Beat The Drum @ The Domain, January 16th
It couldn’t possibly be any hotter at The Domain in Sydney, with thousands upon thousands walking the busy streets looking to get even the smallest bit of shade at Triple J’s 40th anniversary concert. With an array of musical styles from The Preatures, Hilltop Hoods and The Cat Empire, and guest appearances from Gotye, Megan Washington and Daniel Johns, it appears that the blistering sun will be the only black spot today.
Arriving just before Ball Park Music are set to kick off the day, I’m lucky enough to get a spot in the bar line, as people wait over an hour just to grab a drink (for some, that definitely outdid the weather). Ball Park Music are no strangers to Australian crowds, gracing the stage once again with an unbelievable live presence. However, it is the first guest appearance by Dave Faulkner of The Hoodoo Gurus that really gets the crowd going, with their hit song Like Wow, Wipeout. 2014’s Hottest 100 winner, Vance Joy (known to most as ‘that guy that sings that Riptide’), plays through quite an enjoyable set. Naturally Riptide is a clear crowd favourite, along with Mess is Mine. However I am going to be so bold and say that Riptide wasn’t the highlight of the set. As Bernard Fanning, along with Tom Lansek from Big Scary and members of Melbourne soul band Saskwatch join Vance Joy on stage they perform an amazing cover of Reckless, an Australian Crawl original, their eclectic voices combine to create an experience that was unmissable.
Gotye steps onto the stage, opening his small 10-15 minute slot with his killer track, Heart’s A Mess. After a roaring applause, Gotye decides to spice it up a bit and perform one more track, opening with the first chords of Thanks For Your Time begin. I admit it was a little disappointing not to hear Somebody That I Used To Know, despite not being a massive fan of it, but Gotye’s stage presence is incredible and a pleasure to watch. After a huge year, The Preatures bring their debut album, Blue Planet Eyes, to life again for Australian audiences, and are showing no signs of holding back the usual onstage theatrics such as cartwheels and acrobatic dance moves. With guest appearances from Cloud Control and Mark McEntee (Divinyls), who performed amazing covers of At First Sight by The Stems and Boys In Town by Divinyls, their set was unstoppable.
Sarah Blakso steps onto the stage next, singing one of her own songs and a very special cover of Distant Sun by Crowded House with Paul Dempsey; as the sun lowers down behind the highrises, it is a beautiful and touching moment. You Am I are the next band up for the event,as Joelistics comes onto the stage to perform his song Say I’m Good, he’s joined quirky Courtney Barnett and soon after, Tim Rogers, to sing Mr. Milk. It seems the crowd quite enjoy You Am I, but what is more exciting at this point is the list of great Australian artists that are set to take the stage with only a couple of hours left for the event.
Standing in a field with 25,000 people listening to one of the most well known grunge songs be turned into an emotional piano ballad is something I will never forget.
When Peter Garrett announces the next very special guest, Daniel Johns, my mind wanders as to what he could possibly be doing – whether it would be a Silverchair song or a cover, and he lays down Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit; a controversial decision. Say what you want to say about the cover, but standing in a field with 25,000 people listening to one of the most well known grunge songs be turned into an emotional piano ballad is something I will never forget. The 4 and a half minute track is extended to over 7 minutes, but keeps everybody wanting more long after Daniel Johns walks off stage.
The band I am most excited for and who absolutely nailed it at Falls Festival over a year ago, The Cat Empire, take to the stage. Bringing on Owl Eyes for an impressive cover of Kylie Minogue’s Confide In Me and playing all of their biggest hits, The Cat Empire bring the party to Beat The Drum and prepare everybody to dance the night away. The star on her way for some incredible things, Tkay Maidza, takes the stage for a 3 song set and she succeeds in getting every human body jumping and waving their hands in the air. The Presets provide a great set , with the mega hits My People and Are You The One proving that this dynamic electronic duo are one of Australia’s gems. Everybody would agree however that the highlight of their set is undoubtedly Megan Washington’s soulful and sexy rendition of This Boy’s in Love, proving once again how spectacular she truly is.
It is finally time for the headliners, Hilltop Hoods, Australia’s biggest hip-hop outfit. If anybody in the crowd was unaware of what a Hilltop Hoods show included, then they were pleasantly surprised; as the crowd set to: jumping, screaming, shedding clothes, and dancing. Providing one of the most talked about collaborations, and certainly the most enjoyable of the night, they were joined by the who’s who of Australian hip-hop; Illy, Drapht, Tkay Maidza, Thundamentals Horrorshow and Seth Sentry for the performance of their (unfortunately named) hit single Cosby Sweater.
Beat The Drum was most definitely a success, celebrating the one radio station that continuously supports not only Australian music, but virtually unknown artists and showcases them to the world. Here’s to another forty years.