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Fuse @ Fringe Stage - Rymill Park, Adelaide (18.02.11)

After three packed days of master classes, keynote speeches, panels, and showcases, the Fuse Festival was drawing to a close. Yet, as one festival ends, another begins.

Friday night saw the East End of Adelaide come alive with the Fringe Festival’s Opening Night – and what better way to celebrate both festivals than the Fuse @ Fringe Stage deep in the Adelaide parklands.

There was an unmistakable carnival atmosphere as you hit Rundle Street. From people in crazy costumes, to street performers, fairground rides, The Garden of Unearthly Delights and, of course, music.

At the Fuse @ Fringe Stage, the night was all about the music. This stage was for the little guys – mainly bands that were just starting to get significant exposure and those carving out a name for themselves in the national scene. This isn’t to say that these bands were amateurs – far from it. From early in the night, it was clear that the bands were nothing but professional, incredibly talented, and deserved all the exposure they could get. So, here we’ll take a look at some of these smaller bands that played earlier on in the night.

Kicking off the night was Brisbane band The Cairos, who took the Triple J Unearthed slot for the night. Playing a tight set of indie rock, these guys knew exactly when to go into full rock mode and when to be beautifully melodic, and did both with ease. They obviously enjoyed the opportunity to play on the Fuse @ Fringe Stage and clearly loved playing every minute.

Next up was Microwave Jenny. I’d never seen them before, but I’d heard good things. With just a guitar and vocals, this folk rock duo proved that less is more. Their tunes were effortlessly elegant, with fantastic guitar playing complemented by beautiful vocals. In a set that included their own songs, the band also covered Cee Lo Green’s "Forget You" and Hanson’s "MMMBop". Definitely unexpected, but their acoustic folk versions were amazing, making the songs decidedly their own.

Following Microwave Jenny was local band The Honey Pies. In a loud, energetic set, The Honey Pies played tracks from their latest album, Think of England, and it was immediately clear that they had developed a strong live following in Adelaide. At times, though, it was a little difficult to hear the vocals, but with the band’s own brand of all out rock ‘n’ roll, they still played a great set.

Next on the line-up was San Cisco. I’d never heard of this Perth band before, but they were definitely my highlight for the night. Their melodic indie pop, with a bit of a surf feel, immediately reminded me of Vampire Weekend. The upbeat pop tunes that made up the set were made complete with the band’s brightly coloured clothes and lighting. They played a tight set, and very quickly had the crowd dancing. No doubt they’ll be ones to keep an eye out for.

It had literally rained non-stop in Adelaide on Friday, and undoubtedly this had an effect on the crowd, and unfortunately made for pretty miserable gig-going conditions. Still, all of these bands gave the Fuse Festival a great send off, drawing good crowds despite the weather. The stage was clearly a fantastic opportunity for these bands to play at a larger event, and just proved how much musical talent is out there in Australia.