There is absolutely nothing better than spending National Reconciliation Week with my Bundjalung brother Budjerah as he performed to a sold-out crowd at Sydney’s Lansdowne.
The 19-year-old brought along Liyah Knight and Kirsten Salty to open the night – both ones to watch for their performance prowess and hooky tunes. I’d caught Kirsten over a month ago opening for Thomas Headon where she played a track called “Lucy”, an ode to her alter ego, that has been stuck in my head ever since. Standing next to her partner and producer Cyrus, she announced the tune would be released soon as her next single. Keep an eye out for this one!
Budjerah came on to raucous applause, standing alone with his guitar in front of a background of helium balloons. He opened the night with his current high-rotation hit “Higher” that had the audience in karaoke mode, with the singer pausing regularly to hear his lyrics being screamed back at him.
It wasn’t lost on the crowd how grateful this performer was to be on a national tour, followed by adoring fans that listen and engage with his music. It was a through-line of the night, his remarks of “this is cool!” and many blushing thanks along the way.
But what stood out more was Budjerah’s natural storytelling. He teased a few unreleased tracks: one called “Lonely” and another inspired by an Uber driver in Perth called Darius who drove away after arriving at the pickup point. The worst part was that he couldn’t even give him a bad review! He was able to innocently tell stories with unexpected punches that had both him and the crowd laughing like it was a stand-up show.
On top of that, Friday marked the day his track “Stranger Love” with PNAU was released – a song inspired by The Little Prince that was picked up by the EDM group. He gracefully played an acoustic version of his original penning, titled the same name as the book. However, after finishing his song, he reminded the crowd that the song released today was actually “bumping” so we should imagine it like that if we hadn’t heard it yet.
Throughout the night, Budjerah had the audience in stitches, in completely commanded silence and even heckling songs he should play like “the Grandma song!” aka “Shoulda Coulda”.
Even with such little stage experience compared to his peers, he performed like a pro, throwing away the setlist, engaging with the audience and letting us all walk away thinking we’d just made a new friend. It’s easy to understand the hype around Budjerah when all he has to do is charm us with his refreshing authenticity.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Catch the rest of Budjerah’s national tour:
Friday 4 June | Byron Theatre, Byron NSW
Saturday 5 June | Miami Marketta, Gold Coast QLD
Sunday 6 June | The Triffid, Brisbane QLD
Tickets on sale now from www.budjerah.com