannon-Lee Sloane (AKA The Colourful Writer), has just thrown another Moondoll Festival at Mansfield Tavern on Saturday.  The 5th (and final) instalment of Moondoll promised to bring even more variety and diversity in artists, performances, and stall holders, and it sure did deliver!

Corey’s acknowledgment of country on the Heavy Stage was a touching start to the day and brought everyone in from the stalls and outside to pay their respects.  He followed it up with a fantastic yidaki (didgeridoo) performance to kick off the music for the event.

All eyes were then drawn over to the S C H E M A Collective Stage for The Phosphenes – these kids rock!  All of a sudden, it didn’t feel like noon on a Saturday! The three piece definitely know how to bring the energy with their garage alt rock sound keeping the audience captivated and charging everyone up for the day ahead.

The Phosphenes – Photos by Elizabeth Sharpe {@ummagummamumma}

Alt punk 3 piece, Unentitled burst out with hard-hitting drums, megaphone action, and funky bass. Killing In The Name Of is an ambitious cover to attempt in front of this alternative music-loving crowd, but they made it their own and received a lot of cheers … the drummer particularly nailing the hell out of it!

Solo folk-punk troubadour Brett Bites then appeared on the S C H E M A Collective Stage for a change of pace with his acoustic set. With his mixed-bag set of originals, covers, and self-deprecating humour, Brett Bites is a born entertainer and proved why he deserved to be on the Moondoll stage for yet another year. We were treated to a cover of Sympathy For The Devil, an original called Too Pissed Off For Punk Rock (which hilariously finished short and rather abruptly, with Brett saying he just needed to play it to justify the purchase of the cigar box guitar!) and he finished with one of my favourites, Drop The World, which has one helluva tongue twisting rap-like section.

Brett Bites – Photos by Elizabeth Sharpe {@ummagummamumma}

Gotta love a band that isn’t afraid to bring back the guitar solo! Grunge rockers, Systematic Machine know how to incorporate light and dark into their originals, easing off from the “wall of sound” every now and then to reveal another depth to their music. The guys finished off their set with a fucking great cover of Rage Against The Machine’s Bulls On Parade.

The lighting and sound crew deserve mega appreciation right now – both aspects of the event were dynamic and vibrant – as were the stage managers Jesse and Ctorh of S C H E M A Collective… after a bit of a late start, we were well and truly caught up in no time thanks to them.

Gabrielle Kerr is up next with her introspective dark melancholic acoustic folk tunes.  Gabrielle’s vocal range and tone is well beyond her years and had the audience absolutely captivated. She definitely drew in the biggest crowd of the day thus far. She performs with an immense amount of passion and is well worth checking out.

Gabrielle Kerr – Photos by Elizabeth Sharpe {@ummagummamumma}

Cosmica opened up with a couple of originals followed by their own version of Killing In The Name Of, then back to originals like New Vision and bringing down the pace a bit for Northern Star, which has to be my favourite of the set. Charging on with another bold cover, this time Limp Bizkit’s Rollin’ – this band shy away from nothing and bring every ounce of energy onto the stage with them.

Looking like the offspring of TISM, Motherboy take their places over on the S C H E M A Collective Stage – unapologetically wearing their own band shirts with white balaclavas, which they swear they will probably never do again… The very 90’s garage band sure do have some absolutely hilarious song names too; a perfect example being, You Fell Off The Escalator At The Mall And Died Because You’re A Stupid C**t.

Motherboy – Photos by Elizabeth Sharpe {@ummagummamumma}

Taking things down a notch again, this time over on the Heavy Stage, Malina Claire (Emily Hollitt) was back at Moondoll, bringing with her Gabrielle and Kat on violins.  She took a seat at her keyboard and had the audience in the palm of her hand from the first note.

Introducing Behind Closed Doors, Emily broke through the seriousness of the song’s subject matter by telling the audience that now is the time to “open up the pit”. Emily’s banter, sense of humour, and interaction with the audience between songs is so refreshing and it’s no wonder that the crowd gathered towards the front for the last song of her set.  It’s a true credit to the connection she builds with her audience.

