Sun, sand and live music, all within a short distance from the centre of Adelaide made for a great setting for the mini festival Summersalt at Glenelg beach. The weather gods smiled on the event, sparing the exposed stage and audience from the vicious southern winds that occasionally whip across the Adelaide plains, instead a mild breeze and dappled skies made for pleasant conditions.
The high-rise apartments overlooking the event were well situated for a free concert and my inner entrepreneur reflected on the bourgeois owners who may have charged a premium for the weekend. Back at ground level however the punter was faced with the ever-increasing regulations and rules of the modern festival. Rules such as no eskys or BYO and no pass outs meant that the line for alcohol was lengthy and the few food vans were under the pump. The queue for a hotdog was 50 strong and the toilet lines were not much better and at around $100 Summersalt was a little over-sold.
Putting all that aside the afternoon was packed with talent and if you secured a good spot on the sand then you got your money’s worth. Former child soldier Emmanuel Jal emerged on stage with exuberance and energy to burn. The Sudanese-Canadian was ready to bring the party but he had his work cut out for him given the relaxed afternoon vibe. Sporting long dread locks and geometric camouflage shirt he urged the audience to participate. After a spoken word piece Jal chose dancers from the audience to join him on stage and taught the crowd some basic moves. By the end of the set Jal had proved himself a true entertainer, succeeding in converting recliners to booty shakers in less than 40 minutes.
Missy Higgins has been the darling of Australian audiences ever since she emerged in the early 2000s and has had many successes since then. Higgins did her version of the Obama mic drop, with her guitar almost slipping out of her hands much to the delight of the crowd. Recovering with quick wit this woman of song showed could do nothing wrong, or at least roll with the punches. Her warm generosity and down to earth nature as a person spread into her performance, making her relatable and a wonderful human. She shared tender moments such as the lullaby she wrote for her son as well as some of her upbeat material to keep the audience buzzing and promised the new songs would soon be available in recorded form.
The John Butler Trio broke on to the stage as the evening was turning to a dim haze, bringing the magic of the summer beach concert to the fore. Front man John Butler was in his element and showed why he is among the top entertainers in the country. Playing the guitar like a man possessed while warming the scene with his punchy voice, Butler had a large mob shaking it on the sandy dance floor while further back others bopped along on their picnic rugs. The set featured several sing alongs ensuring crowd participation and included old favourites such as Better Than from nearly a decade ago which still garners a great response. Zebra really brought the house down and Butler showed his true spirit by taking a moment to encourage people to get behind the ‘Fight for the Bight’ campaign.
Summersalt was overall an enjoyable event and the more beach gigs gracing Adelaide’s long coast line this summer the better.
Photography by Nigel Liefrink