With Bluesfest less than two weeks away, we now face that annual problem of how the hell do you plan out 5 massive days?! Bluesfest is one of Australia’s most jam-packed festivals (pun intended?) and always features so many names it can legitimately be overwhelming. In order to help out, we’ve done the impossible and picked the 9 sets you absolutely can’t miss. Check out the Bluesfest playing schedule here, and get those highlighters ready!
Patti Smith And Her Band Perform Horses
Yeah, we’re starting with the obvious one, but how can you not?! Patti Smith’s 1975 album Horses is one of the most influential punk albums ever recorded, and one of the greatest albums of all time. And she’s performing the entire thing live for the last time in Australia. Pretty sure that’s the Oxford Dictionary definition of unmissable.
Booker T Presents The Stax Revue
What’s Bluesfest without a healthy dose of blues and soul classics? Our top pick this year – the legend who brought ‘Green Onions’ to life at the age of only 17! As well as his own hits, Booker T will be playing classics from across the Stax Records catalogue like ‘Hold On, I’m Coming’ (Sam & Dave) and ‘Respect’ (Aretha Franklin). Get ready to boogie.
Leading the Australian charge this year is Courtney Barnett – with new material in tow! It sounds like she’ll be heading in a completely different direction for her second LP, teasing that it could be “just me and a piano”. Consider us intrigued…
As evidenced on his incredible debut, Ology, Gallant had one of the most distinct and impressive voices in R&B last year…and it’s even better live!
Michael Kiwanuka is no stranger to Australia, and it’s easy to see why. With that beautiful, soulful sound, he’s welcome back anytime! When he was here for Splendour in the Grass last year, his second album Love & Hate had only just come out, and its appeal was still sinking in. Now that we’ve had time to pour over the incredible album, we can’t wait to hear it again.
NAS & The Soul Rebels
Last year, Bluesfest managed to throw a (very welcomed) curveball by booking hip-hop favourite Kendrick Lamar, and they’ve done it again this year with NAS. Regarded as one of the greatest MCs of all time, NAS will be playing a very special Bluesfest set with The Soul Rebels, an eight piece brass ensemble from New Orleans.
No matter how cynical you may claim to be, there’s no denying that a mass singalong is a cornerstone of any good musical festival. We think it’s pretty safe to say that legendary Crowded House frontman Neil Finn will be delivering these in spades. Polish off those vocal pipes, and make sure you’ve got all the words down for this set.
Mary J Blige
Mary J Blige is THE Queen of Hip-Hop and is bringing her unique and influential blend of hip-hop and soul to Bluesfest for the first time. Enough said.
Repping Australian hip-hop at it’s best is REMI. His latest release, Divas and Demons, was one of our favourites of last year, and will make for an epic live set.