With the joys of multi-staged festivals also comes the tough choices of having to decide which bands to see, and coming up with a game plan for how to do it. With Harvest Fetsival having now officially released the timetables for Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, we thought we’d offer a little help. With so many great acts (and more than a few clashes) we’ve put together two options to give you the best possible plan to ensure that you can make the most of the excellent, varied line up. Both plans make sure that you’re able to catch smaller, local acts like The Murlocs and Tigertown while also ensuring you can indulge in the international headliners like Grizzly Bear, Beck and Sigur Ros.
11.30pm-12pm River City Extension
Start the day off with a feast for your ears. You’ll find River City Extension living it up on The Windmill Stage. With a mix of eclectic instruments (cello, trumpet, mandolin, and banjo – to name a few) this eight-person musical outfit, hailing from New Jersey, is sure to lift your spirits and get your day off to an excellent start.
Settle in. Take half an hour to look around and take in some of the Arts showcases before heading to the Main Stage for a lunchtime dose of indie pop. The UK seven-piece have grown up since their debut in 2008, these days taking on a darker guise. They will sing you songs of love, loss and heartbreak in a way that will surely be a mix of light and shade.
No rest for the wicked. Take a breather for 10 minutes and then make your way to The Big Red Tractor Stage (it really will be as fun as it sounds) where UK’s Dark Horses will take you on a sonic journey through spectacle, romance and mystery; led by the smoldering vocals (and harmonica) of frontlady Lisa Elle.
Take a break after Dark Horses and maybe grab some afternoon fuel before navigating back to The Windmill Stage where you will find alt-rockers Silversun Pickups doing their thing. Treat your ears to the vocal dynamics of Brian Aubert and the sounds of distortion-heavy rock, as they play a set cherry-picking from their three excellent studio albums.
As the day draws to evening prepare to get psychedelic at The Big Red Tractor Stage with the rugged rock stylings of The Black Angels. The Texan quartet will dish out an hour of their self-proclaimed “Native American Drone ‘N’ Roll”. Their mantra? Turn On, Tune In, Drone Out. Easily achieved.
Don’t let the setting sun fool you; this day is nowhere near over. Take a trip back to your youth with a visit to The Windmill Stage. After fifteen years between albums, Ben Folds Five have returned with The Sound of the Life and the Mind . This set will be laced with anticipation, so get set for a nostalgic ride – and hopefully a few sing-alongs to Folds Five standards like ‘Army’ and ‘One Angry Dwarf’. It’ll make up for missing Cake earlier in the day.
Hold your position! Grizzly Bear will grace The Windmill Stage next, delivering their indie-rock goodness to their adoring fans. If for some ghastly reason you can’t make it to The Windmill Stage in time (or you’re jamming out to Fuck Buttons), the Brooklyn-based four-piece will also play two Harvest sideshows in Melbourne & Sydney.
Ladies and gentleman, you’ve made it. Gather up the last of your energy and ensure you haven’t lost a shoe. It’s time to dance, and Santigold will lead the way. The American maverick’s unique blend of reggae, jazz, RnB, and pop influenced beats will have you entertained until the very end of your exhausting Harvest experience.
11.30pm - 12pm Triple J Unearthed Act
No matter which state you’re beginning your Harvest experience, be sure to check out the unique local act that’s been placed on the lineup by Triple J Unearthed’s competition. Werribee Park punters will be treated to The Murlocs’ neo-garage fuzz on the Saturday, while Sunday-goers should let Lurch & Chief’s monstrous grooves and 60’s vintage sensibilities warm you up. Sydney’s Parramatta Park will kick off to the widescreen folk-rock of Tigertown, while Brisbane Botanical Gardens will delight to the sounds of The Trouble With Templeton; and Thomas Calder’s gothic-laced narratives. If you’re the type who loves to know about the next big thing before it arrives, be sure to begin with any of these handpicked acts.
By 12.30, with any luck the sun will be at full force, and what better way to embrace the shine than with Philadelphia’s War On Drugs. The washed out guitar tone that blends shoe-gaze tones and folk song writing is the perfect musical marriage to celebrate the diversity at this year’s Harvest. A band that uses forward thinking production to transcend the typical indie/folk traps, they will present a unique spin on a familiar genre.
An ideal band to ring in the coming of Spring, the Dandy Warhols promise to have the crowd grooving and shaking to their outrageously catchy alternative rock. Practice your falsetto ‘woo-oohs’, ‘ah-ahs’ and ‘whoa-ohs’ for these guys (and particularly ‘Bohemian Like You’), so you can join in for what promises to be an absolute riot of a set.
Miles away from Faith No More, the band that solidified his fame, Mike Patton will be an act to check out - if not for his reputation as one of music’s eclectic frontmen, then simply out of interest for his most recent project, Mondo Cane. Backed by a 12-piece string section, choir and band, Patton will take the crowd through a rousing set of 1950s and 60s Italian pop classics. Perhaps the most left-field of an already diverse line-up, Patton will be sure to confuse some punters as he entertains others with his newest easy-listening project.
After a lightning break to recharge the batteries with whatever sloppily prepared festival grub takes your fancy, your next stop should most definitely be at the groove-laden dance pit that will be Cake. Be careful not to spill your guts to the genre-hopping five piece. The deadpan delivery and sarcastic lyrics of John McRea will also be perfect primer for one particular headliner later in the evening…
The disco revival is alive with the Chromatics, whose spacy synth-pop and four to the floor beats will encourage a slow dance atmosphere to welcome the evening twilight. Allow the synths to wash over you as you relax after what has already been a long day, and as you prepare for what’s to come.
Stoner-pop one hit wonder, folk rap madman, melancholic introvert and audacious experimental pop frontiersman; these are just a few of the labels Beck has fallen under in his (almost) 20 years in the industry. However if there’s one thing Beck has taught us to expect, it’s to not expect anything at all. Whatever persona he brings to Harvest this year, you can be sure that his musicianship, offbeat sense of humour and penchant for a wonderfully sweet pop melody will leave you invigorated
Thankfully, Harvest festival organisers understand the importance of atmosphere. A band like Sigur Ros is a full body experience, and a set by them midway through the day just couldn’t have the same impact and amplitude as allowing them to close the day’s proceedings against the inky backdrop of night. With their dreamlike soundscape come promises of an ambient and surreal aura, and a memorable set, perfect to space out and finish off the day.