By Peter Vawser
Months of preparation and countless hours of negotiation between organising committee, district council, community clubs, major sponsors, minor sponsors, audio technicians and performers were done. All that remained was to hear the final weather forecast to ensure that all was in readiness. And what a weather forecast it was. Hot, Hot, Hot! But not as hot as the awesome weekend was to be itself. The 2nd annual Riverstock Music Festival was on, and it was to be bigger and better and hotter than any of the previous joint ventures between Warriors SA and the Moorook and District Community Club had ever been.
Early in the week, the tiny community of Moorook in SA’s sunny Riverland became a buzzing hive of activity as the peaceful riverfront picnic and camping ground began to be transformed into a 2000 plus capacity outdoor music venue. Security fencing was erected and marquees blossomed under shady trees as the majestic River Murray casually passed by, ever watchful over proceedings. Kassulke’s classic tray top truck was strategically positioned to become Acoustic Stage 2, take advantage of shade and have a commanding view overlooking the venue from the opposite end of the main stage while the “pièce de resistance”, the magnificent Main Stage unfolded from its transport and grew and grew and grew until it was 10 metres wide and 5 metres deep. Thursday night calm descended but the riverfront rested uneasily in anticipation of what was to come next morning.
There was to be no bad luck this Friday the thirteenth, and from early in the day while Trevor Philby installed his sound system for Stage 2, the main stage crew hustled into action rigging stage lighting before the full roof was hoisted into position and the whole thing got locked down onto four 1000 litre water tanks. This rig was not going to blow away! Then securing enough PA speaker boxes to build a small home, with stage sound mixing desk at stage left, front of house mixing desk sheltering from the sun in its purpose built gazebo, hundreds of metres of cabling and power lines rolled out, pantech semi trailers positioned at rear of stage to provide secure gear storage and stage access and a dedicated green room in the form of a small circus tent erected immediately behind the stage, by mid-afternoon they were ready for the backline amps and drum kit to grace the stage. And of-course, no professional sound stage is complete with a drum riser and StageRight Solutions made sure that one of ample proportion was provided.
Adding to the logistical challenge of Riverstock ’09 was the fact that as well as the Main Stage and Stage 2 in the outdoor venue, provision was made to transform the Moorook Club building into the “after Concert Bash” venue for those revellers who would just need to party on after licensing requirements forced the outdoor venue to close at midnight. So the “Warriors SA” PA with a bank of additional backline amps and our faithful midnight blue Premier drum kit was also set up and ready to go in the Club.
Back to the main stage, another drum kit was provided by Holden Hill Music. This one being a brand-spanking-straight-out-of-the-box-new Yamaha “Stage Custom”. With brand new heads she was tensioned up and tuned in. (Special thanks to Lance Gum’s brother Harry, who provided his pillow from their camper-bus to ensure that the new bass drum sound was to be just right! Actually, Lance commandeered the pillow before Harry had arrived, so Harry didn’t actually know where his pillow had gone. So, thanks again Harry!)
And so, by 6.30pm on Friday, the first of our 42 degree days for the weekend, all was in readiness for the first act of Riverstock ’09!
6 Bands took to the stage on Friday night each paying tribute to performers who were part of the original Woodstock Music and Art Fair 40 years ago.
First up the swelling crowd was blown away with the power and passion of “Holding Company”. These guys and girl really made us believe that Janice Joplin was alive and pumping out her hits right before our eyes and ears.
“GTR” transferred attention to Stage 2 with the first of 24 sensational acoustic sets. Then “The Jackets” took to Main Stage with their covers of “The Who” electrifying the already excited gathering. “Lys and Josh” on the acoustic stage wooed their audience with beautiful guitar and vocal providing a perfect lead in for “Ratatat Revival” and their Creedence Clearwater Revival” show. With costuming to match the theme they were really rockin’ and rollin’ on the river.
Look around, time for “Tush” on the Acoustic Stage before “La Crème” turned up the heat again with classics from Jimi Hendrix, Cream and Ten Years After. “Venus and Mars” shined bright on Stage 2 with velvet harmonies blending into the riverfront night.
