GROOVIN' The Moo 2018 feels like a lifetime ago.
A time when the most pressing concern for music fans were navigating set clashes and coordinating their festival outfit.
One of the hottest acts on that April evening at the Maitland Showground was Melbourne dance-pop foursome Confidence Man.
The Moolin Rouge tent stage was packed to capacity to experience Confidence Man's quirky take on '90s electro-pop as frontwoman Janet Planet bounced around the stage in a glow-in-the-dark Madonna-style cone bra singing songs like Boyfriend (Repeat) and Out The Window.
It's a scene Confidence Man had become accustomed to across Australia and Europe - where they've performed at Rock en Seine (Paris), Primavera Sound (Barcelona) and Glastonbury (UK) - since they scored a surprise hit on triple j with Boyfriend (Repeat) in 2016.
The crowds only got bigger following their debut album Confident Music For Confident People, which provided a modern take on the Madchester sound of the late '80s and early '90s English electronic scene.
However, for the past 18 months Janet Planet (real name Grace Stephenson), co-frontman Sugar Bones (Aidan Moore) and their mysteriously masked bandmates Reggie Goodchild and Clarence McGuffie have been locked down in Melbourne.
It's a testament to the power of making a song, that you can actually sort yourself out of a situation.Aidan Moore, aka Sugar Bones
More than 260 days in lockdown is hardly the best atmosphere for writing party music.
But somehow Confidence Man found the inspiration to write and record their second album Tilt, due for release on April 1.
The latest taste from the album, Holiday, sees Confidence Man tuning into a hedonistic Ibiza sound which celebrates the eternal vacation.
"It's been a crazy year and a half here in Melbourne," Moore says, while travelling in an Uber after enjoying his first long lunch since the end of the latest lockdown.
"Because the four of us in the band are so open and honest with each other, even in the darkest time we can be there for each other.
"Beyond that, getting to the studio we wanted to make music that takes us beyond all this stuff in this situation.
"It's a testament to the power of making a song, that you can actually sort yourself out of a situation. We've managed to do that the four of us and that'll come through."
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Confidence Man's success in the electronic-pop realm is all the more incredible due to that fact the band initially began as a fun side project.
The four originally played in Brisbane-based indie-rock bands Moses Gunn Collective, Jungle Giants and The Belligerents. In August Stephenson got engaged to Jungle Giants frontman Sam Hales.
Their initial singles Boyfriend (Repeat) and Better Sit Down Boy were written with a rudimentary knowledge of electronic dance music and equipment.
Moore says the band has greatly progressed in recent years.
"The first album we were still quite naive and now we're still naive, but probably a little less so," he says.
"We've had a lot of time to experiment with different instruments and listen to a whole bunch of deeper dance music to get into our zone and that's coming through the music."
In some respects, the pandemic has been beneficial for Confidence Man.
While they've obviously missed the financial rewards of touring, the down time has given them space to refine their songwriting for Tilt.
"We basically had endless time to write so the album went through three different phases of what we thought it was gonna be," Moore says.
"As time stretched out we kept going back to the drawing board and defining and perfecting what we wanted to put out.
"The main thing in the middle of writing was it was such a dark time. We had to find the joy within the four of us in the studio and try to put that in the song, which was difficult.
"After days of trying that day in and day out we managed it and we were trying to capture the best euphoric feeling in the middle of a dark situation, and I think we managed to do that eventually."
With COVID restrictions easing and borders reopening, Confidence Man are perfectly poised to take full advantage of a rise in positivity in 2022.
They have a busy schedule throughout January and February in Australia before they return to their rapidly-expanding European fanbase on their biggest overseas tour.
Confidence Man are also considering a permanent move abroad.
"Down the line we'd definitely love to relocate to over there for a little bit," he says. "Maybe the UK, maybe Europe.
"For the meantime we're keen to tour here again until we get to that second phase. We're still warming up for the real world to start happening again, but all those things are on the horizon."
Confidence Man play at This That at Wickham Park on February 26 alongside Dune Rats, San Cisco, The Chats, Jack River, Mallrat, Illy, Crooked Colours, Hayden James, Client Liaison and many more.
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