*Title based off the The Wombats 2007 debut album title, A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation.
Lot’s Wife editor Sophia and reporter Jessie take on “Bendigo’s biggest event of the year” – Groovin the Moo. Here is the uncensored tale of their adventure.
We finished our classes for the day, packed our bags and got in my Holden Astra to make the 2-hour trip up to Bendigo. After making a stop at Coles, Liqourland and Kmart on the way (because I had lost the cap to my air mattress and a new one was needed), we arrived at St Peters Primary School at about 8pm.
We bought non-official (but also slightly official) camping tickets for the festival. For $45 each, we joined a few hundred people at the local primary school, a 10-minute walk away from the Showgrounds. As we were a duo made of one seasoned festivalgoer and one festival newbie, I immediately dragged our stuff to the nearest empty patch of grass and insisted we begun setting up the tent. In typical fashion, Jessie deliberated on the matter for about half an hour, only to eventually decide that making the decision was too stressful and that she wanted to go with the spot I had originally picked.
Once everyone at the campsite had set the tents up, the “100% alcohol-free zone” begun to turn into what was essentially a massive piss-up. People set up tables and camping chairs, took out boxes of goon, and started playing the Groovin the Moo playlist on Youtube off some surprisingly powerful portable iPod speakers. This rather decent playlist only lasted about an hour however, until everyone got to that point of drunk where they decided only 2000-era bangers such as Jesse McCartney’s Beautiful Soul would do.
We decided to sleep around 1am, only to realize we had a couple of issues on our hand:
- It was extremely loud
- It was extremely cold
For some reason, the air mattress was feeling like the coldest thing in the world and the thin cotton sheet on it was simply not cutting it. Despite us both wearing warm clothes and using my rather inadequate duvet to cuddle up into a human burrito, it was absolutely bloody freezing.
“If only Bendigo Target didn’t shut at 8pm”, I lamented. “I would literally go buy the best duck down duvet in the store right now”.
I was woken up to the sound of “piss off cunt!!” at about 8am, but smiled as I suddenly realized the sun was up and it wasn’t absolutely fucking freezing anymore.
Feeling less than refreshed, we lay in bed for an hour, gathering the energy to put on some shoes and walk through the mass of bogans sitting outside, drinking beer, and picking up right where they left off last night. Wading our way through the crowd, we got to the carpark and noticed a couple of girls had set up a full size mirror in the boot of a car and were putting on their makeup there. We hopped back in the Astra and went to drive-thru Maccas, brushed our hair, and following the girls’ idea, we put on makeup in the car, using the tiny rear vision mirror. We then went back to our campsite for some pre-drinking; only to notice the same girls were still there going with their makeup, 40 mins later. We drank our vodka-cranberry mix and carefully watched the time so we didn’t miss the 11.20am Alex Lahey set.
We got into the festival fine. To my surprise, there were no drug dogs, police, or people patting down every inch of our bodies and doing thorough bag checks like I thought there would be. I regretted not attempting to smuggle in any alcohol. However, after carefully reading the FAQ’s several times, Jessie had already ensured we had minimum $275 cash to get us through the day, so I suppose we weren’t too stuffed.
The first set we saw was Methyl Ethel. People were freshly pumped up on their vodka-fuelled pre-drinks, and we were excited and happy to get straight into it. We then saw Allday, who is, as I had to explain to Jessie, “ironically lame”.
Scanning the crowd, Jessie was giving a running stream of commentary on the fact the crowd was 95% rich white kids and bogans, and that she was too short to actually see anything.
We then saw Alex Lahey, a personal fave of mine. She played her relatable bangers Ivy League and You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me. We tried to Instagram DM her so we could catch her for an interview, but of course the reception failed us, and we decided it would be a lot more fun if we stopped pressuring ourselves to record everything possible. We still can’t work out what university she’s referring to when she says I went to B Grade University and got myself an Arts degree though. On the one hand, a somewhat reliable source told us it was La Trobe, but there’s also 2013 pic of her on Instagram in Monash robes. I’m confused. Either way, she’s an angel to me and I wish they’d put more of her songs on Spotify.
After waiting an hour to cloak our jackets because the sun was temporarily out, we then spent another half an hour waiting in line for some dumplings and grimacing at the 40-60 minute long line for the toilets.
We then paid $12 each for a Smirnoff double black and watched the Smith St Band from the R 18 area that comprised about half of the whole venue. It was our second time watching the lead-singer and Footscray local Will Wagner play live. And just like when we saw him at the Corner Hotel in Richmond, he got a bit personal with the crowd about his mental health history before playing I Don’t Want to Die Anymore. And, just like last time, my heart swelled a little bit inside and I was reminded of how great Will is, not just as a musician, but also as a person. He also got the entire crowd singing along to Young Drunk and my personal fave, Ducks Fly Together.
