Adelaide played host to the Spin Off Festival, the annual mini-Splendour event which featured headliner Childish Gambino, alongside an impressive lineup of international and local acts. The one-day festival took place at the Adelaide Showgrounds on what turned out to be a sunny Friday for Adelaide in winter. The event tried a new set-up this year, using an undercover pavilion in the carpark of the venue to allow for the huge increase in demand for tickets, with over twenty-thousand festival-goers attending.
The first stand-out act for the day was Triple J Unearthed artist of the year 2018 winner, Sydney rapper Kwame, who has an amazing on-stage presence. He performed an energetic and engaging set that the crowd ate up, including his hits, “WOW” and “Clouds”.
Ruby Fields delighted Adelaide fans from the get-go, making us laugh with an Aussie sports and politics intro video which set the tone. Her songs are quirky and her performance charismatic and she the audience dancing and singing along to “Ritalin”, “I Want”, “Trouble” and “Dinosaurs.”
London four-piece Wolf Alice emerged through a smokey haze, with blaring feedback; and launched into “Moaning Lisa Smile” followed by the upbeat rock number “You’re A Germ.” Wolf Alice are an amazing live act, engaging the crowd and they were loving every second of their time on the Spin Off stage. Lead singer Ellie Rowsell was the first performer to drift out onto the catwalk stage (that was blocked off, set up awaiting Childish Gambino) as she couldn’t help herself, wanting to get closer to the crowd. After a performance of the dreamy “Silk” the band brought out a birthday cake and a bottle of champagne for Rowsell’s birthday. She continued to swig out of the champagne bottle like a proper badass as the band belted out “Giant Peach” and the poppy number “Don’t Delete the Kisses.”
Later in the afternoon, Brisbane quintet Ball Park Music brought their lively and fun energy to the Spin Off stage with a performance that was met by an invigorated crowd who were eager to jump around as the sun faded and the air began to cool. Ball Park Music have become an Australian festival standard, and for good reason – they have a great catalogue of hits that everyone loves to singalong too, such as “Exactly How You Are” and “Everything is shit except my friendship with you” and they were a crowd favourite again today.
Despite a great lineup, it really was all about Childish Gambino who was easily the biggest drawcard for Spin Off this year. Donald Glover had been forced to cancel his November 2018 tour of Australia due to an injury and as the crowd waited for his arrival at Spin Off, the vibe of the whole festival changed completely and suddenly we were at a sold-out Childish Gambino concert.
When Glover emerged centre stage to a deafening roar from the crowd he remained perfectly still and took a good few minutes for a dramatic build-up before he launched into “Algorhythm.” We were told that we were at church tonight and that we need to put our phones away and live in the moment, wise words ahead of what was an unforgettable performance. In a quiet moment, with some heartfelt words for the young Adelaide crowd in these troubled times, Glover said: “Remember that you matter and that I love you. That’s not hippy bullshit. I mean that.”
“Summertime Magic” fooled us into thinking that it was a warm summer day, as images of palm trees appeared on the LED screen behind the band. There was fun had with the full band and choir taking cue from Glover’s as he messed around with them for a while, improvising a call and response, and the addition of the choir really elevated the performance, especially with tracks like “Have Some Love.”
Of course, fans were excited to hear “This is America” live and Glover hyped up the crowd, getting everyone grooving ahead of the beat kicking in, and dancers in school uniforms joined Glover on the stage; the whole performance was next-level. After this number, Glover’s directorial streak came out as he made a little short film of himself grabbing some water and pretending he wasn’t going to come back out for an encore. The Adelaide crowd was going crazy, though, and Glover quickly returned to the stage to deliver “Sober” and “Redbone.” Thousands sung along, finishing off the 2019 Adelaide Spin Off festival with an explosion of sound and collective joy. After all, we were at church.