Synergy Live 2011 – wow, definitely a highlight of the year. Three days full of fun fuelled by booze, adrenaline and awesome music; the experience has left my body broken and my mind racing. I want to do it all again. Right now…but I can’t, so I’ll have to settle for the next best option: reliving my festival experience day by day.
Last year’s Synergy had been my first and I really liked that the fest was relatively small and pretty much intimate compared to something like Ramfest. In the build up to this year’s you could sense they were thinking bigger though – BRMC was a huge pull (at least to me) and the organisers were advertising extensively.
Arriving at the venue it was clear that things had indeed increased in size, exponentially. Pretty much everything was bigger than in 2010: the number of international acts, the sound, the size of the LMG tent, the camping area, parking lot and the distance between them.
The journey from the car to the campgrounds was long and tiresome. It was really hot. Raptors circled above and I wondered (drunkenly) if they were eying out hippies as potential prey. They wouldn’t've gone hungry – hippies, hipsters, headbangers, rockers and stompers, they were all there in their thousands.
Once we set up camp we headed down to the concert area where there was a huge choice of entertainment on offer – 3 music stages (main, LMG and Red Bull’s electro/dance area) a comedy tent (I only visited it once and listened for a few minutes to a guy describing homeless people in Obz), carnival rides and even a mini cinema screening interesting short films. My attention was split pretty evenly between the main and LMG stages, though I did make a few stops at the Red Bull stage too. As I was authorised to shoot everywhere, I intended to run around and see as much as possible all weekend, as a result I caught very few full sets from any act but that’s the nature of festivals – there are always multiple things that interest you happening simultaneously.
It had been a while since I’d last seen Saintfearless. We were hanging around the main stage waiting for them to kick off the weekend when we were handed a flyer for their performance as well as some energy gum by a promo girl. “If it starts to taste bad, that means it’s working!” was her sales pitch. Geoff was dubious, the rest of us happily accepted the stranger’s candy and started to chew. At first it was overly minty, then, true to the warning, it started tasting rather weird…I’d later be cursing it.
Luckily Saintfearless didn’t suffer from the same kind of slump. They were as energetic as ever and when I left, their decent turnout of spectators seemed to be loving them.
I’d heard good things about The Mysticcs and was keen to see them but didn’t manage to catch much of their set, and what I did see I don’t really remember, aside from the fact that they had a heavier sound than I was expecting.
I missed most of Fox Comet, which was a pity as I always like watching them. I did stick around long enough to appreciate vocalist Rob Coutts’ amusing on-stage antics and hilarious shirt though.
Holiday Murray were disappointing, the harmonies I heard were pretty iffy. The crowd didn’t seem to mind though, and seemed pleased enough with their catchy folk pop, whimsical presence (though I feel like the black-shirted vocalist missed the dresscode memo) and super-fun bubble machine.
Sticking my head back into the LMG tent, I heard the first act of the weekend I can honestly say I really didn’t like – The Lottery tickets. They’d won their slot courtesy of their Facebook popularity (along with Dogtown, whom I missed) and definitely seemed to have no shortage of friends and supporters in the tent…maybe it’s just me but I thought the singer was pretty bad and the one song I remember, something about the sea, was pretty weak…
On one of my back-and-forth treks between stages, I bumped into Kyle Brinkmann, AKA electro whizz-kid Das Kapital, watching Tommy Gun. Our families were friends so we saw each other all the time when we were kids, but we really hadn’t spoken much since then. It was cool to chat again; things seem to be going really well for him and people are starting to take serious note of his production and DJ skills. He’s still really down-to-earth about it all while being confident in himself and his music, I hope he can hold onto his humility when he becomes huge…
I came back later to watch him play but unfortunately couldn’t stick around too long. From what I’ve been hearing though, he played a killer set.
Musically, Sabretooth are not my thing, but they’re great at what they do and are always quite the spectacle so I checked them out briefly before heading back to the LMG tent, in time to catch a bit of Crimson House Blues (can’t say I remember them though…)
I’d planned to take a break during The Plastics and Ashtray Electric, as I’m really not a fan of either of them, but after a slow walk to the tent and back I still had time to kill and decided to check out the lesser of the two evils – Ashtray Electric.
I dunno, I feel like I should like them but they just don’t do it for me…
Back in the LMG Tent, Reburn were up. Again, I’m afraid I really don’t remember them but they had loads of people dancing…
Shadowclub‘s performance saw the tent so full that people were virtually queuing outside. Even though I’d just seen them the night before I couldn’t help but stay to watch their full set, they’re just too cool.
But the Friday highlight and standout performance of the night was up next – The Wild Eyes. They’re always great, but this time they were particularly good as bassist Gareth Dawson seemed to up the insanity factor a bit, breaking out in violent spasms and attacking his bass with a drumstick with more furiousitythan normal.
Rockstar among photographers Liam Lynch was not only present but seemed duly impressed – and when he’s watching the same band you are, you know you’re in for a great show.
A small group in the front are begging for some old songs, by the end of the set they’ll settle for just Valley of the Snake, but that’s not how it works. The Wild Eyes have reinvented themselves and I’ve no doubt they’ll do so again in the future. I liked their last incarnation and love their present so if they keep evolving in this manner, I can’t wait.
I probably should’ve called it a night after that, ended on a high note. Instead I went to check out Goodluck. Their ridiculously uptempo feel-goodness clashed horribly with the manic darkness of The Wild Eyes and I didn’t hang around long…
An awesome first day done and dusted, I found my way back to the tent and, after adding as many additional layers of clothing as possible (and still feeling too cold to properly sleep), let the thumping beats of Niskerone soothe me into Saturday…
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