WOMADelaide returned again for their annual four-day world music festival. Upon my eagerly awaited first steps into WOMADelaide, I had an idea of what I was to expect from it: world music, dance, art, culture and food, what awaited me inside was a whole new world set up for a celebration.
Set out in the gorgeously lush Adelaide Botanic Park, the sheer size of WOMADelaide is astounding. With eight stages: smaller more intimate stages and two main stages, countless food and market stalls, pavilions and gorgeous picnic areas spread across 34+ hectares of the park.
The first act I set out to see was well-known alternative-pop artist Kate Miller-Heidke, who filled the crowd with her sublime classically trained voice, reaching musical notes that only a select few in the pop scene can. Dazzling in white, Kate Miller-Heidke was a celestial sight on the horizon as the sun set.
Later in the evening I passed the Floating Flowers dance performance by Taiwanese Contemporary Tai Chi dance company B.Dance. A combination of traditional Asian dance movement, martial arts and contemporary dance, paired together with effective white tutu-like skirts Floating Flowers displayed a contemporary show of wonderful flowing and agile movement.
Ending my night with WOMADelaide favourite and frequent WOMADelaide visitors, Australian rock band The Cat Empire. With their awesome latin-reggae alternative rock tunes; full of percussion, fun vocals, and sounds of trumpets, drums and keys this was a party like no other and the perfect way to start Womad weekend.
Day two arrived with perfect sunny skies. I began my day with the elite circus performers Circolombia. Circolombia possessed an awesome unique blend of live latin music, dance and daring acrobatic stunts. Their fiery Latino energy, fantastic dance numbers and awesome acrobatic props made for a fantastic afternoon WOMADelaide show, perfect for kids and adults alike. The Company Archibald Caramantran, enormous puppet-style figures, even danced the way through the crowd during Circolombia, adding to the festive energy.
Later, the Blind Boys of Alabama commendably rocking their jazzy, gospel-blues style second show for Womad after playing Friday evening.
Later in the day I made my way to watch New Zealand singer-songwriter Aldous Harding, a singer whom I’d never heard of before. Aldous Harding blew me away with her unique, wispy stage presence, unlike anything I’d seen before. Her indie folk style and rich, silvery voice wowed fans in the audience.
Day three arrived and my first stop: The Taste the World tent. The concept is simple and tasty. Onlookers watch and listen as artists cook a meal from their home country whilst answering questions and discussing their performance, culture and food. I stopped by whilst Taiwanese contemporary Tai Chi dance company B.Dance were cooking a tasty Apple Cider Pork Stew.
Artists I managed to witness for the day included American country-soul singer-songwriter Bill Callahan, future soul quartet Hiatus Kaiyote and Cuban soul-mambo band Orquesta Akokán.
This day I allowed myself some time to wander through the numerous creative market stalls spread throughout Womad. From vintage stalls, jewellery, art, drums and circus equipment for the kids, there was so much to explore here. For myself, I purchased a gold anklet and toe ring to really get into the boho-hippie vibes of the festival.
Arguably my favourite day of this year’s festival, Monday pulled out all the stops. Following the announcement of award-winning artist Ziggy Marley pulling out of the Monday line-up and the swift fill-in of Australian singer songwriter Matt Corby, a favourite of mine, you could say I was rather excited to enjoy the day/night as it unfolded.
By Monday I was entirely taken by the atmosphere of the festival. This day my shoes were off, I was strolling around barefooted like many others, anklet bought on the previous day jingling with every step.
I started my day out with a workshop with B. Dance. Centred around Tai Chi, the B. Dance crew helped me into a relaxed and energised state which set me out perfectly for what was to come on that Monday. Daily workshops added into the WOMADelaide timetable add a fantastic interactive element, enjoyed by those attending.
Another awesome artist to witness live at this year’s WOMADelaide was fresh on the scene artist Odette. With her exhilarating stage presence, full of dance and energy, strong but sugary vocals and funny, sweetheart attitude Odette was sure to have made many fans from her WOMADelaide performances.
Grammy award winning, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Chicago-born Gospel soul and blues singer Mavis Staples sldo absolutely rocked the crowd with her raspy, booming voice and rhythmic blues. Described by the US National Public Radio as “one of America’s defining voices of freedom and peace,” Staples had astounding energy and a fun attitude. I had lots of fun swinging my hips to her bluesy style.
Laura Marling also took the stage on Monday to perform a light, angelic set. Her beautifully-crafted lyrics and sweet, expressive voice filled the crowd as we watched in admiration. During, Marling exclaimed “I apologise that my music isn’t exactly joyous festival music, but it is all I can do” promptly followed by an enormous encouragement woo from the crowd, not a single viewer minded, we were all to entranced by her exquisite voice and humble presence.
Lastly, Matt Corby had the crowd in absolute awe with his romantic songs, and indie-blues style. I grooved along with the crowd to his whole set which was filled with his top hits and much of his 2019 album Rainbow Valley. Magnificent psychedelic-style projections were displayed behind Corby as he sung, making for a picture-perfect way to end WOMADelaide 2020.
To end my night and WOMADelaide experience fully, I grooved my socks off with the late-night crowd who lost their minds to WOMADelaide’s final set played by South African DJ Themba. Set up right under the trees at stage 7, Themba transported us to another world and there was not a single person that wasn’t moving along.
FOOD & DRINK
I doubt there was any festivalgoer that went hungry, with the multitude of food stalls specialising in an enormous range of cuisines there was almost no corner of the planet that wasn’t at WOMADelaide in some form. With countless vegetarian, vegan and gluten options, if I was to say there was something for everyone, this would be an understatement.
I managed to try the Pink Lotus Vietnamese and the popular Funguys deep-fried mushroom kitchen stall. All the way from Mullumbimby, Queensland and recommended to me by a friend, the Pink Lotus Vietnamese had a menu full of everyone’s Vietnamese favourites with a couple of tasty vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free options too. I tried the Pho Beef Noodle Soup, although difficult to eat in a festival-setting it was deliciously rich and filled with flavour.
Another popular stall with a rather simple concept was The Funguys Murshroom. Travelling down from Byron Bay! An interesting idea, these guys make the tastiest vegan deep-fried mushrooms, topped with tasty shallots, sesames and sweet potato crisps.
On top of the incredible food on offer, there was also many different bars for the adults to choose from including , the SA Botanical Gin Bar, Coopers Beer Garden, Hills Cider Bar, Yalumba Wine Bar and more.
Enormously focussed on environmental awareness and sustainability, WOMADelaide makes sure to do everything possible to have as little impact on our earth as possible.
WOMADelaide is festival in its own league, one that should be experienced by all. Not Just World Music festival but the worlds festival, Womad is a full celebration of the world, world music, arts, food, it is a cultural exhibition of the ages that will continually be an annual favourite for thousands. Once experienced you cannot forget the crowd diversity, joy-filled atmosphere and relaxed hippie-vibes. A flawless combination of world food, creative markets, workshops and conferences as well as music and arts of course! There is never nothing to do but always to do nothing and just sit back, relax and experience the festival as it completely surrounds you. I will be keenly awaiting next year’s festival, so I can take my shoes off again and be consumed by every part of this soulful, fantastic celebration. 10/10.
Review by Hayley Sutter