The Berry Showgrounds, just 2 hours south of Sydney on the beautiful South Coast of NSW is the perfect venue for this event, with its location making it relatively straightforward for punters in whichever way they chose to make their way there.
Now on to the all important music....
Day one got underway on the main stage with all girl act Body Type from Sydney whose blend of pop and punk was a great way to get in the mood for what was ahead.
Over on the more intimate Windmill Stage, Melbourne posters Oh Pep! played to an appreciative crowd. The duo showed their musical proficiency with not only their perfect sweet harmonies, but a plethora of instruments, from mandolin to guitar through to violin.
Back on the main stage, Saba had the crowd jumping, whilst Melbourne singer-songwriter Tyne-James Organ played an impressive acoustic set showcasing the material he has been working on these past few months, together with a hint of where his musical roots began with an awesome cover of Michael Jackson’s “The way you make me feel” delivered in his own unique style.
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever returned home after their whirlwind 2018 which has seen them over in the UK, Europe and US on the bills of some massive festivals. It was no surprise to see them playing a tight and polished set of indie pop, well deserving of their success to date.
Mackay born, but now Brisbane based, Tia Gostelow came to the stage informing the crowd that this was the first time she had performed without her full band. She proceeded to play tracks off her debut album “Thick Skin”, as well as throwing in a cover of Empire Of The Sun’s “We are the people”.
Next up, probably the main drawcard act for day one, Vance Joy. Having brought with him a full band, complete with horn section, this was a set for everyone to enjoy, with a broad cross section of his material to date, which many in the crowd were happy to sing along to. As Vance was about to launch into his one of his signature songs “Georgia”, he spotted a guy in the audience with a sign saying that he was keen to play guitar on the song, so called him up on stage, only to realise that it was a young kid and the sign referred to his older brother. The second audience member (being the guitarist in question) then climbed up to strap on Vance’s guitar, whilst his younger brother found a cosy position in front of the drum kit. A nice gesture, which drew a round of applause from the appreciative crowd.
The evening was then rounded out with sets from Pist Idiots, followed by the psychedelic sounds of Pond.
It was an earlier start for day two of the Fairgrounds Festival with things getting underway around midday with back to back singer-songwriters in the form of Charlie Collins, Andrew Gibson, Totty, Kevin Morby, Maddy Jane and Carla Geneve, before the soulful sounds of The Teskey Brothers provided the perfect accompaniment to the beautiful summer conditions and showed why this act from Melbourne’s outskirts are fast becoming a festival drawcard.
The international acts on the bill were up next with Billy Bragg playing a set of some of the many songs across his lengthy career, complete with the in between song banter and social commentary you come to expect from the man in question. Wil Wagner from The Smith Street Band joined Billy on stage for one of his songs and was later in the day during his own solo set, regaling the punters of how his own dad raised him on a strict diet of Bruce Springsteen and Billy Bragg.
Continuing the international flavour, The Breeders made their welcome return to the Australian festival stage and together with the aforementioned Billy Bragg, it evoked memories for many punters of the heady days of a now defunct festival in the 90’s decade. The Deal sisters were in fine form and clearly enjoying themselves as they sprinkled songs from their back catalogue, with a heavy emphasis on their “Last Splash” album. Courtney Barnett joined them on stage, a favour that was later returned when Kim and Kelly Deal joined Courtney during her own set for a track they provided backing vocals for on her current album.
Showing the diversity of musical genres on offer at the Fairgrounds Festival, Sampa The Great and Waxahatchee then provided some quality entertainment for the slightly younger members of the crowd.
The Smith Street Band’s frontman Wil Wagner delivered a solo set over on The Windmill Stage to what was probably the biggest crowd gathered in the tin roofed shed across the festival. Kicking off with a few new songs he has written in a studio that he commented that he had just finished building, he then went on to get the crowd singing along to the many songs that has made his own band a current favourite for many.
Courtney Barnett then launched into an entertaining and fast paced set, backed by her solid band, demonstrating just why she is one of Australia’s most successful independent artists, having also built a solid career to date overseas. It’s been another huge year for Courtney and she shared many tracks off her 2018 album “Tell Me How You Really Feel” as well as letting the punters know that this was her last performance for the year, so it was pretty special that she chose Fairgrounds Festival as the place to wind things up.
With Fascinator and the every eclectic Winston Surfshirt to bring down the 2018 edition of Fairgrounds Festival, it was easy to see how this hidden gem is becoming an annual destination of choice for music lovers of all ages and we look forward to what the organisers can dish up yet again in 2019.
Aussie Music Weekly wishes to thank Scrabble PR for their kind hospitality at Fairgrounds Festival