Music festival review: Vintage Vibes

PHOTO GALLERY: Is there anything more quintessentially South Australian than a festival nestled among the Adelaide Hills vineyards? Well, how about a music event offering time and space for coffee between acts or a stop at a barber giving free cuts?

Apr 03, 2023, updated Apr 03, 2023
Tash Sultana closed out day one of the Vintage Vibes festival in the Adelaide Hills. Photo: Andrew Beveridge

Tash Sultana closed out day one of the Vintage Vibes festival in the Adelaide Hills. Photo: Andrew Beveridge

Add in the fact it’s a mere 40 minutes from the CBD, with parking available – one of the perks of our city of convenience. And at every toilet stop, reconfiguration of the mosh pit or line at the bar you recognise someone from a university lecture, a local footy team, or a Tinder match.

This is the best of Adelaide and this festival was the best of vibes.

The inaugural line-up for South Australia’s newest festival, Vintage Vibes, held at Tomich Wines on Saturday and Sunday, spanned demographics and genres.

Early on was Adelaide’s own West Thebarton. As they listed off suburbs we know – Prospect, Bowden, Grange, Brighton, Mile End, Port Adelaide – in their song “Moving Out”, the crowd in front of the stage grew, and those sitting on the lawn eating lunch began bobbing along.

They were followed by Donny Benet, an Australian artist with a devoted following – so much so, there was a Benet doppelganger who became known to all, walking around the festival wearing a balding cap and carrying a blow-up guitar.

Then came a festival highlight that brought the vintage to the vibes: Leo Sayer. Donning a tiger-themed shirt, crisp white jeans, a flannel, and the iconic hairstyle that has barely changed from the ’70s, he held the audience in the palm of his hand.

Sayer charmed both young and old. To the left were a group in their early 20s belting out “Thunder in My Heart”; to the right, there was a man in his 80s, wearing a Red Bull-branded cap, bobbing along to “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing”, while his wife danced up a storm.

At the end of his set – which ran about 10 minutes overtime and sent stage managers into panic – Sayer reminded the audience he was 75 years old and still grooving, so we have no excuse.

Leo Sayer charmed both young and old. Photo: Andrew Beveridge

After watching in the wings, thoroughly entertained by Sayer, Babe Rainbow took to the stage with their psychedelic rock tunes. The afternoon that came was well-paced and diverse, moving from the surf culture of Babe Rainbow to Aussie electronic hip-hop duo Hermitude, to The Temper Trap, who took the audience to sunset, in a picturesque setting, closing with “Sweet Disposition”.

As the night rolled on, Vintage Vibes-branded hoodies sold out, and people huddled out of anticipation of the headliners, but also for warmth.

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, an Australian rock band with 23 albums to their name (they released four in 2022 alone) warmed up the audience with an hour of non-stop rock that demanded people move their bodies.

As audiences waited for Tash Sultana, who would close day one, phones shot into the air in a desperate search for reception to check the Showdown score. But as the final act made their way on stage, the phones were put away and fans converged at the musician’s feet.

Sultana’s act features a plethora of instruments – saxophone, keyboard, percussion, guitar – all played by the solo performer and enhanced on a loop pedal. The Vintage Vibes set was precise, and audience members were transfixed as they watched tracks being pieced together in front of their eyes.

Day two started to really kick off when San Cisco hit the stage. Their charm and groove had crowds dancing in unison. They were followed by Middle Kids, who played hit after hit and were crowd favourites.

Next, Angus and Julia Stone graced the stage, with fans shining their phone torches and crying at “Big Jet Plane”. Their set was mellow, moving and visually stunning.

Angus and Julia Stone. Photo: Iain Bond

Then came the final act for which people had held their spots – no toilet breaks, no extra drinks, perhaps even no dinner. Gang of Youths are one of the most-loved Aussie bands on any circuit and you would be hard-pressed to find a more devoted crowd.

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Lead singer David Le’aupepe talked about his soft spot for Adelaide. Gang of Youths’ first gig was at the Exeter, and he recalled spending the day at Brighton (apparently his wife wants to move here). In the freezing cold, with aching feet and tired eyes on a Sunday night, all audience members wanted from the band was more.

In its inaugural year, Vintage Vibes set a high standard, hitting the sweet spot that appeals to music lovers young and old. Adelaide audiences are sure to want to see it return.

Vintage Vibes photo gallery:

Gang of Youths were a hit with the Vintage Vibes crowd. Photo: Iain Bond

West Thebarton were an early festival highlight. Photo: Andrew Beveridge

SA singer-songwriter Jess Day. Photo: Iain Bond

Tash Sultana at Vintage Vibes. Photo: Andrew Beveridge

Local indie rock group Oscar the Wild. Photo: Iain Bond

Electronic hip-hop duo Hermitude. Photo: Iain bond

Gang of Youths frontman Dave Le’aupepe. Photo: Iain Bond

Vintage Vibes drew a large crowd of music lovers to the Hills. Photo: Iain Bond

We Move Like Giants. Photo: Andrew Beveridge

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard served up non-stop rock. Photo: Iain Bond

Tash Sultana’s performance featured a plethora of instruments. Photo: Andrew Beveridge

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