Governor Hindmarsh, Sun 20 Sep
Warming up the night were the smooth and groove sounds of Bobby Alu & Band, who got The Gov vibe pumping with their fusion of afro-soul rhythms. Multi-instrumentalist Bobby Alu mixed it up with ukulele and percussion and kept the dancers content.
The crowd were quite receptive to Bobby Alu but it was Xavier Rudd they were waiting for: the opening tones and visuals were entrancing, setting an atmosphere of a dance party, with strobe lighting and thumping beats. Rudd appeared centre stage looking very fit and pseudo-dapper, sporting a feather rimmed top-hat and waistcoat whilst highlighting his bare chested physique. And so the scene was set for a reggae infused dub-step rave. Rudd’s current show is a far cry from the rootsy and mostly acoustic gig I saw years ago. Instead Rudd has embraced an electric, trance, intensity-building approach of a DJ. Each song was a groove marathon, lasting easily 5-10 minutes and the energy was as palpable as the strobe lighting.
Starting the set with Spirits Of The Ancients and progressing through a number of tracks from their latest album Flag, Xavier Rudd & The United Nations maintained the energy with all the usual devices of volume drops and breaks, featuring various members of the band along the way.
Rudd regularly used hand motions high above his head and the audience followed like an affirmation of a physical mantra in response. The obligatory rave elements were all there and Rudd gave out the expected cry of ‘How ya feelin’ Adelaaaaide!’. Sound devices such as echo and reverb were boosted, and if I didn’t know Rudd could pull off an acoustic show without them there would be concerns should the power go down. However, Rudd proved it’s not all about the technology and lighting spectacular, as he played a number of acoustic based songs later in the set, and nailed it! Roots-dub-step is perhaps the new festival sound.