Link to our Facebook
Link to our Instagram

Live Review: Semaphore Music Festival

4 October 2016 | 1:24 pm | Jonty Czuchwicki

"Jungle City are a band made for festival main stages."

More Grenadiers More Grenadiers

The Semaphore Music Festival saw a few challenges on its Saturday offering, but strong contingency plans and artistic integrity helped the festival pull through. With Adelaide's recent weather catastrophe, the location of the main stage was moved from the Semaphore Foreshore to The Flour Shed in Port Adelaide. The change was short notice and it seemed as if some had missed the memo.

The Mr V Music stage remained in Adelaide and featured a slew of great acts in an outdoor setting. Jungle City played their rollicking and groovy rock'n'roll to an audience seated on comfy couches, as they tore through an upbeat number that ends on a bombastic jam. Somnium performed directly afterwards, their set was improv-heavy and they would be comfortable at a roots festival such as Bluesfest. Amid the pragmatic noodling and anchoring bass grooves, they did include I Lost My Mind Trying To Make Out Yours.

Over at the main stage — which fit in seamlessly at The Flour Shed in Hart's Mill, which is also home to Laneway Festival — Nakatomi were giving their all. The colourful electro-pop act is extremely cinematic and their stage presence is very dramatic. While the concept is there in full effect, it would be great to see the band rely less on backing tracks and samples to create a full live experience. Whether this takes extra members or a higher proficiency, it will benefit them graciously.

Lizzie Bradley was a highlight of the day and her unique sounds were alluring and mystic. Creating intriguing soundscapes with her voice and electronic equipment, Bradley was accompanied by a percussionist who utilised brush sticks on a bongo, snare, gong and small crash cymbal.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

Jungle City performed again on the main stage (filling in for Surviving Sharks who pulled out at late notice). The larger stage and higher quality production on this stage benefited them wildly. Their set explored a variety of different rock'n'roll styles, from hard and fast to slow and soft; fiddly, groovy, raucous — you name it. Jungle City are a band made for festival main stages.

Hummingbird continue to be a mainstay of Adelaide's lo-fi/minimal scene, coming across as a blend of The xx with elements of Radiohead. It's always a pleasure to watch Elena Nees' voice driving the often emotion-centric narrative of each song while crafting looped beats; all the while Miles Smith utilises simple guitar chords and notation, along with manual manipulation of pedals and effects to add depth. The result is gorgeous, vulnerable and heart-melting.

God God Dammit Dammit used their energy to haul the audience through to the final act of the festival. The band of many members are a hardball of fun times. Blending sleazy funk-rock with an exuberant horn section, stacks of whammy and charismatic frontman Steve Pitkin, you could easily imagine GGDD taking on WOMADelaide, or raising the vibe at Rainbow Serpent.

Abbey Howlett then charmed audiences with her hip hop and R&B-infused beats. A vocal talent as much as an instrumentalist, Howlett's style is much like that of Tash Sultana. Ending her set with latest single The Mother was a highlight. The earthy and hypnotic tune samples bird songs and Howlett's voice will send you right back to your last DMT experience.

Grenadiers headlined the night. With punk rock as their anchor point they also explore elements of grunge, stoner, melodic and hardcore punk within their songs. The band's synergy is super-tight, perhaps thanks to their drummer Jimmy Balderston who plays like clockwork.

All in all, and despite the abrupt location change, Semaphore Music Festival was a great day for the SA music scene.