Infectious Grooves – Byron Bay Bluesfest [Live Review]

Review and pictures: JD Garrahy 

Day 5 of Byron Bay Bluesfest 2024. There’s weary heads, tired bodies, and parents that appear so done that it’s hard to believe anyone actually had the energy for the final day.

Throughout the day, we have been treated to the likes of Little Quirks, Jerome Williams, Tim Finn and The Blind Boys of Alabama, all phenomenal performers in their own right, but you all know why I’ve brought you all along for this ride. The one and only Infectious Grooves. There is no-one better suited to close out such a huge 5 day event than these guys.

The lights dim, but never extinguish, and it’s not too long before 3 masked Cyco clowns run around on the stage to thunderous applause. As Jay Weinberg kicks the beat into gear, we are more than ready to throw ourselves into maximum funkified overdrive for this entire set. You want Infectious Grooves, that’s EXACTLY what you’re going to get. Rob Trujillo, Dean Pleasants and Dave Kushner all take the stage and launch full stick into These Freaks Are Here To Party and follow it seamlessly with Turtle Wax. When you have Mike Muir fronting any band, it’s hard not to just become infected with his positive energy.

Now, I have to admit that I’ve always been more of a fan of Suicidal Tendencies (be still my punk rock heart), this collective of master musicians brings that same feeling into the funkadelic goodness and perfectly demonstrate why they landed the closing spot on the Bluesfest bill. There’s nothing you can do at an Infectious show but just let the music take you over. I don’t think i saw one person not moving or at least tapping their toes for the entirety of the set.

Punk It Up and Therapy are preceded by Muir’s, well, let’s call them “motivational words” about not giving a shit what anyone thinks and to be true to yourself. Screw Tim Robbins, I’ll take Mikes words of wisdom any day of the week. As we get a groove driven version of David Bowies ‘Fame’, the crowd is in fine form to accept their fate as to what we’re about to be gifted. The three song powerhouse of ‘Funny Farm’, ‘Violent & Funky’ and ‘Boom Boom Boom’ really gets the crowd in high spirits and with everyone moving in unison, it’s the sort of music that brings people together, while still raising that middle finger in the air to authority.

Closing out their set with ‘Borracho’ and ‘Infectious Grooves’, it’s plain to see why after such a long hiatus, they came back bigger and better than before. Whether it’s Mikes unique vocals, Dean or Dave’s intricate solos and riff work, Robs slappin bass solos (so damn good to witness live) or Jays metal inspired skin striking, it’s no wonder why they managed to bring a solid fan base of punks over to another genre of music. It’s not about the attitude, it’s about what the music does to your soul.

Now, if you want an encore, and one that feels COMPLETELY out of place at a Blues and Roots festival, we were treated to 3 of Suicidal Tendencies finest jams ‘Subliminal’, ‘Send Me Your Money’ and ‘Pledge Your Allegiance’ round out the set, with Rob’s son Ty joining them on stage to help his old man out with bass duties, this is an amazing moment and I’m sure even the people who aren’t fans, could appreciate 2 generations of amazing bassists displaying their talents effortlessly.

If you’ve never been to a Bluesfest, step out of your comfort zone and get along to the next one. Even if it’s not your jam, I guarantee you’ll walk away as a fan of someone on the bill. Until next year Byron Bay, the vibe has been, well, Infectious.