AltFest is a sensational event celebrating diversity and equality
Reviewed at WOODVILLE TOWN HALL on SATURDAY 29/06/2019
Historic Greek statesman Demosthenes once said: “Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises” and to be perfectly frank, this statement is an ideal summation for the brand new Adelaide festival AltFest. Celebrating diversity in the arts in a revamped classical location in the outer suburbs of Adelaide, Woodville Town Hall was truthfully an exemplary venue to host the event. With the added bonus of Big Shed Brewing Concern supplying superb food and beverages, the recipe was quintessential for a memorable time – which is what transpired.
Kicking the event off was Melbourne-based Marz with his backing band, who supplied a Glamanorous (not a spelling error) sass to the stage instantaneously. The four-piece’s brand of pop-pub-rock lands somewhere between the alternative rock of Placebo, the balladry of The Whitlams and a hint of grunge not too dissimilar to Bush. It is a solid foundation for their musical direction, but it does at times, follow a formula that is perhaps a bit too “stable”. The tracks performed were of impenetrable suave and infectiously concise; however with how much production is put into the live set (Marz himself was presented in a phenomenal Dr. Frank-N-Furter inspired outfit), a little more unpredictability in sound would really boost their showcase. That’s not to say it wasn’t delivered – the new single Horrorhead inspired by mental health issues, is an uppercut of punchy rock that motivated the audience impeccably; an act to lookout for as it feels like there is something brewing here which will grab the attention of enthusiasts on quite a large scale.
The phenomenon that is Queensland’s Sahara Beck was to follow and within moments of her opening song I Don’t Want To Break Your Heart she had successfully hypnotised and enraptured the entire venue into a symphonic bliss. Almost effortlessly this songstress captivates those privileged to witness her and has the same compelling effect of some of the greats including: Alicia Keys, Amy Winehouse, Macy Gray and Halsey. With a varying soundtrack that could be used in a Quentin Tarantino film (with a R&B flavour) as her platform, there was a polite prowess utilised in the performance that boasted a maturity that was impossible to quantify. Kryptonite, Here We Go Again, I Haven’t Done A Thing Today and a charismatic cover of Queen’s We Are The Champions were highlights; honestly though, the whole set was mesmerising and this impact was only exemplified by Sahara’s charming between song banter. This was to going to be a tough act to follow.
The only international act to be featured at AltFest was the UK’s Z-Star Trinity and they certainly had a task set before them; but if the three-piece were suffering any pre-show nerves, they were violently crucified once they hit the stage. The psychedelic-blues-rock trio were here to enforce energy with their own musical anarchy and they accomplished this superbly. 16 Tons Of Love and an interlude of Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love were above electrifying, they were in fact Earth moving. Front-woman and guitarist Zee Gachette is superhuman with her presence, to the point that a notable influence of theirs Queens Of The Stone Age would feel understandably threatened by her mammoth aura; it must be told that this was expertly accentuated by drummer Beck Flatt who was frighteningly maniacal in her role. Unbelievably there was still more to come.
The musical production that is Dallas Frasca is a journey more than an experience. This isn’t a “rock show”, it is far more grand, it is in fact theatrical. Three guitarists and three backing singers are just a part of this cinematic ensemble and it is a jaw-dropping adventure to undertake. Dallas herself is a force to be reckoned with, her voice thunders over a wall of sound emitted from the six other musicians and it literally brings the roof down (parts of plaster did fall from the ceiling). In a sense, the production is rather similar to observing a live version of School Of Rock or even Sister Act – it is beautifully extravagant and bewitching. Hey Mumma, Rise, Wasting Time, Catch Me When I Fall, You Are Beautiful, a rendition of The Beatles‘ Come Together, Punch Me Harder and All My Love wowed the crowd into submission. Alternatively, they were often brought out of this subdued state by the high energy and interaction, which even included Ms Frasca joining the audience off-stage for a sing-along. It was a flawless ending to a significant festival.
In conclusion, AltFest is a sensational event celebrating diversity and equality that is still in its infancy stage. There is an overwhelming potential for astronomical growth (see aforementioned Demosthenes quote), but it is in development. Upon its return, be sure to mark it in the “must see” pages of your calendar, because this feels like the beginning to something exceptional.
4 out 5 stars