Review: Sugar Mountain Festival – Melbourne (21/01/2017)

Saturday 21st of January 2017, Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, VIC

A sunny Melbourne day greeted us to the VCA as Sugar Mountain hosted their 6th annual event. Smack, bang in the city but it doesn’t even feel like it! The layout is great and it is perfect sized festival. Our first trip of the day was to the bar, which had a wonderful selection of Sample Brewery craft brews and cocktails (featuring a lovely V energy drink).

We checked out some of the many art and creative spaces across the festival, the highlight was Robyn Moody and Caroline Polachek’s interactive harp, which uses uses interactive lasers as the strings of a phonetic harp.


HABITS: 1:10-1:50
Watched: 1:30-1:50
Very interesting duo, would have loved to see a full set.
Rating: 7.5/10

Weyes Blood: 2:00-2:40
Watched: ALL
Great set my the 28 year old american singer. Very chilled and mature set. ‘Seven Words’ among the highlights. At one point she told the afternoon crowd a joke “for the feminists out there”. “What’s the difference between a woman and a washing machine?” she said. “A washing machine doesn’t follow you around for two weeks after you drop a load in it.”
Rating: 7.5/10

ALTA: 2:10-2:50
Watched: 2:40-2:50
We caught the last two songs from the Melbourne duo ALTA. Set closer ‘Unbelievable’ showcases their ability of a summer tune and bright future.
Rating: 8/10

We then checked out the “Parking Lot” Boiler Room where the Italian disco god Beppe Lada was bringing the good vibes surrounded dancing punters and by colourful artworks including a lovely purple and yellow sprayed wall.

Following this, we found the secret nightclub “Studio 45” before heading back to the Movement stage.

Moses Sumney: 3:10-3:50
Watched: 3:15:3:30
The singer songwriter from California had a great soulful sound, but we opted to leave early in search for more of a party vibe. But this man will have a rich future, after coming up the ranks through Sofar Sounds and some great support slots recently with Dirty Projectors, Junip, and Sufjan Stevens.
Rating: 7/10

We then caught a few songs from Avant-electronic project of producer/vocalist Laura Jane Lowther, otherwise known as Kucka as well as the tail-end of the performance from American Kelsey Lu and her cello that was extremely beautiful to hear.

Big Scary: 5:20-6:10
Watched: All
A big crowd joined Big Scary on the festival’s main stage and it was clear that ‘The Opposite Of Us’ and ‘Up and Up and Up’ were the two the crowd-favourites . The set finished on the piano-driven ‘Twin Rivers’.
Rating: 7/10

We then went on a dinner hunt, and settled on the busy and almost sold out of burgers 8-Bit.

Rolling Blackouts C.F.: 6:45-7:30
Watched: 7:10-7:30
The Melbourne pop-punk band brought a whole lot of energy to the Theatre stage.
Rating: 6.5/10

Between sets we caught Mood II Swing at the Boiler Room.

Pantha du Prince: 8:00-9:00
Watched: 8:00-8:30
An epic set from the German producer as the beats slowly built up throughout the set. Really unexpected to be a fan of this one and won me over.
Rating: 9/10

Slum Sociable: 8:30-9:10
Watched: ALL
The duo from Melbourne’s Slum Sociable put on my favourite set of the day, still early in their career and producing gems like ‘Name Call’, ‘All Night’, ‘Anyway’ and ‘Apartment’. Great fun and a great sound!
Rating: 9.5/10

The Avalanches: 9:30-10:30
Watched: ALL
The Avalanches were the last-minute replacements for original headliner ‘Blood Orange’, not my personal preference but the Australian band put on an impressive set.
The band launched begun their set with ‘Because I’m Me’ before going into the catchy ‘Frankie Sinatra’ and a cover of The Clashes ‘The Guns Of Brixton’. ‘Subways’ brought on the backdrop of the cartoons and from the point the performance stepped up to another level with old favourites ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’ and ‘Since I Left You’.
Rating: 8/10

Overall we opted to try out Sugar Mountain over our usual annual Laneway experience. The vibe was better at SM17 and I believe they are leading the pack in unveiling new talent.


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