Southbound wraps up 2016 with incredible music and loving vibes
Now that’s what I call a festival.
Incredible music talent, spectacular audiovisual performances, chilled camping vibes and an all-round fantastic, fun-loving atmosphere. Southbound 2016 was a festival to remember.
When organisers saw the weather forecast signalling temperatures in the mid 20’s and even some showers, they must have let out a collective sigh of relief. All their hard work was about to pay off, and we were the people lucky enough to reap the benefits.
We set off early on Tuesday morning and met up with other friends prior to entering to ensure our campsites were next to one another. Despite the best efforts of certain staff almost appearing to go out of their way to separate our fleet of cars, we managed to regroup and before long arrived at our camping spot on the lovely green fields, as opposed to the hay paddock awaiting latecomers.
Tuesday night was one for the campers, with the Mainbreak stage closed Lefty’s was the go-to destination, with the proceedings kicking off with local hip hop jazz fusion outfit POW! Negro delivering a sensational set with their trademark energy and precision. They were followed by the innovative, psychedelic folk beats of the gorgeous and dynamic singer-songwriter Tash Sultana, who charmed the audience with her mesmerising tunes, hauntingly beautiful voice, fantastical flute playing and brilliant beatboxing skills.
The sun set to the fun, high-tempo electronic sounds of Daft Punk in a wicked tribute set to the French duo, before another electronic pairing, Cosmo’s Midnight, consisting of Sydney twins Cosmo and Patrick Liney produced an exciting performance blending Pop and R&B elements with their electronic dance beats. An awesome first night was capped off with legendary electronic hip-hop duo Hermitude amping things up to another level with a collection of their own trademark tunes, covers including Kanye’s trap triumph ‘All Day’ and even treating fans to some new material!
The first full day of Southbound had a tantalising schedule awaiting festival-goers. Local teenage indie pop rock prodigies Mosquito Coast got the day off to a lovely start at Mainbreak before we headed over to Lefty’s to catch Fremantle four-piece rockers Hideous Sun Demon, we weren’t let down. They delivered a truly demonic, hectic set that ignited a mad mosh despite the small crowd. With a lead singer that seemed to epitomise the term sun demon, the boys impressed with their insane music that perfectly suited their possessed vibe.
We then made our way back to our tent for some lunch with the aim of returning to Mainbreak for the artist I was most excited to see: Montaigne. And oh my sweet baby jesus she did not disappoint. I quickly fell in love with her powerfully gorgeous vocals after first discovering her in the Hilltop Hoods single ‘1955’, and her solo work proved she was much more than a vocalist, highlighting her incredible talent. But nothing could have prepared me for her live performance. In my preview I suggested she’d take “festival-goers to glorious heights with her mesmerising vocals and beautifully chaotic tunes” but she did even more than that, blessing the ever-growing audience with a spiritual presence only present in the purest of musicians. A musical goddess, Montaigne is a truly special talent, with a hypnotic voice and entrancing tribal energy that could see her ascend to even more illustrious heights than she could have imagined. So yeah, probably check her out if you haven’t already!
After some terrific DJ beats from FUP DUCK gave us just enough time to absorb the Montaigne experience, my favourite Australian folk grunge outfit The Smith Street Band were up, performing an amazing set with great crowd vibes (death to the lads!), showing off their self-proclaimed ‘instrumental, not hip-hop, rap’ and highlighting frontman Wil Wagner’s lyrical genius. From there Southbounders were able to lap up performances from the Kevin Parker produced jazz hip hop outfit Koi Child, popular British rockers Catfish and The Bottlemen and electronic duo Boo Seeka.
But as the festival wore on more and more people began to realise the place to be was the Hightide tent. Or as we preferred to call it; the LIT tent. With a host of fantastic DJ’s performing all day, the Lit tent was going off all festival, with a personal
Wednesday standout being the banger-judging Odd Mob whilst Thursday featured wicked sets from the likes of Throttle, Elk Road and UV Boi (who sadly clashed with Cat Empire).
At 8:00 Mainbreak and Lefty’s were taken over by indie pop electronica band SAFIA and dance music DJ LDRU respectively. As fans of both, we weren’t sure who’d we end up staying for, but in the end authenticity won out as we were vibing the electronic artistry of SAFIA, despite seeing them at Groovin’ The Moo earlier in the year (although they were far better suited to performing at night so their Southbound set was thoroughly more enjoyable), over LDRU’s audio-visual nutrition for people on party drugs. It wasn’t poor music by any means, but it attracted a very specific kind of crowd and ultimately we felt as though it lacked substance.
The second day at Lefty’s then wrapped up with a DJ set from English indietronica band Hot Chip followedbyhiphopoutfit Thundamentals whilst Mainbreak became home to Chinese-American electronic musician ZHU before a truly amazing day was bought to an end with a surprisingly serious performance from much-loved psychedelic indie rock reggae kings Sticky Fingers, in what could be their last show in WA before breaking up.
But for those who had been able to pace themselves the final day still had a lot of incredible music talent in store. The day got off to a lovely start with the beautiful vocals of Vera Blue and Nicole Millar, a perfect cure for recovering Southbounders before the party machine was ignited with The Bennies unleashing their ‘Psychedelic Reggae Ska Doom Metal Punk Rock From Hell’ on the Southbound community, inspiring dozens of people to jump on friends’ shoulders and gulp down a shoey to the roaring delight of their festival peers.
The day also featured great sets from legendary Aussie rappers Seth Sentry and Drapht, as well as a fun performance from local favourites San Cisco! But the night belonged to two acts; everyone’s favourite Australian ska and jazz outfit The Cat Empire and electronic duo Peking Duk. I admit it, I’m an old school Cat Empire lover. We’re talking the Wine Song, the Car Song, How To Explain... so it was disappointing to miss out on many of the classics (they didn’t play the Wine Song?!?!). But their more recent, decidedly innovative material really is sensational, particularly when performed live. Ultimately however, Peking Duk stole the show with an awesome audiovisual assault that absolutely blew away stunned onlookers. After an introduction from David Hasslehoff, we should have expected something of epic proportions, but even that couldn’t prepare us for their ridiculously spectacular show. One word: wow. Actually maybe two: Holy Shit!
Overall, Southbound 2016 proved to be the best festival I’ve ever experienced, hands down. The fact that only the 3-day happy camper tickets sold out ensured the venue wasn’t too crowded and meant that the vast majority of festival-goers paced themselves a bit more which gave Southbound the nice, chill undertone that made it so enjoyable. The whole festival had a really great atmosphere that is sure to leave an endearing impression on anyone lucky enough to have been there.
Fingers crossed it returns next year!