They will have space children ...
Hermes ensemble ... The Void ...
Mushrooms and Nicole Kidman ... Fomo
Kate Tempest ... main stage
Sage spray anyone?
Flaming Lips front man Wayne Coyne ... main stage
DJ Krush ... main stage
Nick Haywood Turell Stage
Shiny happy people ... main stage
Can’t see the artificial forest for the artificial trees ...
Main stage ...
Woman in a casket ... Fomo
Wild Birds and Peace Drums were actual wild and peaceful ...
When one alphorn is never enough
Wayne Coyne in a bubble ...
Walshy’s backyard ...
Turell Stage ...
TSOC Extreme ...
Mirel Wagner ...
The whole world is blue and there’s nothing I can do ...
The loneliest number ...
Sunset ... main stage ...
Somebody went to Fomo the night before ...
MoMa Market ...
Each year I head out to the Mofo summer festival invited along as a punter asked to put together an honest review for Tasmanian Times and to photograph the festival.
I have an open brief with no direction from the museum (outside the requirements attached to a media pass in relation to photographic access to particular events). I am also not given any direction from the Tasmanian Times. So here is my local punter’s review of Mofo 2016.
During the lead up to Mofo 2016 the talk was about the decision to move back to the museum and a stranded Spirit of Tasmania ferry leaving visitors not only unable to make the beginning of the festival but also the main headline act without their stage show. So how did it all pan out?
As has been the case previously there was a lot going on; in fact this year the festival boasted over 200 performances. Whilst some have criticized the decision to hold most of the festival at Mona as opposed to Hobart itself, this move does go a long way to address one conundrum with the festival for me. How can I be in two places at once?
The festival is still heavily packed with performers and some overlap is unavoidable, but it was far easier to plan what I wanted to see than in previous years. Even then it’s not a bad problem to have and grumbling about the fact that I have put some effort in and plan my Mofo adventure is a bit of a FWP.
The change of base camp also made for a great atmosphere and the feedback I heard from festival-goers is that the museum is great location for the festival and it added to the event. People I know who didn’t go this year thought the move wasn’t a good idea and those that did go thought it was. For interstate and international visitors they could enjoy the festival and the museum in one visit.
It also combined the visual and environmental elements of the museum and provided the exhibitions with an auditory backdrop with many performances happening inside the museum itself.
The main stage was supplemented by other great performance spaces - The Turell Stage, the Barrel Room, the Roof top, the Void, Nolan gallery, the Organ room and even the stairs were all used to great effect. The Mofo move to Mona also meant that the Mona Summer market (MoMa) could be running in conjunction with the festival. So the museum , the market and Mofo were all part of the experience.
The shift to Mona also reduced the crowd that find themselves in an identity dilemma between MMA wannabe and ‘alternative’ festival crowd (that were being thrown out of PW1 last year) allowing people that actually wanted to listen to things and party without being dicks have a good time.
Instead the steroid boys were either no shows or made appearances at Fomo but not at the museum (maybe they finally have realized it isn’t Steriosonic.) Don’t get me wrong there were plenty of folk at Mona keeping the bar sales rolling but they were just more capable of handling being hammered. This probably sounds a bit judgmental and it is. I do struggle with brogans that can’t handle their piss and the move does provide a better atmosphere.
There is also a notable shift from previous Mofo incarnations with less stacking of what would be described as more traditional headline acts at the end of each day. This meant that there were an even larger proportion of conceptual and diverse acts than previous Mofos. I must add that although some of these cerebral outpourings will never appear on my album download list, I found the concepts behind them interesting. The mainstream headline thinning appeared to come from the non-selection of Australian rock icons to boost the lineup. In my opinion this cements the festival’s identity providing the festival a point of difference.
Evelyn Glennie’s performance was a masterful display of engagement through suspense. Her use of individual instruments to show the range and variations available to anyone keen to explore was refreshingly inclusive. During this performance a Tam Tam was brought from silence to a wall of sound and return in a perfect arc using the resonance of the metal. This manipulation of steel and sound was both an enduring and uplifting experience, at the end I felt the same as I do when I cycle to the top of a mountain.
Weird, strange, with people climbing in and out of orifices in offices is the short version. The due to be demolished ex-government offices were turned into a series of tripped out environments and performance spaces. The performance areas were cleverly separated sound spaces so bands and Djs could be playing within metres of each other as the crow flies (who takes a crow to an after party) without you even being aware there was a performance waiting around the next corner. Fomo is neither adequately described in words nor pictures only in experiences - go to it.
One word - Fierce
Some more words – Check out her work it is beautiful and brutal.
It’s hard to get good help these days.
The team at Mona has always been great and this year this was no exception. Discussions with staff were great as they saw the bigger picture of treating guests well for the whole state. Personally I think this kind of exceptional hospitality should be the norm. Whilst Tassie tourism and service is improving, during recent travels to a new cycling hotspot left me feeling we still have a way to go.