But, before there was time to take off your coat (but at still 30 degrees, there were not a lot of coats to be seen) we were attending back to Stage 1 as “Rock the Casbah”, wigs and all, crashed their Hitchcock railway straight thru the bathroom window while keeping their hat on with an awesome tribute to Joe Cocker. Back on the Acoustic Stage “Brompton Blues Band” showed us how the blues is raw and beautiful all at the same time. Then, final act of the night in the outdoor venue for Friday, the dynamic 7 piece “Sultana Bunch” delighted all present with the infectious latin rhythms of classic Carlos Santana, providing a fitting end for the 950 or so in the audience on day 1 of Riverstock ’09.
But it wasn’t the end! The after concert bash was just about to start in the Club. “The Jackets”, still warm from their earlier performance rocked the crowd of 200 or so in the Club with a selection of classics til 1.30am and then handed over to a jam band of members from La Crème and Moose Bumps with a couple of friends joining in for good measure until closing time at 2.30am.
Somewhat tired and with some a little emotional, the gathered throng departed to their respective sanctuaries to spend the rest of the hours of darkness before it would all start again with the morning light!
Day 2, Saturday.
R’09 continued with an absolute full day. Due to kick off with an acoustic jam session at just 10.15am, Stage 1 Manager Kev Neeson was about early looking for an egg and bacon sandwich to kick start the day. Catered for by members of the local Moorook Bowling club, breakfast was accomplished and the day was set to go.
Saturday would see general performances by a wide selection of Warriors SA bands, some long established and some created as projects for no other reason than to have fun playing music live at Riverstock and including Junior Warriors band “Unleashed” who had the opening spot on the Main Stage at 10.45am, and local tean band “Shattered Glass” who put on an awesome set. Interspersed with acoustic acts on Stage 2, the ever growing crowd was kept enthralled throughout the day. Check out the Riverstock 2009 Program for a full list of all 28 performances on Saturday.
From 6.30, the Main Stage exploded back into a frenzy with the tribute bands again strutting their stuff for all. And in spite of the high number on the thermometer (which was able to be managed with sensible precautions and thanks to some truly inventive local genius who put together a magical spray misting archway that, as attested to by literally hundreds of devotees who capered repeatedly through its inviting centre, reduced the feeling of heat by about 100 degrees,) attendance on Saturday approached 1900! It was truly awesome to look out from the Main Stage over that fantastic crowd. Everyone was enjoying themselves! Check our Facebook page and website Photo Album for pictures.
And after midnight, we let it all hang down again across in the Club for the after concert bash. This time with “Rock the Casbah” playing their best party set with a couple of Cockers thrown in for good measure! Then “La Crème” and “La Moose” combined to take the show through til closing time, literally leaving the packed house begging for more. But closing time is closing time and at 2.30am the clock on the wall said it was time to go. However, while some welcomed the peace and solitude of bed, a significant contingent of diehards found their way on board the Big Houseboat moored just down from the Riverfront venue. 2.30 meant nothing to these professionals. 3.00am gave way to 4.00am and on they went, jamming on their acoustics and sharing early morning refreshments and the wisdom of the world with each other until the Sunday sun started to wearily peep through the night sky and suggest that a new day was about to begin.
Day 3, Sunday.
All was quiet by about 6.00am on Sunday morning, and with the experiences of Saturday tucked away for future reference, nothing much happened for a while.
But, with the sun in the sky and a fresh bacon sarni’ in hand, the Stage and Sound Crew sprang back into action to reset for the final day of Riverstock 2009. General performances were to be the order of the day again punctuated with sets on the acoustic stage. Junior band “Unleashed” had the responsibility of warming up the Main Stage at 11.00am before handing over to “Take This”, “Rollin’ Fog”, “Yeah Baby”, “Riverbound”, “White Noise” and a the final performance for the festival by the “Warriors Backing Band”.
And then at about 5.30pm, after seeing more than 3000 people across the weekend, the final chord was struck and cymbal crashed. And it was time for satisfied but weary stage crews to begin the job of dismantling the rig. This was arguably one of our most successful joint ventures that Warriors SA has participated in and paves the way for more, bigger and better events in the future. Absolute thanks have to go to the Warriors SA Events Management Unit, the Moorook and District Community Club, all the sponsors, StageRight Solutions, Trevor Philby, all the volunteers from local clubs and Warriors SA and especially to the 3000 strong crowd who made the event such a fantastic experience for all the performers.
Plans are already being developed for Riverstock ‘10 so keep November next year free!