Down to Earth – A Fire and Climate Relief Concert Review

Dearest Marshall Street fam, 

It’s been a couple of weeks! I’m so sorry about the radio silence, but we all know life gets busy and shit gets real. 
But I’m back! And I have some great stories to tell. This week I want to kick off with a review of Down to Earth, the firefight benefit held at the Myer Music Bowl here in Melbourne. It was a massive day of music, starting at 2pm and wrapping up around 11, but it was an experience that I was so happy to be a part of. Let’s dive in. 

The Acts

When I saw the announcement for this gig, there was no question. I was absolutely going. Headlined by Gang of Youths and Tash Sultana, with a supporting lineup of Angus & Julia Stone, Thelma Plum, Jack River, Ruby Fields and Briggs, this was festival-worthy to say the least. I had never seen GoY, Angus & Julia or Ruby until this day, and it’s been years since I’d seen Tash so it was good to see a new set from her, with some new tricks up her sleeve! 
We arrived right at the end of Ruby’s set, just as she was singing Dinosaurs. I can’t say I’ve “seen her live” as I didn’t see her full set, but from what I did hear, she was killing it. We found a spot on the grass with our rug and set up shop. 

Briggs was good, definitely an artist with a strong message which I respect, and while I don’t really listen to his music I did recognise a few songs. Big energy and kept a vibe going throughout the set. The call and response of “Fuck you Scomo” in the first song was enough to get anyone engaged. 

Thelma was up next, beautiful as always. She mixed her set up slightly from when I last saw her at the Corner Hotel, which was good. I knew most of the songs and still enjoyed them just as much as the last time I saw her. The audience was loving it, so I was loving it. 

Jack River was next. I’m not a huge Jack River fan, I don’t really listen to her music, but I can still appreciate it. I know she has some superfans out there, which I respect. I didn’t pay heaps of attention to her set, mainly because she also played Grapevine recently, and she’s been on the bill for many similar-calibre festivals over the last couple of years so, inadvertently, I’ve seen her like 5 or 6 times already. She still sounded good as ever, though!

Angus and Julia were a TREAT for the eyes, ears and mind. I’d never had the pleasure of seeing these guys live until today and boy was it worth the wait. While I’m not a massive fan of theirs, I am very familiar with their music and I’m a sucker for the whimsical, otherworldly element they bring to the stage. Julia’s voice is incredible, she really is an amazing talent. I love her face when she sings, she really enunciates every sound and pushes the note forward and you can see her doing this. Angus is a talent in his own right, and when they both come together it’s really something to behold. The covered Beds Are Burning, which was a really grounding moment. My friend didn’t fully enjoy them last time she saw them, because the event mixed with their set time may not have been quite right for their sound, but this performance definitely won her back over. 

Tash did not come to mess around. She exploded onto the stage with an unmatched energy and I remembered why I love her so much in the first place. Playing guitar, drums/ beats, trumpet, pan flute among other things, this girl is an undeniable talent in the Australian – and the global- music industry. She’s changed her setup a bit since 2017, and now she has another platform to the other side of the stage that her loop pedals are connected to, so she can leave her main space and run around. She also played her guitar while it was lying down. Like, the guitar was flat on the stage and she was standing over it and playing it. And it sounded amazing. 10/10 for Tash, nothing new here. 

Down to Earth was the first time that I ever had the pleasure of seeing Gang of Youths live! And boy, what an experience. It honestly seemed like a GoY concert throughout the day, the amount of people repping their merch and talking to others about how excited they were to see them – it’s evident that this band has a super loyal fanbase. And I can see why, The vocals of David Le’aupepe are comparable to Nick Cave or Elvis – is that too bold? The band works together seamlessly and you can hear each element of the performance shining through. David comes through the crowd for some moments, creating hysteria among us up the top as he got to the fence that keeps us from rioting down to the stalls. 

They opened with The Deepest Sighs, The Frankest Shadows, which is my favourite song by them and made it onto my Hottest 100 votes for 2017. I thought this was an odd choice at first, but saw how it worked with the set as a whole. It starts slow and has a wonderful build that really gets the audience warmed up for the rest of the performance. 

They ended on Say Yes to Life, which I’m not super familiar with (forgive me) but I was singing along by the end. 

The Venue

I’ve decided that I really like the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. I’ve never been down the front in the seating area, but honestly, I don’t feel the need. The hill is perfect for viewing live music. Any flatter and you wouldn’t be able to see, any steeper and it would be uncomfortable. They saw the perfect hill, they saw an opportunity, and they took it. 
We put down our rug in a little spot that we found – we were lucky enough to get there early so we could fit. Our biggest error was being nice to 3 people who couldn’t find a spot, and helping to make a spot for them. They then turned into a group of 20 as the day went on. Lesson learned. 

There were ample bar services and we barely had to wait in line, which was amazing. Picking your moments to get another round also helps with this, so just be smart about it. Didn’t love the drink options – only one vodka based mixer which was a Double Black and then it went straight to JD and coke – questionable at best but we sucked it up.

There were not enough food options! I think there were 4 vans doing your standard festival food (burgers, wraps, pizzas, chips etc), a donut van (who wants donuts when you’ve been drinking in the sun all day – not I) and another coffee van that didn’t do food. The lines were ridiculous. We went to Maccas afterward and ate because we were not missing Tash Sultana for an overpriced Margherita. More food vans and less menu items at each place would ensure quicker and more efficient service, but maybe that’s just the hospo worker in me talking.

Bathrooms. GOD BLESS the Bowl for having ACTUAL FACILITIES. There’s the bathrooms that are under the hill, ones that are down behind the stage, and they even put in some temporary ones just to service the day. 10/10 was not almost peeing my pants even once. I would definitely recommend going to an event at the Myer Music Bowl at least once, it’s worth it.

All in all, the day/night was an incredible experience and it felt amazing to be a part of something bigger than us. The day raised over 1 million dollarydoos (tickets, bar sales, merch and text-in donations combined) and it was nice to feel like I was doing my part. Someone on stage during the day (may have been Bridget Hustwaite) said that we would look back at this day and be proud that we were a part of history. And I think I will.

‘Til next time

Al

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