Spin Off Festival 2019

We all know Adelaide flies under the radar: we are often defined by the Malls Balls or our filtered water. Although we aren’t considered to be the artistic hub of Australia, little old Adelaide is home to one of the most vibrant art scenes in our country. The proof is in the festival pudding. The most recent example: Spin Off Festival 2019.

For those who are not familiar with this festival, Spin Off states that it brings ‘the cream of the Splendour in the Grass line up to Adelaide, curating a concentrated super dose of sideshow revelry’. It was a concentrated super dose of talent, but not for a second did this festival feel like a sideshow.

We were blessed with a divine day. In the midst of what has been a cool Adelaide winter, the sun showed its face, the air was still, and it was blue skies as far as the eye could see. The space was decked out with food trucks that bordered grassed areas, and a KFC tent was providing free food on the hour. Transmission – who run Adelaide’s regular indie music nights – set up a dance floor that was buzzing well into the evening. Our showground was filled with so many beautiful, energised, and groovy people.

The day kicked off with Kian, our young hip-hop, indie singer who melts hearts left, right and centre. The Australian rapper Kwame, known for his performance energy, was unmatchable on stage. Around lunch time, Ruby Fields brought waves of crazed fans through the gate to see her rock out with her appealing angsty vibe. Mallrat followed – wearing the most fabulous red, frilly two piece– and drew us in with her sweet nature and infectious liveliness. The flow didn’t stop! The surf and garage rock duo Hockey Dad impressed, backed with artistic on-screen visuals, Wolf Alice gave us the music for a solid, high energy dance session, and Ocean Alley, as the modern reggae fusion group they are, did not disappoint their devoted fans. Ball Park Music were next and have established themselves as irreplaceable in the Australian music scene, always pleasing with their honest, upbeat tunes. Catfish and the Bottlemen were the penultimate act and, from what I heard, were a huge influence on the large attendance at this year’s festival. Boy, are these guys loved, and their music is what I like to call ‘boogie friendly’ – it’s awfully hard not to get into it. And then there was Childish Gambino. The big one. What talent. What spectacle. His dramatic display was captivating, and I have very rarely been a part of a crowd so enthralled by a performer. Gambino will be spoken about for generations, and Adelaide was stoked to have him here.

The thing about any festival, is there is a strong sense of community. For however long a festival lasts – a single day or an entire weekend – festival goers get to know the space and all its nooks and crannies: a festival and its set up grows to feel like home in a mere few hours. People bond over a shared experience, and sweaty bodies getting down for a groove creates a unique intimacy. But in our city, I can’t help thinking that these festivals are even more close-knit. You could stand in a single spot in our showgrounds filled with thousands of humans, and bump into half of the people in your life. In the mosh, all you have to do is look both ways and you are guaranteed to lock eyes with a familiar face. It’s nice to think of this city, and the young people who go to these events, as an interlocked community.

Adelaide not only showed up for Spin Off, but we gave the national and international artists before us a bloody good time. Good on us!

 


Words by Michelle Wakim

Photograph by Stazi Markovich

 

A Nice Time to be Alive: Ruby Fields, San Cisco, and Ball Park Music live at the Thebby Theatre

On a mild Friday night in the bloody beautiful city of Adelaide, a keen crowd gathered to watch Ruby Fields, San Cisco and Ball Park Music at the Thebarton Theatre – a one off spectacle! Let me give you a rundown on the fabulous night it was.

A little side note before we get started: it was polo shirt night, meaning every performer was adorably dressed in a polo-shirt. Oh, the aesthetic!

We kicked off with a beauty, I had no idea Ruby Fields had such a following! The crowd was far larger than expected for any pre-show at the Thebby and we were well and truly taken by this groovy gal. We spent most of her set having a good old jive to her upbeat tunes, such as ‘I Want’ and ‘P-Plates’. Don’t get me wrong, there were also sensitive moments: I got a lump in my throat half way through Field’s performance of her most recent single, ‘Dinosaurs’ – a song about the simplicities of childhood. But really, Fields won us over the second she mentioned our beloved Hahndorf.

Next up was Jordi, Jen, Josh, and Scarlett, San Cisco were in the house! When debriefing with my buddies later in the night, we couldn’t help but notice how wonderfully unique San Cisco are; no other band are so brutally honest yet pleasurably palatable. Lyrics such as ‘why does it feel so good to be self-destructing again?’, ‘I want to be with you forever, but I need space, you should stay at your place’ and ‘if you’re going to break his heart, could you break it gently please?’ are about as real as it gets. However, the best part is that their music is somehow it is angst-free. The harsh truths hide behind fantastic guitar solos, Jordi’s high vocal tendencies and the up-beat tempo of their tunes. They featured some of their most recent works like ‘Hey Did I Do You Wrong?’ and ‘Slow-Mo’, alongside some original San Cisco such as ‘Fred Astaire’ and ‘Magic’, before finishing the set with ‘Too Much Time Together’. San Cisco speak to those in their early 20s in a way no other band can.

After all this excitement the crowd flocked to the bar to get some well-needed fluids into their system. A couple of Adelaide gems were spotted in the lobby, with the likes of Liam Stapleton, one half of the Triple J breakfast radio show, and Callum Hann, runner-up from MasterChef 2010, floating about. Oh Adelaide, you always see a familiar face.

For Ball Park Music, my friends and I decided to take a seat. This is the first time I have ever sat down at a concert – it had been a long day, we were hot and bothered and our feet hurt (we are only 21, I promise). So, we cushioned ourselves in the well air-conditioned seated section at the back of the Thebby with a dead-centre view of the stage. And I am so glad that this is how I experienced the magic of Ball Park Music.

There is something breathtaking about sitting back and watching a sea of people share emotional experiences through song. We saw the crowd hush, cheer, dance, and bop in unison. Ball Park Music are often taken for granted – they have been a consistently good band for the last decade. I honestly forgot how much I loved them until I saw them play in this environment. Their music had been the background to many significant moments for me in the last few years, and I hadn’t even noticed. I’m sure others came to this realisation as well. The melancholic nature of their lyrics, mixed with Sam Cromack’s calming yet energised familiar voice give you those tingling goose bumps.

I will admit I got emotional many times during their set, particularly listening to the crowd singing along to ‘Everything is Shit Except My Friendship With You’, ‘The Perfect Life Does Not Exist’ and ‘Exactly How You Are’. ‘It’s Nice to be Alive’ – possibly one of the most uplifting songs of our generation – met every expectation as a spotlight landed on Cromack and the crowd sounded out each word, loud and clear. They also offered sweet Adelaide a treat, finishing with a song which they hadn’t yet performed their tour: they belted out a phenomenal rendition of the Beatles classic, ‘Hey Jude’, which left me thinking that although the perfect life does not exist, this moment in this life comes pretty damn close.

I enthusiastically suggest that you get around all of these artists – they all encapsulate the most relatable of experiences through their music. They were the perfect trio, performing in a perfect venue, in a perfect city, to a practically perfect crowd. It is VERY nice to be alive.


Words and photography by Michelle Wakim.