Day three of Forbidden Fruit may have ebbed a little towards the bland end by the time curfew approached, but there was no hint of that upcoming barrage of beige with afternoon openers Superorganism. This ultra-hip, multinational internet age electro group descended in a flurry of colour, dressed in a differently coloured pastel raincoats, the band kicked things into gear with a dreamy indie electro sound that matches the youthful exuberance of the band’s stage presence with a suitably dance-inducing soundtrack. The slick Nobody Cares oozed cool irony, while the bright and cheery The Prawn Song conjured up the atmosphere of a chill afternoon rave.
Superorganism aren’t in this game long. They dropped their debut album earlier in the year, and some of the members appear to still be in their teens, but by the time next year’s festival season it wouldn’t be surprising to see them pop up on a few more bills.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Over on the festival mainstage New Zealand’s Unknown Mortal Orchestra were just getting started with their opening few numbers when vocalist and lead guitarist Ruban Neilson took a sudden notion and ran from the stage, down the access ramp, and straight out into the crowd. A mostly seated and sunbathing afternoon audience were soon up on their feet as Neilson ran the length of the pit and climbed the tower to the sound desk, all while leaning his band though an elongated instrumental breakdown mid-song. As far as we can tell there wasn’t a note missed, either. It was either a daring bit of stagecraft, or the sound tech was having some serious issues that needed the direct intervention of the bad leader. Either way this spirited dash was impressive, bringing the show to life in just about the most memorable way possible. From there the band navigated their way neatly though chill indie tunes that weren’t afraid to devolve into prolonged bouts of psychedelic guitar noodling. There were no more big displays for the rest of the set. In their place the likes of So Good At Being in Trouble provided a comfortable soundtrack to sitting in field, taking in the sun, and sipping a drink or two.
Back in the shade of the Underground Stage Thundercat had been shuffled up the bill, but news had gotten around and big top tent was packed. The reason for this change may have been a cold the bassist was labouring under, which also led to him cutting the set a little shorter than planned as his voice started to give out. But before this, there was nothing to fault. From the start Thundercat let rip on his six-string bass with one amazingly complex jazz number after another. Behind him a keyboardist and drummer filled in as a whole orchestra, conjuring up a dizzying spectacle where everything sounded huge but yet the intricacy of each detail shone through. In his charming and down to earth between song audience interaction (in between letting us know that many of these songs were in fact written to his actuals cat), Thundercat bemoaned missing out on Unknown Mortal Orchestara who were just finishing up over on the main stage. Praise indeed from such a virtuoso musician, but he had a point – the best the Monday had to offer came earlier on in the day.
Grizzly Bear are no strangers to this part of the world – they kicked off their most recent European tour in Vicar Street back in October – but this may not go down as their finest visit. Their folk-leaning rock style found itself getting a little lost in the milieu of a big outdoor show like this, and while Grizzly Bear have a delightfully varied sound that rewards a careful listener, it would have taken extreme care to pick up on all of that here. There are moments where everything lands as it should – as on Two Weeks which perked everything up with its gentle and gorgeous melody and a vocal harmony on the chorus peaked just as it should in a way that finally managed to fill the whole stage – but there just weren’t quite enough moments like this. There were a few issues on the tech end throughout, but the real issues seems to have been that this show would just have sounded better in an intimate, indoor venue.