Day 2 (Saturday) was a little bit epic – in the full sense of the meaning of that word. It was long, dotted with heroes and a series of legendary happenings.
Ok. That’s totally corny. But it was still extraordinary. Here’s the quick wrap of my highlights:
A morning walk around the grounds and the discovery of the Kids Zone. A handmade playground of huts, teepees, cubbies, fairy houses, a sandpit, musical instruments made from wood and metal and loads of other fun things. Lots of shade too. Made me wish my child was little again. (But only for a moment – we had more fun at DuOud’s rave set that night – more details below).
Sona Jobarteh‘s set. Sona is touted as the first female professional kora player from Gambia. She played a gorgeous early arvo set. Really nice to sit in the shade under the trees for this. Others stood close to the stage and grooved along. There were some exciting and fun drum battles on stage too – between the djembe and drum kit players, with audience participation.
Then we heard political players in conversation on stage in The Party Room Podcast. Fran Kelly, Patricia Karvellas, Simon Birmingham and Penny Wong discussing the up coming election and past parliaments, plus promises and policies of course. There were no seats left inside, so I sat on the grass with my teenager, listening with others. We made a little friend in 12-month old Akuna (his name means ‘father’s pride’), who crawled over to hang out with us for a bit. Everyone’s friendly at WOMADelaide. Babies are the best.
Then we wandered over to the Moreton Bay Stage for Dangerous Song with Bukhu. Mongolian fiddle and throat singing meets whale song and bird call mixed in real time through a looper. Ethereal voice, improvised on wordless syllables floats above it all. It’s all a tribute to endangered animals. This was the perfect chill afternoon set under the shade of the big native fig trees.
Later, on the main stage LaBrassBanda brought their high energy and big sound to a hot and dusty crowd. We sought refuge from the heat in the gin garden. Still close enough to hear the music and feel the bass. Exactly the break from the heat we needed at the muggiest part of the day. And gin. With finger lime. Can’t go wrong there.
Next – one of my personal highlights of the whole festival – Dona Onete: the Grande Dame of Amazonian song. Shining bright and bold and badass at 78 years young. The Brazilians in the crowd showed us all how to dance and really brought the party.
A short break at our bnb to rinse off the day’s dust then back to the festival at night to kick up some more of it.
DuOud at 8pm on the Zoo stage. Old skool ravers. Rock stars of the oud. Funny guys, too. EDM, but Classical Arabic style. This set totally went off. Around me all at once: belly dancing and bouncing and grooving. More please.
Then Thando and her 10 piece orchestra. The brass section killed it. So good. Backing vocals were lush and Thando was just a bit of a super star. Original songs, bold, soulful, relevant.
Tiredness got the better of us so we only caught the first couple of songs of the Fat Freddy’s Drop late night set. We swayed in and with the sea of fans, sinking into that slow reggae pulse, and left feeling a little bit blissed out at the day’s musical (and other) wanderings.
PLUS: Edited to add a bit about day 3
Sunday’s standout for me was Thelma Plum. So many things to love about her set. Like her rich, smooth, voice; her charm talking to the crowd in between songs – kind of shy but not really. Totally endearing. Her lyrics on love, learning, belonging, owning her power, hurt and healing were really moving too. We could have listened to her for another hour and that still wouldn’t have been enough.