Adelaide often seems to get the short end of the stick when it comes to festival tours, with its east coast brethren often chuckling at their lack of big shows. However, after the inaugural Spinoff festival, there’s no doubt those Radelaidians will be the ones laughing now.
With a lineup reading like a triple j listener’s wet dream, the standard was set incredibly high from the get go only to be met and then surpassed throughout the day.
Unlike most one-day festivals around Australia, Spinoff was held inside, away from the dangers of predicted rain. This put me off initially and was drawing up images of blue-light discos and school formals from my country high school heyday. Once those memories faded away all that remained was functioning sound equipment and an uninhibited stage presence.
Unlike other outdoor festivals, where the sounds can get lost in the elements, artists like Lana Del Rey and Last Dinosaurs could be appreciated without having to compete with the impending doom of a gust of wind or rainstorm. Furthermore, because the festival was held inside, each performance had more of an intimate atmosphere. It was almost like seeing eleven individual gigs in a row.
First set I got to catch was Messrs. For boys who haven’t been around for very long and only recently garnered the attention of triple j, they certainly made it look like they were old dogs. Hailing from Adelaide they definitely had a home crowd advantage that only made for more excitement on and off stage. When they churned out ‘Moroccan Boy’, more than a few feet in the room left the ground.
The Rubens, who have seemingly overnight become the band to see, brought a heavier rock twist to their songs. In contrast to this rock vibe, frontman Zac Margin was draped in what can only be described as a shredded country mess. However these are bands, not models; and I’m a music reviewer, not a fashion critic. Much to the delight of the audience they whipped out ‘Lay it Down’ with a lot of weight behind the vocals which definitely added another layer to their live performance.
Similarly DZ Deathrays, who have managed to grip onto a niche thrash-pop, whipped up a storm on stage. Jumping around like no one’s business and blowing a couple of ear drums in the process – they pumped out a massive set which left nothing to be desired. In the same vein as the Brissy boys, <em>NME</em>’s golden children, Bleeding Knees Club, punched out a powerful set tempting the sun-seeking hipster audience into the darkness.
It was at this stage in the night that things started to get a little weird and the lack of sunshine for some of the audience members in the front was starting to stir something in the water. While walking between the main stage and the silent disco that was cleverly sectioned off as a private garden near the back of the venue, it wasn’t uncommon to see couples getting their mack on in the middle of the dance floor. I’m not talking standing, I’m talking doing the horizontal line dance. Full on, going for it. Each to their own though, right?
With the sexual promiscuity out of the way, Yacht Club DJs did what they do beste. Their set has definitely changed a fair bit from one of their earlier festival appearances at Falls a few years back. Spinning some dirtier dance tunes rather than upbeat pop they’re still improving bucket loads. Then came the trees…
Frontwoman Samantha Urbani of Friends took some creative liberty with the Spinoff stage. Rounding up six, sizable potted plants and scattered them across the stage which instantly transformed it for the better. Tiptoeing around, she crafted a mesmerizing spell with her astonishing vocal range. Equally astonishing was her ability to fling herself into the audience. Not too long after ‘Friend Crush’ she was surfing the audience and not shying away from getting amongst the pit. This was probably the performance of the day and such a great way for the band to make their debut in Australia. Not to be upstaged however, Band of Skulls channelled the groove from their appearance at Splendour just two years back. ‘I Know What I Am’ is still going round and round in my head and the slashing guitar cut through the room like a knife.
Then it all went quiet, well, for a second -as the crowd anxiously waited for Lana Del Rey. In a scene not dissimilar to the Queen’s visit to Aus the fellow bands, publicists, and photographers parted, making way for her royal musical self. From the first note it was clear this was going to be an incredible performance.
Since her gig on Saturday Night Live, poor Lana has had a curse hanging over her head. However, this lady was more than confident waltzing around the stage and even popping down to the audience for a quick hello and to be given a bouquet of roses by one dedicated fan. Not only was her performance amazing, but the light really created an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ atmosphere. Soft yellows and calming blues shimmered on her radiant skin creating an aura around her.
Going from full-on spotlight, to tiny globes rotating over the stage – whoever came up with that lighting is pure genius. With only one album to her name, it was great to hear ‘Summer Time Sadness’, ‘Blue Jeans’ and ‘Video Games’ all in the one fantastic debut gig. Shortly after Lana, Kimbra bounced onto the stage in her usual joyous fashion sporting yet another confetti style dress. She never disappoints and this was no exception. Her vocals are perfect and her stage presence keeps on getting better.
Spinoff was an awesome one-day festival. The best performances definitely came from the two bands debuting their show for an Aussie audience (Friends and Lana Del Rey); however the talent all around was palpable. Perhaps now Adelaide will no longer be known as the town where ‘all that weird murder-y shit happens’, but instead the home of Spinoff – one of our favourite new Australian festivals.
– Jack CraneWrite a Letter to the Editor