The A Day on the Green concert series has boasted some spectacular lineups since its inception in 2001 – from collections of 90s Australian Triple J darlings, to spectacular 80s reunions. But upon first glance of this season’s bill, I couldn’t help but feel that one of the acts was the odd one out. There was the rocking Adalita, heralded up-and-comer Tash Sultana, and Sydney indie-pop darlings The Preatures – three acts boasting some of Australia’s best front women – supporting a double headline of female-fronted 90s rock heavyweights Garbage… and The Temper Trap.
With the usual seated area replaced by a premium GA section, for the most part of the day punters were strewn across picnic blankets mere metres from the stage. A fence separated the “haves” from the “have-nots” – the latter stationed on the soft grass surrounding the gravelly premium area.
Adalita was up first, belting out an assortment of solo tunes – both old and new. She’s currently hard at work recording a new album, and if the tracks previewed in this set were anything to go by, it’s going to be good. Magic Dirt fans in the crowd were excited to hear “Ice”, which she dedicated to Violent Soho after their success at the recent ARIA awards.
In the early afternoon the cloudy sky taunted the crowds with the possibility of showers, but as the day went on the sun crept through, leaving people comfortably warm, but uncomfortably sunburnt. With beer cans and carafes of fruity sangria in hand, we welcomed musician-of-the-moment Tash Sultana to the stage.
Like a funky, frenetic Liam Finn, she used loop pedals to build each song from the ground up – singing, playing guitar and beatboxing to produce a sound much bigger than the small square of stage she inhabited. With each song you could see the music escape each limb of her body. At one point she was playing panpipes and dancing around like Tiger Lily or one of the Lost Boys. It was mesmerising.
Pulling out a scarily faithful rendition of the Divinyls’ “Boys in Town”, Isabella Manfredi showed no shame in listing her idols: Chrissy Amphlett (of course), Chrissie Hynde, and the one and only Shirley Manson – who was only a couple of hours away. The Preatures were clearly delighted at the opportunity to be included on this bill, lighting up the stage with a selection of tracks from Blue Planet Eyes, as well as recent single “I Know a Girl”. They closed with “Is This How You Feel?” and I’m pretty sure most people in the crowd felt the same way that I did; like dancing.
By the time The Temper Trap hit the stage, the front section had properly begun to amp up. Picnic blankets were rolled up, and a relaxed mosh pit formed. The happy crowd, soaked in sun and booze, were ready to get on their feet. Although their inclusion in the lineup may have initially appeared out of place, the amount of pure love and happiness thrown around during every single one of The Temper Trap’s songs proved that they were exactly where they were meant to be. From “Love Lost” to “Drum Song”, the crowd was captivated. Their set culminated in a spirited shout-along of the group’s biggest hit, “Sweet Disposition”.
“My only comfort is the night gone black,” state the lyrics of “Only Happy When It Rains”, so it was fitting that the sun descended during Garbage’s headline set. The last stragglers of the restless crowd were seated no more, aggressively pushing forward as the band hit the stage for “Supervixen”.
The fenced off audience sections were giving Shirley Manson a bit of a “Trump feeling” (not a good thing). This prompted a short monologue on the importance of listening to yourself, not the government, and treating others the way you’d like to be treated. The occasional pep-talk is not uncommon at a Garbage show – especially here in Australia. The band hold a special place in their hearts for this country; home of their first record label signing, and their first radio airplay.
With a setlist respectfully representative of their 21 year career, Garbage put on an incredible and energetic performance, with Shirley not letting the occasional missed lyric slow her down. Despite the spilled beers (all down my back!), broken camping chairs and thrown blankets, it was clear to see why Garbage have maintained their fondness for Australia, and the feeling is very much mutual.
Photos by Rebecca Houlden.