With Groovin The Moo cancelled, artists lined up for regional music festival forced to find other alternatives

With Groovin The Moo cancelled, artists lined up for regional music festival forced to find other alternatives
  • PublishedMay 13, 2024

The cancellation of this year’s Groovin The Moo festival has resulted in many overseas artists scrapping entire lengths of their Australian tours and left up-and-coming talent to scrambling to find alternatives in keeping their music dreams alive.

One of Australia’s biggest music festivals, Groovin The Moo was expected to take place in Bunbury this Saturday, but organisers pulled the plug in mid-February, citing poor ticket sales.

The event is one in a slew of music festivals that have been cancelled across the country this year, disappointing thousands of regional music fans.

For new artists the event is considered an opportunity to break into the Australian music scene.

The ABC recently checked in with some of those on the bill to see how they were coping with the fallout of the cancellation.

A moody atmospheric photo of festival goers in a paddock
Thousands attended the festival in Bunbury last year.(ABC South West WA: Sam Tomlin)

‘A real low, real quick’

Up-and-coming rapper Chiggz from East Coast Brotherhood (ECB) said he felt over the moon when he found out he would be performing at the festival this year.

“Ecstatic … it was a big achievement,” he said.

Chiggz sits in front of JK-47 at a dinner table, both facing the camera. Chiggz wears a beanie and black jacket.
Chiggz (right), with rapper JK-47, says he was gutted when the festival was cancelled.(Supplied)

But it did not take long before the excitement came crashing down once organisers decided to cancel the event for 2024.

“[I was] just gutted really. On a real high and then a real low … real quick,” he said.

Singer Cloe Terare said she first found out through social media that the event was no longer going ahead.

A young woman with long, dark hair, holding a burning match in her mouth.
Singer Cloe Terare was due to appear at the festival.(Supplied)

“I saw a post on Instagram and I thought it might have been fake news. So I didn’t actually think anything of it,” she said.

“It’s exhausting to build up your artist project and try your best in everything you do, and then you get a really big opportunity like that and then just as quickly, it goes away.”

With no festival for either act to perform at, both were forced to look for alternatives, with Chiggz acknowledging not many show opportunities had arisen.

A low shot of grass and footy posts in the distance
Hay Park in Bunbury where Groovin The Moo would have been held this weekend remains empty of marquees and stages.(ABC South West WA: Andrew Williams)

What about the others?

Since the cancellation, nine out of 12 of the foreign acts on the line-up have avoided travelling to Australia or rescheduled their performances.

Overseas artists including Armani White, Claire Rosinkranz, GZA & The Phunky Nomads, Jessie Reyez, Meduza, Mura Masa, The Kooks and Kenya Grace have all had to cancel their trips down under.

Canadian act The Beaches as well as UK act Melanie C have scheduled shows on the east coast in place of Groovin The Moo.

Home-grown acts including The Rions, San Cisco, The Jungle Giants, Jet, Alison Wonderland, Hot Dub Time Machine and The Grogans have all put on separate, smaller shows instead of touring with the festival.

A shot of Groovin The Moo 2019 in Bendigo
 Groovin The Moo attracted strong crowds in 2019.(Supplied: Mackenzie Sweetnam)

Why do festivals keep getting cancelled?

Tom Lowndes, also known as Hot Dub Time Machine, was due to play at this year’s event and has previous experience working in the festival business.

He said the issue lay with the business model of festivals, as well as rising costs.

“When the line-up for [Groovin The Moo] was put out, a lot of people were like … ‘Where’s these huge top-line overseas artists that can sell out a festival?'” he said.

“The answer is they [festival organisers] just can’t afford them.”

A man, two children and dog around a vinyl DJ deck in their kitchen smiling
Hot Dub Time Machine, aka Tom Lowndes, will this weekend live-stream a performance from his kitchen.(Supplied)

The Sydney-based DJ said competition with overseas music festivals, as well as the strength of the Australian dollar, also affected artists’ decisions to travel here.

“Currency and just the sheer size of overseas festivals means that they can offer a huge amount of money,” he said.

“It’s very hard to go to an overseas artist and say, ‘Will you perform for a pay cut?’ because no one likes performing for a pay cut.”

Instead of performing on-stage in front of thousands this weekend, Lowndes will perform a live-stream from his kitchen at home.


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