Boy in a bubble
The Flaming Lips were the main headline attraction for many and Wayne Coyne and the Flaming Lips circus were in full swing. The performance was graced by Wayne journeying in to the crowd in a bubble whilst continuing to perform. Luckily the bubble and masses of lighting and pyrotechnics were able get here which meant we weren’t deprived of the full business. Additionally anyone who came along just to satisfy their fetish for being in close proximity to inflatable LSD induced creations was not left wanting as all Mr Coyne’s special friends also made the second ferry.
Fuck it is so good to listen to a Dj and producer that can still come up with fresh stuff 30 years down the track. What I mean by this is there is also no hint of the formulaic or ‘current’ sounds, showing that being progressive can still be the real deal if you are individual and original. My old-man whinge is that so much electronic music is created by temporary air-time anomalies who keep it “fresh” by following the fresh sounds bandwagon. It’s not fresh if everyone is doing it.
Mirel Wagner and Mike Noga were both fantastic performances and I have found some new additions to my playlist. Mirel’s performance in the Nolan gallery was sublime. Mike Noga being urged by the crowd to continue a melancholic journey was something quite special, he asked the audience where they were at and responded. I had only previously been aware of Mike as part of the Drones so his solo performances were new experiences for me. As solo performer this guy is the king of atmosphere.
Smiles for miles
The audience were great and for an event stacked with avant-garde conceptual works it was a very non-serious crowd that still showed diligent appreciation and respect for works and performances that might not have been their bag. To me the space felt free of the classism or elitism that sometimes pervades events with high art concept agendas.
Punter’s wish list
It was the festival curator who once said to me “Anyone that doesn’t listen to feedback doesn’t deserve the success they are capable of”. Here are some of my observations.
Take me to the river….
Well that’s the plan but there were a few people who complained that they weren’t allowed/able to access the ferry for their scheduled departure time of an evening when the festival performances had finished. I wondered when hearing this from a few people whether or not a priority ticket system for those with bookings at the rooftop might be the solution or if it was a capacity issue for the Ferry. It seemed to be mainly a problem on the Friday night so it might have been resolved.
We had superb weather and the Mofo guys had a water feature to cool down and supplied sunscreen, there is also an installation as part of the Heavy Metal series of works which also provides shade in a really cool way using old oyster baskets. I thought this kind of idea expanded on to provide more shade would be good.
The final main stage performances were happening each day whilst it was still fairly light. I am sure this would be a licensing issue for the event permit. But man it would be good to have the full lighting glory of the Flaming Lips and DJ Krush. Although going past 10.00pm may have pissed of several thousand neighbours.
Save the last dance for me….
Some people felt the last performance at Mona, Arthur Russel Instrumentals would have been better earlier on the last day and for the festival to have finished on site with someone with the intensity of Kate Tempest. My initial thoughts were the same until I gave into the more laid-back sounds. This meant I could pass out on the grass and chill before heading off to the last Fomo and I guess that’s the option for people who want to finish the 3 days on a high. So I am 50/50 on this one I wasn’t sure at first but soon settled in to chilling out with last performance at the museum.
Weighing up my Mofo experience I think that it is one of the most interesting and diverse festivals with a rhythm and atmosphere that is coming of age. The Curator, Brian Ritchie, is obsessed with the interesting spaces music has that are outside of our normal insight and gathers artists for Mofo that he thinks will explore those spaces. Allowing sound to challenge our relationship to the world around and within us is something I take away from the festival every year. The Mona team are highly skilled at bringing it all together and manage an enormous undertaking. I often hear people refer to how much money David Walsh puts into the museum and Mofo which is of course significant but this focus misses the personal energy contribution that goes into the vision of doing such an event.
I am sure that if they decide to keep the festival based at Mona they will be working out parking, Mona ferry scenarios and other logistic tweaking, as they have always seemed into progression. I highly recommend this ever evolving gig. Even if high art tea ceremonies and meditation chairs aren’t your thing it’s one hell of a party. It will always be different.
For anyone that hasn’t been here are some suggestions:
1. Go with an open mind, whatever the festivals incarnation will be next year it will be different from other events including previously held Mofos.
2. Bring a brollie for shade.
3. Pace yourself and or take Monday and Tuesday off.
4. Watch some acts you think you will not be interested in, you might find yourself getting an unexpected experience or at least confirm your existing biases about where you draw your own art wank line.
5. The onsite food options are good and the inclusion of external vendors provides a good range of food and pricing. Although there are onsite ATM’s taking some cash is handy as not all the stall holders are EFTPOS jiggy.
6. Get a Fomo pass early; they sell out quick.
7. There are also many other events that are held outside the museum some are included in your festival ticket some are not some are even free. These often sell out so scope out the schedule and book early if find something appealing.
8. Be nice to your mum.
LAST YEAR on Tasmanian Times ...