Punk to the core and ready to roar! Not Telling were geared up for an energetic set right from the get-go. It only took a couple of songs and before we knew it, the bassist was out in the crowd and up on a table, flipping the bird at her band mates back over at the stage! It was mayhem and madness throughout their set and certainly fun to witness and be a part of.

Not Telling – Photos by Elizabeth Sharpe {@ummagummamumma}

Black Vatican Death Squad may have twice as many words in their name as they do members, but this dynamic duo spared no effort in delivering a fun and energetic set. It’s skeleton live instrumentation of bass, drums and vocals with guitars presumably on backing tracks, and perhaps contrary to what their band name might suggest, the duo pummeled through a rollicking set of balls-to-the-wall hard rock that ACDC and Motorhead fans would have loved. Between the gritty pub rock vocals, the band’s “fuck the police” attitude and the hilariously bogan stories peppered in between many numbers during the set, Black Vatican Death Squad provided a good old-fashioned Aussie dad rock bash that had me chuckling.

S C H E M A Collective mainstay rockers Violet are back after some time away from the stage, and by all accounts, they’ve returned with remarkably heightened vigour. They attracted a huge crowd gathering at the small S C H E M A floor stage – clearly many people were glad to see the band back in action. The members have natural chemistry with each other and play with effortless energy and confidence. Their brand of 90s-tinged grunge-rock, echoing Garbage, Silverchair and No Doubt had punters bopping along, particularly their cover of Nirvana’s “Come As You Are”, and at one point frontwoman Cat unexpectedly unleashed some terrifying fry screams that added an edge to the sultry sound. A fabulous set from Violet!

Violet – Photos by Alex Wright {@alexwrightmedia}

An Adriatic set is always an immersive and inclusive affair, and their set at Moondoll was no different. The band goes to great lengths to create the impression that we’re all part of one big happy, heavy metal family. They achieved this through frontman Stoyan sharing the mic with the front row during Against All Odds and the addition of several guest vocalists – most notably Diletta from Devonian who emerged on stage like an angel clad in white, but she screamed like a demon for her long-awaited guest appearance for A Lighthouse in the Desert. Reni Bojilov was also back to lend her spine-tingling traditional Bulgarian vocals for a striking contrast to the band’s crushing djentcore chugs. It was an electrifying performance from the boys with the memorable send-off of half the crowd jumping on stage for Krile II.

Till Ya Dead were up next, ready in their caps and mosh shorts for a solid 40 minutes of beatdown hardcore aggression. The timing of their set was great as the crowd of mostly over-30s were starting to feel the call of their warm beds as the night went on. The brash and dirty riffs woke us all up and got a fight pit going – think Pantera meets The Acacia Strain. The rhythm section was relentless and almost exhausting to listen to as the band did not let up for one moment, maintaining a level of furious intensity throughout the set. The bangers flowed hard and fast to ensure the party didn’t end just yet.

Till Ya Dead – Photos by Alex Wright {@alexwrightmedia}

Band proceedings were interrupted for a jaw-dropping pole dance performance from Dolly Deville. Then, in an almost jarring change of pace, Rad Shack were the last band to take the S C H E M A Stage, chilling the vibes right down with their catchy, reggae-infused brand of surf rock. Think Smashmouth with Hilltop Hoods-esque rapping. Suddenly I felt like I was at a pub gig in Byron Bay, circa 2000 – all I needed was some sweet frosted tips. Punters had well and truly loosened up and were moshing away to the gently groovy rock beats. Particular props to Rad Shack’s drummer who powered out a tight, crisp performance on the kit, but all members had a pleasantly relaxed energy about them.

Finally, We The Hollow launched into their punishing grooves for their headlining set on the main stage. Clad in crisp white collared shirts and masks, their pristine, polished presentation was at odds with the filthy 45-minute nu-core throwdown they barrelled through for the night. Each member maintained a formidable presence, but none more so than their frontman, who dominated the stage. Guitars and bass duelled with each other through impressive tandem shreds. They stirred up a primal rage in the room, delivering just enough ferocity to send us through to the end of the night feeling like we’re all moshed out.

We The Hollow – Photos by Alex Wright {@alexwrightmedia}

Thanks to The Colourful Writer

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