Words by Victoria Bihun.
Photos by Damien Stacey and Josh Groom.
We kicked off day 2 in the mighty Mojo tent with the inimitable guitar boss, Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram. *Pew pew pew*
He was my favourite performer from last year’s Bluesfest, and it seemed I wasn’t alone. Word had spread about the mastery of this Mississippi maestro and the Mojo tent was packed to the rim. We were treated to his blazing guitar solos and emotive melodies as well as incredible musicianship from his talented band. The quieter, calmer moments were mesmerising and his signature crowd moves once again titillated the audience, making them feel part of the show.
It was a quick dash to the Crossroads tent to catch the powerful, soaring vocal prowess of LP, aka Laura Pergolizzi. LP is a dynamic artist whose unique blend of indie, folk, pop and incredible songwriting ability have made her a standout in the music industry. Her power ballad opening was a killer way to begin her set, where she fully showcased her impressive vocal range. Her whistle tones in particular were phenomenal. Overall, LP was an absolute stand-out performer and let’s hope to see her fresh and innovative music at many future Bluesfests.
Next up was the Australian guitar wizard, Daniel Champagne. His performance was a captivating and virtuosic display of multitasking at its finest. Champagne mesmerised the audience with his extended technical dexterity and heartfelt song writing and were clearly floored by the sound world he was creating from his bespoke “indestructible guitar”. His performance was spellbinding and unforgettable and further solidified his place as one of the most talented and exciting acoustic guitarists on the scene today.
We headed across to the Mojo tent for an incredibly moving tribute to the late Uncle Archie Roach. Uncle Archie was a highly acclaimed Australian singer-songwriter and guitarist, known for his powerful and emotive storytelling through music and a pioneering voice for Indigenous Australians. His soulful vocals, intricate guitar work, and heartfelt lyrics that touch on themes of identity, struggle and hope and his ability to connect with the audience through his music was truly remarkable. Through storytelling and music, many artists turned out to pay tribute to the life and legacy of the Gunditjmara and Bundjalung elder, which was a fitting way to honour this true icon of Australian music.
Following this beautiful tribute, we headed back to the Crossroads tent to witness the genre-defying musician and songwriter, Beck. A musician whose career spans several decades and multiple styles, today we were being treated to acoustic Beck. His eclectic approach, seamless blend of rock, folk and hip-hop and clever often surreal lyrics have earned him a dedicated fan base, who were out in full force under the tent. Always with a keen willingness to experiment, Beck has consistently pushed the boundaries of what is possible in popular music, and tonight was no different. Beck delivered us a brand new “original” track, proudly brought to you by AI. I think it's safe to say no one needs to worry about AI taking over song writing any time soon… Overall, Beck’s performance was a fresh, innovative set of paired back hits and endearing storytelling.
A brief post-Beck-break allowed for a quick sourdough donut before heading to the Mojo tent to see Rirratjingu musician, Yirrmal. His set began almost acapella, showcasing his strong, impressive vocal range before launching into crowd-bopping treasure. Showcasing songs from his new album and accompanied by beautiful visuals, his somewhat reggae vibes combining chant-like Indigenous language with a funky beat were a hit within the Mojo tent. A new face for me, who I cannot wait to see perform again.
For our final performance of the day we were off to the Crossroads tent to catch the Spectacular Spectacular that was the Gang of Youths. They delivered an explosive and high-energy performance, complete with fabulous hairography by front-man David Le’aupepe, which could only be rivalled by Roxxxy Andrews. The heaving tent was immediately buzzing with excitement, especially with the addition of a dazzling light show. Le’aupepe’s raw and emotive vocals, coupled with the band’s anthem-like guitar riffs and driving rhythms created a dynamic sound that filled the Crossroads tent. Overall, their performance was a tour de force of rock and roll and a brilliant way to cap off Day 2.