We then powered through indie-rock Brisbane band The Jungle Giants, before our feet started
After getting our jackets back from the cloakroom, we sat down to have another overpriced drink and a whole string of nutritional supplements before downing a certain something we managed to score for a bargain $35 from a student flat in Glen Waverley.
As the sun went down, we went back into the crowd for Milky Chance. By this time, it was getting very cold. Stars had now appeared in the sky and, as people got drunker, the crowd begun to get wilder. It was like the crowd had magically tripled in size.
We then saw PNAU and heard some of their 2000-era bangers, followed by a super-8-minute-extended-version of the recent one-hit-wonder Chameleon, only to realize it was too cold to handle anymore.
“There’s actually an indoor area we could go to”, Jessie remarks. “Why didn’t you mention this earlier?”
While jumping up and down trying to handle the weather, I could feel the glitter and hair-gel in my hair turning icy cold. I began to imagine steam evaporating off my head.
“I’m pretty sure I saw a beanie at the merch tent, let’s go buy it, I can’t handle this”, I said. Jessie held my hand and we ran to the merch tent, trying our best to generate some inner warmth. “Sorry, all sold out” the guy said, laughing. I noticed a black cap sitting in the corner. “Can I buy the hat?” I said. While we paid for the $30 hat, we noticed it had Snakehips on the back.
“This is actually a pretty cool hat”, we agreed.
We then ran to the indoor area, also known as The Plot. It had 2 bars, a dance stage, fake grass, couches, and pallets being used as coffee tables. It was real student-house-party style. All the couches were taken, but we asked if we could sit right by some people’s legs to seep the warmth out of them. I could feel my head beginning to warm up under the Snakehips hat, and my hands regaining feeling. Here, in the warm sea of people, couches and empty beer bottles, we sighed in relief.
When two spaces on the couch became available, we sat next to a guy, who we later found out was Cameron from Bendigo. A guy then suddenly approached us while we were mid conversation.
“Hi, excuse me (x3), sorry to interrupt, but are any of you… selling?”
“What do you want mate?” replies Cameron from Bendigo.
The Rest of Saturday Night
We left and went to watch the main headlining act, The Wombats. While it was still freezing cold, we pushed our way into the crowd to absorb as much body heat as we could. The funny, British musical geniuses behind The Wombats, of course, did not disappoint as they gathered the biggest crowd we’d seen at the festival so far.
By this time the festival was nearly finished, and we went back to The Plot to regain some warmth before the only remaining set we still had energy to see, Violent Soho. By this stage, we were freezing and people were starting to head home. We didn’t want to spend any more time out in the cold than needed.
Sitting on a different couch this time, we see security walk in and start inspecting the groups of young people gathered on the floor. Suddenly we see them walking out with Cameron from Bendigo, and we watched while he repeatedly adjusted his clothing as he followed them outside.
We run back outside for Violent Soho, who attracted a crazy, head-banging crowd. They got the crowd moshing pretty hard with their hits Covered in Chrome and Like Soda, songs that reminded me of my angsty first-year-uni self from several years ago.
We ran the small distance back to the campsite, successfully warming ourselves up before returning back to the aforementioned human burrito in our little tent. Still pumped up on adrenaline from Violent Soho, it took a while to eventually get to sleep, but we were definitely certain about the fact we’d had one hell of an awesome day.
After another terrible nights sleep, packing up our tent and three trips back and forth from the car, we finally left the destructed ruins that was now the campsite. After brunch and some strong coffee in Bendigo, we made the journey home back to Melbourne, still in awe of the experience we’d just had.
We decided to give Groovin the Moo our strong recommendation.
After going to Falls Festival together in Lorne for New Years, we discussed how in many ways, Groovin the Moo is better than other, longer music festivals. Groovin the Moo is a good length – it doesn’t come with the exhaustion and significant drop in living standards that a 4 or 5 night festival carries with it. We would definitely be keen to head back next year.
But it depends who you are. If you have the stamina (and supplies) to party for 4-5 days straight, then go for it. But for us, we enjoyed going all out for one day and then heading home, where we could return to our bed and shower.
Ahh, it feels good to be warm again.
- The $12 electric airbed pump
- Alex Lahey
- Will Wagner
- The Snakehips hat
- The Plot
- The cold
- The overpriced drinks
- Excessive hetero-normativity
- The ridiculous line for the toilets
- Did I mention how fucking cold it was?