Cobram, Australia (Peaches and Cream Festival)


On the way to Cobram on Jan. 25, I imagined the Peaches and Cream Festival to be just a small gathering of country bumpkins who didn't know what the words mosh or rock meant. It took 3 1/2 hours to get to Cobram from Melbourne (where the Big Day Out was on the same day which made me think even less people were going to be at Cobram). The ticket to the Peaches and Cream Festival entitled you to free camping near the gig at Thompsons Beach along a river, and when we drove past the camping area I was shocked. There were people and tents everywhere. I was told the next day that 8,500 people were expected at the gig. It was really hot as well, and we saw people swimming in the river.

The gates opened at 4 p.m. and the live music started at 5. The bands scheduled to perfom were Automatic, The Fauves, DEF FX, Powderfinger, Spiderbait and silverchair. The Fauves didn't show so a Triple J Unearthed band called Grinspoon played instead. Spiderbait and silverchair swapped positions in the lineup since Spiderbait played at the Big Day Out and Finley (where they come from) was a neighbouring town.

The stage was set up on the sand, and that was not a good move. Have you ever tried moshing in sand? Dust was flying everywhere. The pit was really roomy and hardly anyone was crowdsurfing. I looked occasionally at the gates to the backstage area. There were young girls and guys wanting a peek at sliverchair, and the band members would walk past sometimes and the kids would wave at them motioning them to the gates.

Powderfinger came on and ROCKED! Bernard (the singer) said silverchair was next. I saw some girls with cool Freak T-shirts on but they weren't being sold there. They were orange and had Snaz (the tattooed guy) on the front and it said FREAK on the back. silverchair hit the stage and ripped straight into Slave, dragging out the intro as much as possible with huge gaps in between the opening chords. Daniel moved around as if he was dancing with his guitar. He was wearing a yellow T-shirt with white pants, Ben was in shorts and Chris a T-shirt and shorts.

Next was Leave Me Out and then Findaway, and I moved into the mosh pit and got pretty close to the front. "This is a new song," Daniel announced. "They played it on the radio and they weren't supposed to." Their guitar tech [Bailey Holloway] came on stage with a guitar and got ready. Daniel said, "The guy on stage is our sexual guidence counsellor" and they played Abuse Me.

There was a guy on the side of the stage with a Freak Show T-shirt on, it had the lobster guy on the front. Pure Massacre, Roses and Suicidal Dream followed. By now my Converse All Stars were full of sand (I always wondered why they put the holes right down the bottom, I guess it's so we can enjoy ourselves jumping around with sand in our shoes). Pop Song was next and the surfing action was poor so i decided to liven it up. Yes, I went up, around a bit and then landed back where i started. Strangely enough I still had my sunnies and all my money.

Daniel played Cemetery and it started to rain, the lighting mage it look really cool too. A nice guy offered for me to sit on his shoulders and take photos. Some drunk idiots were complaining that Cemetery was too slow. Daniel played a new white Paul Reed Smith -- no stickers, yet!

Tomorrow was next but Daniel's guitar was out of tune so we got the punk rock version (or at least thats what Daniel said). He also introduced Tomorrow as a "new song." The crowd loved it and sang along. Faultline was another crowd pleaser and Daniel stood on the drum riser for a while. I heard some people say The Door sounds country-ish when they played it. The response to Freak was amazing! It's only been played on radio for 26 days and everyone knew the words (at the last silverchair gig I was at I was the only one singing). My favourite, No Association, was played and Daniel mentioned about having a sing-a-long. I immediately thought of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, but Ben said he didn't want to sing so Daniel launched into Billie Jean (just the chorus) when he stopped the people next to me yelled out for him to keep going but he didn't hear them. Madman and Israel's Son were last. At the end of Israel's Son Daniel ran around on stage, straight for Chris and he just about tripped. Chris kinda ran around too. Daniel played with his pedals as Ben and Chris left the stage and Daniel soon followed.


Kerrang! magazine

First it was Nirvana live From The Muddy Banks Of The Wishkah, now it's Nirvana Jr live from the sandy banks of the Murray -- a broad river that winds through the dusty heart of Australia. silverchair take to the stage as the sun sets over the tall gum trees. Tonight, they're on a high. The trio's new single, Freak, has just entered the chart at No. 1. They are hot stuff -- especially here in their own backyard, where their first album frogstomp was recently certified quadruple platinum.

The sun-fried crowd are in a highly excitable state as the 'chair open up with Slave, the lead-off track from the new album Freak Show. As the trio lock into its huge heavy grunge riff, a mud-caked Nike trainer whizzes past bassist Chris Joannou's ear and thuds into the backline. Chris coolly sniffs the air and doesn't miss a note.

Of course, most eyes are on Daniel Johns. Thin as a cigarette and full of energy, the singer is so like a young Kurt it's unbelievable. Behind Daniel and Chris, drummer Ben Gillies is a blur of flailing hair and flying splintered sticks.

There are no frills about silverchair. They simply plug in and blast through their best tunes. More than few owe a debt to Kurt, but when silverchair kick into Freak, it seems petty to just dismiss it as a second-rate Nirvana copy -- better simply to enjoy it for the fine rock song it is. Likewise, the acoustic Cemetery sounds cheesy on record, but when Daniel plays it alone, it sounds like another hit single to follow frogstomp fave Tomorrow. The 'chair finish triumphantly with Israel's Son, their biggest song and their most powerful. As the riff accelerates and Daniel screams, "Put your hands in the air!", 16,000 palms salute the glory of silverchair.

Daniel, Chris and Ben all turn 18 this year. In every sense, silverchair are coming of age.

[Thanks to Daniel Young for the transcript.]