This year I made the decision to go to three days of WOMADelaide and loved pretty much every minute of it. Even though there’s thousands of people who go it’s a peaceful festival and pretty easy to navigate once you get your bearings. I try and buy food at the non-busy times so I don’t have to queue and felt for the obviously very busy food stallholders and employees.
I arrived on Friday evening (apparently it was sold-out) half an hour early for the Violent Femmes. They opened with the well-known Blister in the Sun and continued on with other hits and a few new ones. When they said that one of them was a polka number I thought ‘uh oh’ but it was really enjoyable. They should have said ‘polka with a twist’. The saxaphone player had been with the band since he was 14!
I wanted to see Angelique Kidjo and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra but as it was a sit down performance I wasn’t nearly early enough to be anywhere near so I observed from afar. It didn’t grab me and I ended up over at the Moreton Bay stage watching The Jerry Cans – a very energetic band from northern Canada. The piano accordion player also did some throat singing which I hadn’t heard before. Everyone was sitting down at the beginning but were soon enticed up to dance.
I finished off the Friday night’s music with Cat Empire.
Saturday kicked off for me with the packed out keynote by David Suzuki. The gist of his talk was that climate change is a thing but that we can turn it around. I liked his story of how a CEO of an oil(?) company came to visit him. David asked him to leave his CEO’ness at the door which he thinks he did because he walked through it. David stressed to him that our priorities as humans are clean air, water, earth to grow things but the CEO didn’t take it on board. I guess shareholders win out over common sense.
DakhaBrakha from Ukraine were recommended to me. I loved their outfits, their music and they were pretty skilled at bird sounds. A nearby woman wondered out loud to her friend ‘where is that bird sound coming from?’.
Eska was next on the list because a friend was part of the Adelaide Big Strings. Unfortunately we initially had trouble hearing the strings very well. Eska is a fantastic singer, and a very versatile musician – playing at least three instruments during this performance and apparently plays a whole lot more. My friend loved her part in the whole process – she glowed when talking about it.
Sunset at WOMAD on Saturday was pretty spectacular. I took it pretty easy during the evening because I was knackered from the Friday night but did tune in to most of De La Soul that night.
Sunday morning arrived and the only thing I really had planned was Marlon Williams and the Yarra Benders.
After I arrived I saw the end of a Planet Talk about solar power then thought I’d look around shop stalls. It was pretty warm in the tents and luckily for my bank balance I didn’t buy anything. I did see someone try to steal something but the stallholder was on to her.
The first music of the day apart from a bit of Kev Carmody ended up being the very funky and really fun Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro. Sorry Sarah Blasko, these guys won out! I dabbled a bit with Diego el Cigala but I had a sunny spot and really felt like sitting down so thought I’d head over to get some food and something to drink before Marlon Williams.
I arrived half an hour early, couldn’t be bothered lining up at the only food stall there so bought a can of slightly warm beer (or maybe it just warmed up too quickly) and tried to find a spot to sit down. Naturally lots of other people had the same idea and people get very protective of ‘their turf’.
Once they started playing though, most people stood up anyway so I gladly joined them and moved a bit further up and tried to see my way through the taller people at the front. It was one of the standout performances of the weekend for me. I’d first heard of him on The Beautiful Lie tv show that aired on ABC TV late last year. He has the most beautiful voice and I enjoyed every bit of the performance. I wished I had been there on the Monday and I would have seen him again so had to console myself with the CD I bought instead.
Afterwards I bought some food and ended up going to the Taste The World tent to watch The Strides do some cooking. It should have been billed as a comedy performance as I laughed a lot. I’m not sure who was who but one of the band members said he didn’t cook because he didn’t want to ruin his model hands.
Djuki Mala (the Chooky Dancers) was next on the list. Their dancing was interspersed with film commentary about how and why they got together.
I also saw St Germain and finished off the evening with The Gyuto Monks of Tibet. By this time I was glad that I’d found one of those cardboard seats as I needed to sit with my back straight.
I normally see lots of roving performances but the only one I really saw this time was Acrojou.
I travel pretty light to WOMAD. I didn’t take piles of stuff to setup a little campsite like many people did. I also got over stepping around blankets that people setup. I was mindful of them but sometimes you’ve just got to step on them to get where you need to go.
My WOMAD items which fit nicely in a shoulder bag and allow me to stay mobile:
- hayfever tablets – didn’t need them but good to have just in case. I remember one year it was really dusty and I had an awful headache and sneezed a lot.
- headache tablets – I did take one which got rid of the headache thank goodness
- sarong – to either sit on or use as sun protection
- little camera
- phone charger – didn’t end up using this at the phone recharge station because of the lineup. My phone battery is woeful so only used my phone to text friends to arrange meeting places/times.
- water bottle – filled up plenty of times at refilling stations
- money – of course.
I heard about other performers I didn’t get to see and that’s probably my fault for not researching a bit better before going but I enjoyed my experience nonetheless. I definitely look forward to going again.