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Live Review: Spin Off Festival 2019

20 July 2019 | 6:11 pm | Thomas Jackson

“We’re about to have a good time.”

Spin Off 2019 consisted of just one giant main stage under a mammoth-sized tent. This meant no zero timetable clashes on the day, giving every artist their moment in the spotlight.

As the gates opened, people sprinted into the giant tent to catch triple j Unearthed competition winners, Adelaide indie-rock two-piece TOWNS. No one was visibly more excited to be there than the band. The highlight of their set was a cover of the Friends theme song dedicated to the duo's friendship. Ending with Safe To Stay, the song that won them their position on the line-up, the band left after a far too short 20 minutes.

Triple j Unearthed High 2018 winner Kian came to the stage with a laidback attitude and a confident stage presence, playing songs from his EP Bliss. A large midday crowd filled out the tent to witness the hybrid of hip hop vocals and indie-pop instrumentals. A yet unreleased song featured an addictive chorus expanding on his signature style. Members of the crowd climbed up onto shoulders as Kian left the stage with Waiting after building to an energetic high.

The intensity in the tent increased for Kwame, one of the new superstars of the Australian hip hop scene. It's been a year since Kwame won the 2018 triple j Unearthed comp to open Splendour In The Grass. Now he has become a must-see act at Spin Off, proven by the number of people who came early to see him. The artist has confidence, charm and swagger, and the audience was with him, shouting all the words skyward on Clouds and Wow while he ran back and forth across the stage.

Ruby Fields' down-to-earth and relatable lyrics ignited a spark in everyone in the crowd. Fields was visibly thrilled by the response and almost thrown off when the lyrics "I wanna be someone who doesn't smoke for a false sense of validation" were screamed louder than her own voice on the quiet bridge of opening song I Want. Her other highlights like Trouble and Dinosaurs were obvious crowd favourites.

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Mallrat took a bit more time than others to warm up the crowd. However, the short set built to a mammoth second half as her confidence soared going into the final songs. She fed off the crowd's contagious energy as the familiar lines from Groceries and Uninvited sounded through the tent.

Slacker-rock two-piece Hockey Dad followed up Mallrat. Their relatable anthems and minimal set-up – just drums and guitar – created the atmosphere for the perfect audience singalong as every lyric rose above the noise on Seaweed and Join The Club.

Four-piece Wolf Alice changed the atmosphere with a mix of guitar-heavy alternative-rock and ambient pop. There wasn't as much singing along compared to other acts – everyone was mostly in silent admiration of the captivating performance. The setlist weaved between the heavy rock of Moaning Lisa Smile, the ambience of 90 Mile Beach and the iconic melodies of Don’t Delete The Kisses.

It's easy to forget how many hit songs are in Ball Park Music's discography. The crowd chanted along to every song thrown at them, especially Everything Is Shit Except My Friendship With You, The Perfect Life Does Not Exist and the most wholesome crowd favourite It's Nice To Be Alive. Their simple pop-rock anthems were clearly the most enjoyable and engaging performance of the day so far.

Hottest 100 winners Ocean Alley had an hour-long set that they filled with their discography of signature psychedelic surf-rock. However, the highlight wasn’t until the final three songs as the bassline of Confidence vibrated through the tent, followed by a live rendition of their Like A Version cover Baby Come Back. As the band finished on Knees it was evident how far they have come since their 2018 album Chiaroscuro and the connection they have made with audiences around Australia.

Catfish & The Bottlemen are on the Australian festival circuit so much you'd be forgiven for thinking they're citizens. Having already proved themselves to be a mainstay in Australia, the band were second to end the night. They only released their debut album five years ago, but their stage presence is of a confident, experienced band who know exactly what they’re doing.

Playing highlights across their short three-album career, the audience roared along to 7, Soundcheck and Twice. With the amount they’re touring the country they’re cementing themselves as one of Australia’s favourite British bands, on par with The Wombats.

The gigantic tent looked small once everybody had filled in to wait for Childish Gambino. The set began with the unreleased song Algorithm which highlighted that Adelaide was getting the full stage show and lighting combined with a full band, choir and dancers. “Put your phones down,” Gambino said. “This is church tonight, we’re about to have a good time.”

The hour-long set sped past as one song after the next made the room more alive than before as Gambino reminded everyone of the diversity of his catalogue. There were the pop hooks of Summertime Magic and he Worst Guys before moving into the choir-led jazz of Have Some Love.

As This Is America began, the atmosphere in the room changed as everybody went berserk. The level of energy here was unmatched by any other act that day. From there, Gambino went into the final stretch, keeping the atmosphere in the room at a peak with Sober, 3005 and Sweatpants. The instrumental melody of Redbone rang out to close Spin Off. 

It’s exciting to see how much Spin Off has grown from 2018 to 2019. The level of artists coming to Spin Off this year is hopefully an exciting preview of how much this festival can expand in the coming years and fill the gap in the market.