15 March 2013

Adelaide, Day 1

Saturday, 9 March

I boarded my flight out of Brisbane, and we took off on time just after 6 in the morning.

I was in a window seat, and the couple in the seats next to me were also first-time WOMADelaiders heading down to Adelaide for the world music festival. (But with thousands of people in the park, I didn't actually end up seeing them again at any of the shows.)

With a tailwind, we landed in Adelaide almost a full half-hour ahead of schedule. South Australia is in the Central Australian time zone (GMT + 9.30), so it's usually 30 minutes behind Brisbane. But since that state observes Daylight Savings, it's now half an hour ahead of Brisbane. So I flew westward, but the clock went forward... weird.

When I travel to other countries, I re-set my watch to local time. With only a half-hour difference, I kept my phone on Brisbane time for the week, and just had to remember to add 30 minutes to whatever it said.

The sign inside Adelaide Airport, welcoming me to South Australia.

Across the road from Adelaide Airport is the city's IKEA store. The Adelaide and Perth stores are franchised differently to the East Coast stores, so I went in for a look around. A lot of similarities, quite a few differences too.

Adelaide's Big Blue Box.
 From there I walked out onto the main road on Sir Donald Bradman Drive, and found a stop where I could catch a bus into the city itself.

Waiting for the bus.
Thankfully, there was a stop in Pulteney Street, and my hostel was on the corner of Wakefield & Pulteney, so it was only a few blocks to walk down to find Backpack Oz. I was a little early, so had to wait and read my book until my room was ready. Then it was time to change into shorts, as it was HOT in Adelaide. Temperatures reached the 30s for each day of the music festival, and got as high as 38 degrees Celcius on Monday and Tuesday.

Trees in the Botanic Gardens.

Not having realised the distinction between the Botanic Gardens and Botanic Park (which is next to the Gardens), the way I chose to walk on Saturday morning to get to the festival was a little longer than it needed to be. I soon found the shorter route by the time I needed to head back for sleep.

Hackney Road entrance to WOMADelaide festival.

Free bicycle parking.
Adelaide is an incredibly bicycle-friendly city. Many of the inner city roads had bike lanes, or designated bikeways alongside footpaths. I don't think I've seen so many cyclists in the one place since leaving Japan. As part of the environmental side of the festival, they encouraged cycling and public transport to the event, and provided large amounts of racks at each entrance for festival-goers to lock up bicycles.

And then began some great music!
12 - 1 pm, Stage 1
Christine Salem and her band (Réunion).
I started my festival with some African flavour. I didn't see a lot, as I found shade by the nearby Stage 3, where I could still hear all the music from the main stage.
1 - 2 pm, Stage 3
Shunsuke Kimura & Etsuro Ono (Japan)
These two guys were amazing shamisen players, performing works from the northern part of Japan. The MC on this stage absolutely murdered the pronunciation of "Shunsuke", though.

There were free drinking refill stations in the park, but I hadn't brought any water, so after the shamisen set was over I headed back into Adelaide City to buy some water. I got a cheap 1.5 litre bottle at Woolies (to save on refilling trips), since the festival allowed patrons to bring in either a full sealed bottle of water or an empty bottle.

I also had a few drinks at a bar in town, at prices slightly cheaper than festival prices. Then it was back for more music!
4 - 5 pm, Stage 4
Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba (Mali)
As mentioned in my "Music Month" post, I've been looking forward to seeing these guys live. They were the number one reason behind my deciding to book tickets to Adelaide and the festival. Amazing music, using only traditional (albeit modified and electrified) instruments. Instead of a drum kit, there was a giant calabash, and a small talking drum. Most of the band play the ngoni, an African stringed instrument something like a lute or a guitar. Simply amazing music.

Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba
5 - 6 pm, Stage 2
Kingfisha (Australia)
I'd seen Kingfisha, a Brisbane-based reggae group, once before at The Zoo when they supported Easy Star All-Stars. It was good to see another set.

6 - 7 pm, Stage 1
Vieux Farka Touré (Mali)
Son of the late great Ali Farka Touré, a great blues guitarist from Mali, Vieux is also a great guitar player in his own right.

Vieux Farka Touré.
As part of looking after the park, the festival had plenty of clearly-marked bins throughout the venues. All were colour-coded and labelled to help patrons sort their waste.


Low afternoon sun.
7 - 8 pm, Stage 2
Antibalas (USA)
Antibalas were one of the acts performing only the one show at the festival, so I went to Stage 2 after seeing Vieux, to check them out. I didn't really know anything about them, but was completely blown away. Hailing from Brooklyn, they played an hour of energetic, infectious Afrobeat along the lines of Femi Kuti (they even played one of his songs as their finale). They were the absolute highlight of the day, which I told the band when I got to say g'day at the signing tent. Sadly they aren't playing any shows in Brisbane.

8 - 9 pm, Stage 6
Vieux Farka Touré (Mali), Artist In Conversation
Stage 6 was in the "Speakers Corner" section of the park, and hosted various talks on sustainability and economic/ecological/social issues, as well as interviews with selected artists. On Saturday night, via a translator, Vieux was interviewed on a range of topics. He spoke about his music, his collaborations and recordings, as well as the political climate in Mali and its impact on the music scene.
9 - 10 pm, Stage 2
Clairy Browne & The Bangin' Rackettes (Australia)
9 - 10 pm, Stage 7
The Correspondents (UK)
Vieux's interview went a little past 9 pm, so after that I wandered around the park, checking out a couple different stages before heading back to the main stage to await Hugh Masekela.

10 - 11.15 pm, Stage 1
Hugh Masekela (South Africa)
Panoramic view of the stage lighting and crowd as the band await Hugh's grand entrance.

Hugh Masekela.
For a 73 year old, Hugh Masekela is a fairly active guy, dancing around on stage as he played his trumpet, and a fantastic player and entertainer. I didn't last the whole set, however. Having been up for over 35 hours by this stage (not counting a couple dozes on the flight, and some nodding off in the shade listening to shamisens), I left the festival and headed back to my hostel.

When I got in, some other backpackers were playing pool, so I lasted a little while longer and joined in for a game or two.

Then it was time for sleep.

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