On what felt like truly one of the last days of summer, somewhere on Wadawurrung country just outside of Geelong, the echo of good old fashion rock rolled between the hills and tumbled into the horizon. With its namesake owing to the simple desire to create a music festival around well-weathered rockdogs from the good ol’ US of A – 90s indie rock royalty known as Pavement – a line-up of both local and American bands created the scaffolding of talent that heralded the festival’s concept. And like the chicken and the egg, the peanut butter and the jelly, it was not either but both the headliners and the supports that held this festival up to its standing. From Pavement to Floodlights, Spiderbait to The Prize, Mod Con to Charley Crockett, every individual one and all of them together were Saturday night’s Tentpoles.
It was a little before midday when our shuttle bus pulled up to the entrance of Tentpole Music Festival. Already, I’d noticed, our skin shone. On a near-full bus from Melbourne to Geelong on one of the last hot days of the beginning of the year, our skin grew bright with the shine of the hope-filled. There was wrinkled skin, sun-kissed skin; there was skin that sagged with all the memories of rock shows from the eras gone, and there was new skin, fresh skin, skin that was to experience the connecting force of rock and roll for its very first time. Between freckles and behind moles, under shirts and above our brows, our skin shone with the optimistic delight that only music can invoke.
Even only in its first year of running, Tentpole was already on familiar ground. Taking place at Mt. Duneed Estate’s Top Paddock – a parcel of land otherwise known for hosting famed countryside festival Day on the Green and musical icons such as Sting, Crowded House and Robbie Williams – the stomping ground of the day’s music felt as tried and true as the veteran rock-loving patrons that were there to enjoy it. Original Pavement-heads from the era when the band was just beginning to sing about being just boys with new haircuts to jangly guitar lines and screaming percussion stood alongside patrons who were born only just in time to hear the threat of roasting their parents on a spit echo through car radios and local music halls. At Tentpole, there were kids, and kids of kids – toddlers with noise-protecting headphones tumbled around the dirt during the day, instinctually moving to the music like their small bodies couldn’t help it; parents tumbled around in front of the stage all evening, warm pale ale and flat sparkling chardonnay showing them how to move like their children again, like they were children again.
It was no nonsense rock. The kind that called for no millennial-pink bubble-writing banner backdropping the stage, the kind that called for no bells and whistles; there were no fireworks, no flamboyant distraction of a light show, no Insta-palatable graphic design crowding the stage or its surroundings. It was rock, just rock. The kind that demands you to listen to me! I’m on the stereo. The kind that’s entire stage presence consisted only of what was present on the stage: guitars, keyboards, bassists, drums, and the screaming vocals of every one of the musicians who just wanted us all to share in something. And the punters revelled; in the music, in the joy, in the sounds and the words and how they sound alongside each other, how they sounded when we all sang them together.
It was a little after midnight when the same bus that brought us toward the Holy Grail pulled us back away; by then our skin sagged – weathered, worn, dirty and bruised. The markers of what felt like the last day of summer would linger for a little while once we were dropped back home. The dust would eventually fall from our shoes, the dirt would be washed from underneath our fingernails. But some other things would linger a little longer, some other things would’ve crawled under our skin. Lyrics would tumble through our heads in the week following like some kids’ parents had around the dance floor on that Saturday night; hangovers wouldn’t dissipate like they used to, back when Pavement was still new to the scene and camera phones couldn’t do the remembering for us. We would strain to remember all the names of all the bands, all the names of all the songs. And, maybe forevermore, we’d be left trying to think of all the words that rhymed with Pavement.
By Juliette Salom
Header Image via Forte Magazine
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