Historically, the live music scene in Adelaide was forced into hibernation during winter. Frustrated musicians would struggle to get gigs and music lovers that left the comfort of their homes may have found themselves disappointed in the lack of a ‘scene’. But in 2016 Music SA changed that. We now have a live winter music festival aptly titled ‘Umbrella: Winter City Sounds’. This year we will have the opportunity to see over 300 local acts in 100 different venues. Music SA have curated this vibrant festival in the heart of winter held between 14 July-30 July 2017 to inspire local venues, musicians, and music lovers and to battle the adage that winter is all about the cold, and the rain, and the inside out umbrellas.
Its enterprising initiatives like this that proves why Adelaide has been granted the status of UNESCO City of Music. If you feel even the slightest urge to step out of your uggies and into your city of Adelaide you’ll see it reawakened. Yes, the rain falls but you won’t have to look hard for the myriad of hotspots dotted all across our vibrant city.
On Saturday 15 July 2017 the ‘Umbrella: Winter City Sounds’ hosted Adelaide’s very own electronic music festival ‘Futuresounds VII – Electronic Music Festival’ that was held at the Crown and Sceptre (308 King William Street, Adelaide). In collaboration with Fresh 92.7, Adelaide City Council, SAE Institute, and Headspace Adelaide, the Adelaide based electronic music collective Futuresounds organised an energetic one-night festival that showcases the best acts of Adelaide's electronic music scene.
Stepping out of the cold and into the Crown and Sceptre I was welcomed by two very vivacious, very glittery door peeps. I was given a brief explanation of how the festival is split into 3 stages, with staggered performance times so you can rove around, get a taste of it all, and not feel like you are missing any of the acts. To my delight I was given a free download card that contains a free sample of music from all the artists participating in tonight’s festival – what a nice gift!
This historic building lends itself well to a festival of this type. With its distinctive spaces, set far apart enough to not encounter too much musical bleed, each space was individually activated by an array of lighting and futuristic backdrops that heightened the effect of the music.
Being new to the art of electronic music I was excited to check out each space and get feel of the atmosphere. I venture up the narrow and windy stairs and into the SAE Beats Stage a sterile white room that is splattered with blue and pink colours from the disco ball. Behind the desk is Nox, a man wearing a gas mask, and self-described as producing the ‘most inconsistent electronic music you've ever heard’. The music is EDM (electronic dance music) and the crowd inside and on the balcony seems to be enjoying the chilled vibe.
Nox (Photo from Facebook)
Heading back down the stairs I step into the much smaller, intimate space that is the Headspace Alternative stage. This space has been curated by Headspace Adelaide where ‘the vocals are intimate, the songs intricate and the beats wonky’. This room is extremely chilled, not from the weather but rather the faraway eerie folk sounds from Water Park Music. I’m instantly relaxed and transported to quite a meditative plane. The room is packed, with the streams of light dancing about listeners who are immersed in their own movements.
Next I’m onto the main stage to see Only Objects a local electro-synth-glam-pop four piece. They are a visual delight with front man Patrick Lang (CEO and co-founder of Futuresounds) glammed up with glitter adorning his face, Cam Walters throwing back to the 80s on Keytar, Christopher Jazzcat on Bass, and Gerard Spalding on Drums. The room is absolutely packed and the responsive crowd loves their synth-pop-rock explosive sounds. Their song ‘Weapon of War’ is a standout, with its heavy percussive rhythms supported by a dense bass riff, it builds in a way similar to Muse with a synthy crescendo taking it to its peak. The visual backdrop adds to experience and features a travelling tunnel of geometric shapes that coincidentally expand to the beat of the music.
I wander back to the Headspace stage to see Kimonono a duo who produce industrial beats in a mélange of ambient dark pop. Once again it’s a full room where you need to squeeze and slide between chilled out people, which is harder than it sounds.
Auguste. (Photo from Andy Nowell)
The night of electronica is diverse, and to mention only just a few: Auguste fronted by Skye Lockwood and Beth Keough who explore captivating vocal harmonies that is intertwined with dramatic beats, analogue bass, and synth swells. Daydream Fever, who presents an energetic electro punkhop performance freestyling and engaging the crowd with every line. Mìo, with their engaging moody dream pop and sensational stage presence.
All night I meander from stage to stage, and occasionally find myself in the break out room with the jumbo sized jenga, or watching patrons in the beer garden being glitzed up by the glitter face painter from Glitter Gang. Being a festival with 26 acts you might imagine the set changes to be problematic but they are seamless and efficient with local DJs instantly filling the rooms with sounds so you never actually stop grooving.