Good Vibrations @ Gold Coast Parklands, 19.02.2011 – Part 1

It’s Saturday morning and if there’s one place I don’t want to be today it’s Good Vibrations.  I mean I did, once, when I said I’d head down to the Gold Coast for the day and photograph it, but that was when the two main drawcards (for me at least) – Janelle Monae and Cee Lo Green – were still playing.  In between the festival line-up being announced and the festival starting its journey around the country, both artists had dropped out in favour of playing at the Grammys.  Playing a major awards ceremony watched by millions of people all around the world and covered in detail by the music press versus playing an hour show in a few cities around Australia for a few thousand people; it’s a fairly easy decision to make really.  From memory, year-on-year Good Vibrations has suffered from scheduling its festival so that it clashes with one of the music industry’s biggest awards night and this is not the first time acts booked to play (and used to advertise the festival and help sell tickets to it) have dropped out.

Having made the mistake of listening to my iPod with my eyes shut I suddenly find myself arriving at Varsity Lakes, the final stop on the train line, having somehow managed to miss the train emptying when it arrived at Helensvale.  It’s not a long wait to get the train back to the right stop but it does mean missing two of the bands I had planned on photographing; Teleprompter and Ball Park Music.  Finally arriving on site, and indeed well into late afternoon, one thing is startlingly obvious; the place is really empty, even with the festival organisers having a list minute fire sale not only advertising a two-for-one deal but also extending this to people who have already bought tickets.  If this is the size of the crowd when you allow ticket holders to ‘bring a friend’ for free, I’d hate to have seen just how low the original ticket sales were.

For the first half of the day the bands play to embarrassingly low numbers; the sort of audiences that would have looked small in The Zoo let alone in front of huge outdoor stages.  And huge is the best description for the stages, especially the main stage, which must be all of eight foot tall, even before the fold back speakers are lined along the front.  It makes taking photos problematic, and you need to go far out to the sides to actually see much of the stage.  Anyone stood at the front of the barrier can’t have had much of a view of the acts they presumably came to watch.

There are two real standouts from the afternoon acts; Aloe Blacc and Erykah Badu.  Early on, Aloe Blacc name-checks some of the great soul singers and whilst he might never get to be included amongst the canon, his vocals are of the Marvin Gaye/Al Green type.  Sweet, soaring, silky smooth and yet still effortless.

Erykah Badu’s band precedes her and starts playing around the same three (maybe four) chords for maybe ten minutes (or at least that’s how long it feels like) and you’ve never seen a band who look so disinterested in being on stage.  Finally Ms Badu makes her entrance and makes up for her lateness by being completely stunning.  Words just can’t describe her voice, but it’s one of the best live female vocal performances I’ve ever seen.  Not sure what she’s wearing exactly though; looks like she’s mistaken a jumper for trousers in the rush to get on stage and has completed her outfit with a wraparound US flag on top, winged-gauntlets and some serious bling.

One Response to “Good Vibrations @ Gold Coast Parklands, 19.02.2011 – Part 1”

  1. Richard says:

    You take great photos man!

    The gig sounds like fun too!

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