Live Review: Welcome Stranger

20 June 2017 | 10:19 am | Catherine Delpero

"It was all very mysterious to begin with, the mystery then morphing into vague uncertainty as no one knew what band would be playing where."

A new beast has spawned for Hobart's Dark Mofo festival for 2017. One part progressive music gig, one part art installation and one part experiment in human behaviour; Welcome Stranger confused, bemused and amused many over the three-night extravaganza.

The Saturday instalment was the last hurrah and promised to be the biggest night yet. The Dark Mofo overlords had booked out unusual venues in the space of a block or so in Hobart's CBD. Punters were given individual passwords and meeting times across three zones. It was all very mysterious to begin with, the mystery then morphing into vague uncertainty as no one knew what band would be playing where. There was an overwhelming sense that at any given moment you were missing out on something at another venue that you weren't currently at. Literal FOMO.

The first venue, for this reviewer, was a pub normally reserved for local pokie aficionados and pool players, that is actually called The Welcome Stranger. The pool tables were replaced with a stage, a slot car track and an arcade basketball hoop game, and the upstairs hotel was transformed into themed karaoke rooms that had a fun but seedy vibe.

After leaving the smooth funk sounds of San Francisco guest Doug Hream Blunt, it was off to the next zone which had two distinctive areas. Legacy House, where you could catch some African dance vibes complete with a traditional Kora (double-bridge-harp-lute). Next, it was on to Alcheme for a more art-fuelled bar, bass bath for your ears and day-bed area reminiscent of a 1980s adult romance movie.

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Onto the third zone and into the Royal Tennis Club for a more retro scene. The stunning 1875 club was now a buzzing cocktail bar complete with an interpretive dance version of Royal (Real) Tennis complete with black lights on the basement court.

It was then time to worship at the altar of Le1f at the Congregational Church. New York producer and rapper Le1f brought the audience back into the 21st century with dance moves, heavy bass, avant-garde rap and his stellar performance skills - it was the pinnacle of the night.

Russian provocateurs, Pussy Riot had featured on the Dark Mofo line-up and now a DJ set from one member rounded out the night back at the original Welcome Stranger. The dedicated few were handed bright coloured balaclavas as a homage to the band and danced the night away to Russian techno and the like. Some were then happy to move onto the throng of ravers at the next gig, Red Bull Music Academy's Transliminal, while others got themselves a bucket of hot chips from the bar's own bain-marie and returned to their winter hibernation for another year.