Music

But Seriously, Why Are The Wombats Still On Every Australian Festival Line-Up?

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The Wombats

Yesterday morning, Canberra’s Spilt Milk festival dropped their mammoth 2018 line-up. Topping the list of names is ‘This Is America‘ hitmaker Childish Gambino, who’ll be joined in Canberra by dance don RL Grime, Compton rapper YG, and a stack of top-shelf local acts including Vera Blue, Manu Crook$, Hatchie, Peking Duk, and Hayden James.

It’s a bumper edition, but there’s one act on the bill that has caused a few raised eyebrows: we speak, of course, of Liverpudlian trio The Wombats.

The Wombats are already heading our way in July to play Splendour in the Grass and Spin Off festival (plus a heap of sideshows), so to come back only a few months later for November’s Spilt Milk is a very tight turnaround by international artist standards.

But then again, this is what The Wombats do, and what they’ve always done. Since they broke out with single ‘Let’s Dance To Joy Division’ in 2007, the guitar slingers have played almost every Australian festival on offer. Usually multiple times.

Their 2018 Splendour gig will be their third appearance at the festival, having also played there in 2008 and 2015. In 2015 alone they toured the country three times to support their album Glitterbug, stopping off early in the year for a promo tour, before playing Splendour and then Falls Festival later in the year.

All up, that year they played 11 Australian shows in under 12 months.

They’ve also played regional bash Groovin’ the Moo multiple times — most recently in 2017, when they also squeezed in shows at the Sydney Opera House to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of A Guide To Love, Loss & Desperation.

Hell, they’ve even played the local festivals that don’t exist anymore: Parklife, in 2010, and Future Music Festival, in 2012. Between appearing at those two festivals, they also came back for a solo headlining tour of the country in October 2011 — because why the fuck not?

Out of the four major Australian festivals currently in operation (that’s Splendour, Falls, Laneway, and Groovin’ The Moo), The Wombats have played at all of them twice — bar one.

Major Festival Appearances Since 2011

Major Festivals That Have/Haven’t Booked The Wombats Since 2011

By the time 2018 closes out, the Wombats will have played over 37 headlining sets in Australia since the start of their career.

It’s not hard to see why festivals fall over themselves to book the band: their live sets are sustained explosions of sweaty fun, often pulling the biggest crowds of whatever event they happen to be playing. They also have some truly banging tunes, and drunk people really love dancing to ‘Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves)’.

It’s not just within the festival circuit that The Wombats assert their dominance: they’re frequent players in the Hottest 100, with ‘Tokyo’ being their highest entry at #8 in the 2010 countdown. Their last two albums have landed in the top five of the ARIA charts, with Glitterbug hitting #2 and Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life peaking at #5.

It’s clear we have a love affair with the band — not unlike our strange obsession with popstar Pink — but the latest round of festival bookings does beg the question: have we reached Wombats saturation?

We love dancing to ‘Let’s Dance To Joy Division’ as much as everyone else, but it gets a little less exciting if we’re doing it every four months.

Jules LeFevre is Junkee’s Music Writer. She is on Twitter