We are incredibly lucky to have the number of boutique festivals that we do in Victoria. With Kennedys Creek, By The Meadow and Hopkins Creek already being established names on the festival circuit; it’s Loch Hart currently drawing the hype as a newcomer.
Now returning for their second year, Loch Hart highlighted once again that whilst they may be new on the scene, they are easily a worthy contender as Victoria’s best boutique festival.
The site is picturesque with incredible amounts of growth (whilst the festival would now be hosting between 500-1000 punters, the room for expansion is exponential), the lineup is high calibre and the return rate of fans was huge. Within just two years it was extremely evident there are many fans who plan to return every year; and why wouldn’t they? It’s an absolute unreal time.
Baked Beans were easily my highlight of the weekend. Pulling a huge crowd for the Friday night, Beans’ tore through their established brand of psych-rock. Whilst most psych bands rely on distortion, ambience and low-fi components, Beans steer more towards old-school rock approaches with bouncy riffs, heavy shredding keys and huge changes in tempo. What I’m saying is, Baked Beans really define themselves on the scene by their unique sound, it’s a genuine credit to them. Showcasing a few new songs, Beans’ set was primarily tracks found on their debut album Babble. Opening with the Deep Purple-esque ‘Slow’ got the crowd into it early with looks of amazement on punters face when it got to the song’s final breakdown. ‘Easy’ and ‘Comfortable,’ both personal favourites of mine made appearances with vocalist’ Matt Blach’s manic screamed vocals matched with abrasive guitar (in Comfortable) reminding me of previous local favourites The Vasco Era. As always, I really enjoyed Baked Beans set, but it was the Babble closer, ‘Over and Doubt’ that really stood out for me this time around with its simmering riff, ambient keys, and extended singalong being truly mesmerising.
Alice Ivy was the weekend’s headliner and I was really keen when I saw her place on the lineup. Being an up and coming act off the triple j circuit and hailing from the Geelong region she is well and truly an act that I’m proud to endorse. Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed with her set. Before I say what I want too, I will clarify that the majority of the crowd loved her with songs like ‘Chasing Stars’, ‘Kinda High’ and her collab with Ecca Vandal ‘In My Mind’ providing the perfect festival set for most fans; personally, I was slightly let down. Majority of the set reminded me of that one friend who always changes the song halfway through because they want to listen to the next song more; the mixing was quite often out of tempo and haphazardous, however, that being said, some of the samples that were used throughout were quite bohemian and impressive.
Zuma is a local act who I can really see blowing up any second now. Being the perfect mix between Ponds’ synth/dance-pop and Portishead’s enigmatic vocals, Zuma are incredible. With songs off their debut album being on display in the Saturday arvo, it seemed fans where truly in awe, in particular for songs such as the trip-hop-esque ‘Coming of Age’ which really showcases Alex Latham’s impressive vocals.
Didirri was not as slow and folky as I expected and was such an incredible talent. Not that it would have been a problem if he was, just for his Saturday night set time I felt as if he may have been slightly too low-key. I was wrong. His backup band was much more ruled by shredding rock elements, which with Didirri’s slow and droney vocals provided for an amazing set. Opening with a song about his fear of hairdressers, Didirri’s music quite often highlighted his level of wit in his lyricism as well as being genuinely beautiful and cinematic to listen too. Didirri is a talent who will continue to push his career very far and is definitely worth checking out. I was blown away.
I don’t think anyone expected Alpine to open with ‘Gasoline’ and golly, was it special. The crowd immediately jumped up and started grooving to Alpine’s impressive brand of disco-pop. Pumping through new songs such as ‘Primal’ and ‘Password’, the crowd was loving it. Utilizing their instruments in an impressive way a lot of the songs had quite intricate and off-tempo percussion which mixed with funky basslines created a perfect dynamic. Older songs like ‘Foolish’ got the crowd moving for the late-night Saturday set with lead vocalist Phoebe Baker’s theatrical stage presence commanding your attention.
Thank you for having me again Loch Hart! You’re onto something special here and I can’t wait to see what it grows into in the many years to come.
When: November 15-17, 2019
Where: Great Ocean Road, Princetown
Reviewed by Alex Callan
Photos by Robyn Strathearn