08 Apr The inaugural Shady Cottage festival was an impressive debut
Rolling into Woodend with a fangin’ headache, little to no sense of direction and an overwhelming sense of lethargy, I must admit I was starting to question my motives. I’d missed the first night of Shady Cottage due to work commitments, but due to its dense lineup and beautiful surrounds I chose to hitch a ride and join in on the party a day late.
The setting was well deserving of the accolades; sweeping fields littered with the occasional sheep or cow. Sitting at around 300 heads, the attendees had space to move, not confined to cramped restrictions or specific segments of the property. I found my tent, dropped everything and cracked a tinnie, en route to catch the last of Alice Ivy.
At the stage I was made aware of the festival’s first true teething problem. By the close of Andras and Oscar the night before, a set of speakers had called it early, leaving the organisers in a precarious position. Luckily one of the soundies took it upon himself to make the trip back to Melbourne, grab a couple of replacements, and bring them back. This level of practicality and decisiveness rang true throughout the festival, illuminating the clear potential for it to continue to grow in stature.
Alice Ivy is deserving of the focus she is currently receiving, with each release being undoubtedly stronger than the one before. ‘Touch’ is a gorgeous representation of the talent she possesses, with a sample-heavy intro that recalls stylistic similarities to The Avalanches, with a natural dancefloor crossover potential.
Crepes have just been that band for me for so long. That one you listen to all the time, and yet for whatever reason, are seemingly incapable of catching them live. Thankfully that all changed at Shady, as I was able to laze in the sun while they worked their way through their simply affable debut. ‘Cold Summers’ was a festival highlight, while the onstage charisma shone through brightly, with a faux-theatrical nature not too dissimilar to Foxygen.
Although initially hampered by sound issues, Melbourne five-piece Leisure Suite powered through a set that perhaps commanded a later slot than they were given. Steadily growing in both stature and numbers, 2015 was a big year for the band, frequently touring with standout sets at both Shebeen and Paradise. A medley of their own work with Alicia Keys had the crowd swaying, while ‘Great Expectations’ is one of those truly brilliant tracks that messes with your mind, leaving you unsure of whether it’s joyous or drenched in melancholy.
As the sun began to set, Flamingo Jones took to the stage at just the right moment. The weather had come good after a frosty morning, and the clear blue and orange skies were the ideal backdrop for some accomplished tropical jams. Nick Bond and crew have carved out a delightful niche for themselves, delivering infectious jams with just the right combination of vibrancy and polish.
Well replenished after a trip to the campsite, we returned to a stage boasting its biggest crowd of the weekend thus far. The sun had mostly set during the intervening performance by Albert Salt, and the punters were ready to cut loose a little, with DIET. proving a great option. The five-piece (consisting of the Flamingo Jones backing band with an alternate singer) were an enjoyable watch, the highlight of their set coming with a perfectly-timed rendition of the Australian Crawl classic ‘Errol’, which brought the crowd together for an impressively cohesive singalong.
Broadway Sounds were a band fit for the occasion. Specialising in absurdist banter and frantic party heat, they truly brought a sense of debauchery upon the wintery Shady Cottage scenes. Helping caress the day into night, their performance prompted one artist who had performed prior to label them the “best in Melbourne”. ‘Booby Trap’ and ‘Sing It Again’ are scorchers, while their onstage energy is simply unsurpassable. They made the transition from live performers to selectors feel seamless, which is a credit to both their songwriting and live presence.
CC: Disco! seemed to throw away the disco cape for the night, bringing a set that progressed from bouncing house beats through to some grittier techno. Undoubtedly considered one of Melbourne’s most brilliant selectors, CC confirmed that assertion with two hours that managed to illustrate her diverse taste without losing and rhythm or flow – possibly the set of the festival.
Few producers in Melbourne have released music with the consistency of Ara Koufax duo Luke Neher and Sam Gill. Since departing from the Naysayer & Gilsun guise, Neher and Gill have been dropping some sensationally lush house, which, in the case of the Adult Concepts, dips into the realm of The Field. Pulsing and textural, the pair are clearly onto something with this pathway. Giving us an idea of their tastebuds, they went track for track, keeping with the style of their personal releases. Tom Trago’s Crazy Days remix of ‘Tutti Frutti’ was almost used as a signal, and for the final half hour the pair continued to rise in intensity, with the crescendo coming in the form of their closing track ‘Brenda’, one of the duo’s earliest releases.
And with that I trooped off to bed. The cold got the better of me, and my overcoat of alcohol was wearing thin. I dozed off to the sound of The Neighbourhood Watch, and the gleeful laughter of those who were making up for their complete lack of inhibition with a visibly overruling sense of genuine pleasure. If this is taken as a microcosm of the festival itself, then I’d say for it’s first run, Shady Cottage did pretty darn well.
Note: Due to the criss-crossing nature of our music scene, the writer of this article has a personal or professional relationship with one or more of the people involved in this festival and its lineup. This in no way influenced our coverage of the event, and a secondary writer was brought on to provide a secondary point of view.