Once again tastefully curated and attracting an enviable line-up, the annual Australian music event Harvest returns next month with another stellar-looking festival. Last year’s headliners were The Flaming Lips, Portishead and The National and I had a major case of FOMO while reading about it in Auckland, so when the 2012 line-up was announced recently I decided that it was time to head across the ditch and check out the Melbourne event for myself. And what a line-up! Alt legend Beck, Icelandic post-rock heroes Sigur Rós, vocalist extraordinaire Mike Patton (with his Mondo Cane project), and acclaimed Brooklyn indie-rockers Grizzly Bear are this year’s headliners, and they will be joined by a diverse range of great international artists such as Beirut, Santigold, Chromatics, Liars, The War on Drugs, Fuck Buttons, Los Campesinos! and many more. As both a primer for the festival and an introduction for the uninitiated, I have posted a selection of highlights from the many bands I’m excited about seeing at Harvest below, and you can expect a full review following the event.
Check out the full Harvest 2013 line-up and ticketing details below:
Beck, Sigur Ros, Mike Patton’s Mondo Cane, Grizzly Bear, Ben Folds Five, Silversun Pickups, Beirut, Santigold, Cake, The Dandy Warhols, Dexys, The Black Angels, Chromatics, Crazy P, Ozomatli, Liars, Fuck Buttons, Los Campesinos!, The War on Drugs, Dark Dark Dark, River City Extension, Dark Horses and Winter People.
Werribee Park, Melbourne — 10 November
Werribee Park, Melbourne — 11 November (Sold Out)
Parramatta Park, Sydney — 17 November
Brisbane City Botanic Gardens, Brisbane — 18 November
Beck is an artist that needs no introduction. It’s been awhile since his last studio album (2008’s Modern Guilt), but the innovative singer/songwriter has been keeping busy since with his Record Club project, producing albums for friends — Charlotte Gainsbourg’s IRM, Thurston Moore’s Demolished Thoughts, Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks’ Mirror Traffic — and releasing an occasional new track for soundtracks or compilations (‘Looking For a Sign‘, ‘I Just Started Hating People Today‘, ‘Michelangelo Antonioni‘). Mr Hansen has recently reunited with his classic touring line-up of Justin Meldal-Johnsen, Smokey Hormel and Roger Joseph Manning Jr. and the band have been performing songs from his two greatest albums, 1996’s Odelay! and 2002’s Sea Change. This bodes very well for Beck’s performance at Harvest, and I can’t wait to finally see one of my favourite artists live.
Watch Beck perform ‘The Golden Age’ on the 2003 BBC Sessions below.
Sigur Rós returned this year with their sixth studio LP Valtari. They have since been touring and steadily releasing a series of fascinating music videos as part of their Mystery Film Experiment. I have never experienced the majesty of their live show, but from what I understand it is quite something to behold.
Watch ‘Festival’ from Sigur Rós’ 2011 concert LP/DVD Inni below.
Mike Patton is best known as the vocalist for ’90s alt-rockers Faith No More, with whom he reunited in 2010 for an immensely enjoyable world tour. But diehard fans such as myself also know him as the restless, idiosyncratic and experimental vocalist of such diverse acts as Fantômas, Tomahawk, Mr. Bungle, Lovage and Peeping Tom (not to mention the founder of Ipecac Recordings). Most recently, Patton released the 2010 LP Mondo Cane, which consists of his arrangements and performances of 1950s and 60s Italian pop songs with the backing of a forty-strong orchestra, a fifteen-piece band, and a choir, and his performance promises to be something special indeed.
Watch a 2008 performance of Mondo Cane highlight ‘Deep Deep Down’ below.
Grizzly Bear released their fourth LP Shields last month, and I’m pretty convinced it’s their best effort yet. The group have recently delivered great performances on The Colbert Report and Fallon, and I’m eagerly anticipating seeing this guys live at the top of their game. They will also be performing in New Zealand following their Harvest appearance, so I plan to catch them twice!
Watch Grizzly Bear’s latest video for ‘Yet Again’ below.
Portland Italo-disco revivalists Chromatics have been enjoying some much-deserved success following their prominent inclusion on the Drive soundtrack last year, and they capitalised on that this year with their excellent double LP titled Kill For Love, which remains one of my very favourite albums of 2012. If you haven’t heard it yet, do yourself a favour and check it out now.
Watch Chromatics perform a cover of ‘Running Up That Hill’ below.
Unpredictable Brooklyn-based alt-rockers Liars released their sixth LP WIXIW earlier this year, marking a shift toward Radiohead-esque electronic textures. I haven’t stopped listening to the album since it’s release, and I’m very curious to see how the new beat-driven tracks will work live.
Watch Liars’ perform ‘Brats‘ for Pitchfork.tv below.
Philadelphian psych-rockers The War on Drugs appeared on many people’s radar last year with their great sophomore LP Slave Ambient. Their Americana-tinged, shoegaze-influenced sound occupies a unique space between Bob Dylan and My Bloody Valentine, and from what I’ve seen of their late-night TV performances they look terrific live.
Watch The War on Drugs perform ‘Come to the City’ on the Late Show with David Letterman below.
Santa Fe indie-folk collective Beirut were only in Australasia in January of this year, and they delivered a knock-out show at Auckland’s Powerstation. Zach Condon and co. are still touring in support of last year’s impressive LP The Rip Tide, and I highly recommend seeing them live whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Watch Beirut perform ‘East Harlem’ on the Late Show with David Letterman below.
Philadelphian singer/songwriter Santigold followed-up her breakout 2008 debut LP this year with Master of My Make-Believe, an admittedly inconsistent but still enjoyable album of pop, hip-hop, new wave and electronica fusions. Santi White has been impressing with high-energy and colourful sets at Coachella, The Colbert Report and Jay-Z’s Made In America festival this year, and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing her.
Watch Santigold’s latest video for ‘The Keepers’ below.
Bristol electro-noise duo Fuck Buttons have been relatively quiet since releasing 2009’s brilliant sophomore LP Tarot Sport, with Benjamin John Power occupying his time of late with the side project Blanck Mass. Two of their songs — ‘Surf Solar’ and ‘Olympians’ — were unexpectedly played during the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, which reminded me how badly we need a new album from these guys.
Watch Fuck Buttons’ video for ‘Olympians’ below.
Seven-piece Cardiff-based indie-pop outfit Los Campesinos! have steadily been releasing well regarded music over the past five years, with their fourth LP Hello Sadness arriving late last year. They list the likes of Modest Mouse, Belle & Sebastian and The Magnetic Fields as influences, and I’m interested to see how all seven members interact together in a live setting.
Watch Los Campesinos!’ recent video for ‘Hello Sadness’ below.