Having just announced their return, following a two-year covid pause, with a lineup that includes local legends such as Hilltop Hoods, Hockey Dad and Montaigne, as well as international favourites Broods, Wolf Alice and Thomas Headon, it’s hard to imagine that Groovin the Moo began in a paddock just outside of Newy in 2005…
Led by The Screaming Jets, with artists such as Killing Heidi and Evermore in support, it’s fair to say that the inaugural Groovin at Gloucester Showground was something of a schmozzle. Founders Rod and Catherine Little, and Steve Halpin and Wendy Gunthorpe, were admittedly a little underprepared on the day of the event.
‘‘A week before the show it was all very casual and we were kind of waiting around, having lunch and a few beers and then we’d do a bit of work,’’ Halpin told the Newcastle Herald. ‘‘A day before the show the fence was half up and we thought ‘oh, we’ll just get up early and finish it tomorrow, then there we were, trying to finish it, and suddenly people were showing up, we had ice to pick up… we were totally naive.’’
While the event, along with the second instalment a few months later in NSW’s Narrandera, was financially a failure, it was clear that they’d struck a chord with locals. By servicing the often-overlooked regional towns they were tapping into uncharted territory in the mainstream Australian music festival circuit.
By the time 2006 rolled around, the lineup had diversified and become more triple j listener friendly. With Hilltop Hoods, whose album The Hard Road had just entered ARIA charts in the #1 position playing in Maitland, Youth Group, who’d just topped the singles chart with ‘Forever Young’ performing Darwin, and the legendary You Am I taking the stage Albury, it felt like Groovin was beginning to hit its stride. Or at least, organisers were beginning to get a clear idea of which artists sold tickets.
With communities buzzing from the massive revenue that each stop of the tour was bringing in, and the punters becoming more familiar with the festival, 2007 became something of a landmark year for GTM. With sold-out events in Maitland and Albury, featuring Aussie rock stalwarts Silverchair and Grinspoon, organisers had found the right balance between big-name acts and promising niche artists.
Over the following twelve years, the festival would continue to tinker with locations and lineups, while remaining wholly committed to bringing world-class acts to regional locations. The flip side of that, of course, is that Groovin has given artists the chance to engage with fans from towns that normally might not be viable tour stops.
When looking over past lineups there are a few trends that jump out, such as artists playing the festivals early on in their career and later returning to as major drawcards. Ball Park Music were called in to replace American hip hop duo Chiddy Bang in 2012 and would go on to earn the top slot six years later in 2018. In 2013, two years before her debut LP Run, Alison Wonderland was given the opportunity to take to the stage for what must have been one of the biggest shows of her life at the time. Fast forward to 2016 and she was topping the bill.
Plenty of artists that we now consider staples in the Hottest 100 came up through Groovin’s Fresh Produce stage. Confidence Man, Haiku Hands, and Alex Lahey all were given a platform by the festival and have since gone on to become darlings of the festival circuit after wowing the regional punters.
Now, following the havoc wreaked on the music industry over the past two years, we’re hoping that 2022 will be the year that we can finally get back to partying in the paddock at Maitland, Canberra and Bendigo, with the Groovin team once again going above and beyond to make each event special. This, as Halpin told Music Business Facts, remains the ethos behind every instalment of Australia’s favourite regional festival.
“You’ve got to love putting on a party, as well. I sort of think of myself as a host, rather than a promoter I guess,” he says. “If you’re throwing a massive party you want to make sure the music’s good and the food’s good, the toilets aren’t too revolting, and you make it as easy as possible for people to have a good time.
Check out the full Groovin the Moo 2022 lineup below and head here to secure tickets now!