Day 1 and 2 Wrap-up.
If you haven’t been to Womadelaide yet, this is truly the best year for it. PERFECT sunny skies (but not too hot), lots to keep the kids and parents happy (whether socializing together or separately), and an absolutely treasure trove of yummy food and inspiring music, spoken word and dance performances on offer. I know you’re probably asking yourself – how do I know I’ll have a great time when I don’t know most of the acts? It’s all about trust – the organisers know how to hit the happy buttons in your ears, eyes and soul, so take the plunge and open heart to the happiest festival on the planet. It’s a tasting platter of everything that the world music scene has to offer – here’s small glimpse into the buffet on offer this year.
The opening night went ahead at cracking pace. Kate Miller-Heidke brought all her octaves to sprinkle fairy dust over the sunset drenched crowd, but it was Orquestra Akokan who brought the party vibe to life. All the way from Cuba, their beats and vocals had the crowd sashaying and calling for more. Lead vocalist José “Pepito” Gómez was playful and passionate in leading the call and response with the backing band members. WOMAD-goers are lucky to have a second opportunity to see them on the Sunday if they missed out on the Friday session – and those repeat sessions are just one of the unique benefits of attending WOMADelaide. Closing out day one was WOMAD frequent flyers The Cat Empire, who really complimented Orquestra Akokan with their infectious tunes and stage presence. In their fifth appearance at the festival, they drew a massive crowd with their jazz/ska/funk and world music influences. Like Superman, I have a day job, and so utterly exhausted from dancing I skipped Late Nite Tuff Guy (otherwise known as DJ HMC) who continued the party on the decks until late into the night.
Saturday opened up with sparkling sun, and we staked our spot with blankets, Christmas lights and a few other creature comforts before visiting Gravity and Other Myths for their show A Simple Space. It was really special to be able to catch this stand out fringe show in the outdoors with so many kids able to enjoy the performance as well. They’re described as circus, but they aren’t like you’d imagine – no facepaint or lavish costumes – it’s all stripped back to incredible human performance with a healthy dose of competitiveness amongst the team. In fact a lot of it felt like they were there to play and one up each other, rather than performing for the crowd, and it added a really fun sense of tensions and showmanship to see who would reign supreme in each battle. The absolutely LOVED being able to participate in the show then the performers all did handstands with their legs split, and the kids threw what seemed like a million coloured balls at them until there was just one performed left standing. A cracker of a sow – definitely catch it at the Fringe before the season ends! Just to the left of the performance, the immensely famous Blind Boys of Alabama were wrapping up their soulfully energetic and emotive set. Founded in 1939, The Blind Boys of Alabama have been touring continuously ever since and were impressively resilient in the full afternoon sun, tuxedos, and their second straight day of performance.
We took a bit of a performance break, picked up some yummy mid-eastern sharwama with hummus, and spent a bit of time perusing the stalls, picking up some vintage threads and having some henna meticulously painted – it’s not WOMAD unless you’re wearing henna!
Later in the afternoon, we cruised along to Minyo Crusaders who I can imagine perfectly soundtracking a Japanese cruiseship with their latin/jazz vibe overlaid with Japanese language vocals. Decked out in casual kimono jackets, their cruisey kawaii-style vocals brought smiles to everyone in attendance., They seemed really chuffed to be in Adelaide and they were a delight to watch.
The sun was down and we were beginning to feel the chill, so we closed out the day with a delicious chai and a bit of a boogie with SO.Crates and their melodic backdrop over hip hop beats and rhymes. They cite De La Soul as an influence, and there was certainly echoes of that playful style amongst deeper messages.
There’s still time to get on board the WOMADelaide train in 2020 – put your Monday holiday to good use and open your ears to a world of music that lives outside the everyday. And put some Orquestra Akokan on in the mornings to start your day off with a smile.