Embarking on an adventure such as this for a day of majestic music, fantastic cuisine and remarkable refreshments seemed a journey above reality; truthfully it was more a idyllic dream than actuality. So upon arrival this writer was faced with the first challenge presented being: The lack of passes into Handpicked Festival – a certain nuisance after an hour long bus ride which was rather scenic and glorious in itself. However, English essayist put is best with his quote: “Even imperfection itself may have its ideal or perfect state”; before long the problem was rectified and the experience was ready to be undertaken in the best seat possible.
The delay unfortunately affected the time witnessed of Adelaide’s indie folk soul songstress Sasha March and her brilliant band; but her songs from her debut album ‘Don’t Go Falling’ retained an incredible impact amongst the “breezy” (pun intended) conditions. Soldiering through the obstacles presented, the outfit channelled the likes of Jeff Buckley and Ani DiFranco with soothing heartfelt acoustic ballads and welcomed attendees with a serene invitation for a superlative initiation to the event.
The event required an injection of spiritedness in a sense as it was rather effortless to become overly comfortable basking in the sunlight laid upon the luscious grass next to the picturesque vineyard surrounding. Local hard rock / funk trio Tympano were set the task and put their best foot forward in doing so. In minutes, the more “happy” festival-goers were dancing around with their wine glasses in the air and shaking inelegantly – however, enjoyment was without doubt the sole reaction. A crystal clear Red Hot Chili Peppers influence is apparent with the three-piece; respectfully however, they execute the sound very well.
Tom Lion & The Tamers quickly made their responsibility blatantly apparent and succeeded in doing so with ease; their job was to musically charm the entire festival to the point of having their undivided attention and with tracks like: Fire Escape and an astounding re-imagination of Jay Z’s 99 Problems, victory was truly deserved. Combining influences from a wealth of musical knowledge including: Ben Lee, Jack’s Mannequin, The Whitlams, Paul Kelly, Kings Of Leon and even Sir Elton John at times, Mr. Lion and his merry men had Langhorne Creek captivated. The group’s EP ‘Sleep Riots’ is now available and undoubtedly after a performance of this magnitude, numerous copies would have been purchased in the wake of what transpired (and hopefully will continue to do so).
The enchantment of the event even incorporated culinary delights and naturally beverages from the sublime Lake Breeze wines. Oysters, arancini balls, cured meats, scallops with puree cauliflower and bacon, vegetable samosas with mint sauce and butter chicken curry were just some of the delicious foods on offer. Combined with a citrus-hinted vermentino white wine or fruity sauvignon blanc to the later and required shiraz which warmed the soul; these delicacies were simply superlative.
As the sun began its descent over the vines in an especially picturesque setting, Adelaide’s Jesse Davidson and his band serenaded the relaxed audience into a pleasant submission. Reminiscent of the criminally undervalued songwriter Kevin Devine, Jesse cast an unwinding spell with his soulful indie-pop-rock songs, the majority of which came from his noteworthy ‘Lizard Boy’ EP. To be frank though, the festival setting didn’t quite work in the outfit’s favour, but an intimate club show would be where Mr. Davidson & co. would really shine.
At this point in the evening, the party really needed elevate and Sydney’s The Potbelleez were the right choice for such an appointment. Opening with their electro-house anthem Hello (Let’s Go) the crowd emerged from their restful composure to complete celebratory mode. All The Way, Are You With Me?, From The Music, Saved In The Bottle and then a series of samples including Daft Punk’s Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger, The Prodigy’s Breathe and rather suiting and stunningly incorporated Hallelujah in tribute to the late and great Leonard Cohen, The Potbelleez had undeniably achieved success on this day.
Returning to the world of rock, more specifically indie rock with grunge leanings, Melbourne’s British India were invited to maintain the vivaciousness radiating in Langhorne Creek. After 12 years of service to Australian Rock, the quartet know how to perform with necessary fieriness, which they upheld for their set, but not as fluidly as they have done in the past. Technical difficulties and a drastic weather change were not allowing any favours for the four-piece, but British India are never willing to be defeated. I Can Make You Love Me, Plastic Souvenirs, Suddenly, Said I’m Sorry, Summer Forgive Me and Wrong Direction were the highlights, as well as a sneaky cover of The Temptations My Girl which roused the ill-informed concert goers to an elevated level. Ultimately however, this just did not seem to be their day; far from disappointing, but not quite their best.
After a decade long absence, it was a very welcomed return to have Victoria’s Killing Heidi back playing live. Somehow the band managed to transport the entirety of Lake Breeze wines to the late 90s and early 2000s, and it genuinely felt as if the group had never left music at all. Ella Hooper was scorching in her presence, especially during It’s Not Fair, Live Without It, Superman Supergirl, Weir, Mascara and even for the violin driven ballad Kettle. With timeless music of this proficiency, it becomes an enjoyable ride to the “younger” days and simpler times when honest pop driven rock resonated effortlessly to the listener and warmed their souls. The temperature had well and truly dropped in Langhorne Creek when darkness set in, however Killing Heidi provided the warmth and light to enrich the spirits of everybody present. Thank you for coming home Ella and Jesse Hooper.
As aforementioned at the beginning of this piece, imperfection was a theme of sorts to the entire event. Sadly, it reared its ugly head just in time for the headline act Brisbane’s pop sensations The Veronicas, where the heavens opened and relentless rain enveloped Langhorne Creek. Respectably the sisters Jess and Lisa Origliasso soldiered onto the stage and executed a drenched yet miraculous shortened performance including favourites Everything I’m Not and the delightfully predictable 4ever, the elements however, were overpowering. Not the fairytale ending the event had hoped for, but a triumph nonetheless.
To close, what better way than leaving the parting words with excerpts from The Veronicas first successful single; to Handpicked Festival and Lake Breeze wines we wanted “to spend the night with you” and in return “we could make the night last forever”, it wasn’t perfect but certainly was beyond memorable.
Saturday 12th November 2016
by Will Oakeshott