This year’s Sugar Mountain Festival was held at the illustrious Victorian College of the Arts, hidden in the prestigious higher education institution as a summit for music and art. Drawing a crowd that can only be described as characteristically Melbourn’, the sea of black clothing to the enviable cutting edge haircuts left no look unworn. As for the musicians, there was a tasty mix of high profile acts; tossed amongst rising locals that left many a festival-goers wanting more.
Everyone’s favourite Melbourne rock-dog Courtney Barnett was a highlight of the day, gracing the stage with her predictable relaxed nature and wooing the fans with a mischievous look that goes hand in hand with the witty repartee strung throughout her lyrics. She played a number of smash hits including ‘Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party’; a humbling reminder that we are all just grains of sand, frolicking on a beach of far more popular and well sought after people than ourselves. Another memorable lullaby serenaded to the crowd was the renowned ‘Depreston’, shedding light on the harsh objective truth that a residential address in Preston is likely to go hand in hand with a sudden yet obvious shift in serotonin levels. Ultimately, Barnett was one of the most entertaining acts of the day, tinted with that teen-angst attitude no one can pretend they can’t relate too even in retrospect.
Another ravishing performance was by Alpine, the Melbourne-based six-piece who have made a name for themselves by releasing catchy indie-pop tunes and putting on finely tuned performances since 2009. Phoebe Baker and Lou James, both on vocals, were the standouts during the set; moving their bodies in geometric shapes to the music and gaining a growing crowd of admiring onlookers. Playing hit songs like ‘Hands’ and ‘Damn Baby’ with a ferocious amount of energy that makes you wonder how they sustain that kind of intensity to a large crowd of drunk festival goers who are yelling for the sake of it at all times.
Easily mistaken for a rag tag bunch of well-to-do Versace country club attendees, the rising fame of these localised celebrities is known by music lovers in the know as one of last year’s favourite acts. The five boys from Melbourne represent disco in its full rags-to-riches glory as they appear on the stage in a cloud of electronic smoke. Previously described as ‘Eurochic’, they genuinely were one of the rarest flavours of the day, moving around the stage in hybridised designers get ups and fist pumping their way through some truly groovy bangers including the latest wonder ‘Paradise’, leaving everyone feeling as though there has never actually been any trouble in paradise, but rather a long series of synth sounds and bass lines that take the weight off life’s heavier moments.
Hot Chip was the final act of the day, attracting the kind of fanfare one would expect from such a celebrated electronic act that has been making waves and simultaneously surfing them home since 2000. The five boys from Britain were welcomed to the stage by screams of joy from inebriated fans, sculling their final beer, a hard day of partying behind them. The sky was dark as the lights fell upon them, and it was obvious that every person in the room were anticipating the bring-it-home vibe that can only accompany a headline act; the pressure was on. Luckily, the pressure paid off and they delivered a truly mesmerising set, playing some songs off their latest album released in 2015, Why Make Sense? . To everyone’s gleeful delight, they also played the international smash hit ‘Ready For The Floor’, which every person and their dog and their dog walker has heard on repeat at every good party and awkward dinner gathering since its release in 2008. However, they truly placed the finishing touches on a well-rounded day with the heartfelt finale ‘Dancing in the Dark’, leaving everyone doing exactly that.
On reflection, Sugar Mountain was a wonderful day full of talented local acts and artists who have perfect their craft, regardless of medium. Until next year, Sugar Mountain!