More than simply a music festival, WOMAD is a four-day haven in the gorgeous Botanic Park, that brings together a huge variety of age groups and still manages to provide something for everyone. WOMAD lets Adelaide put on its finest floral outfits, take its defences down and approach others with kindness and humour.
On Friday, I was keen to catch the folksy stylings of Geordie McKeeman and his Rhythm Boys. The crowd loved these guys and there was some serious heel-toe action happening. I had no idea about genre anymore because every act falls into ten different styles, but to me it was bluegrass, folk, country and kinda Celtic at times. More importantly it was fast-paced and a lot of fun. MacKeeman is charming and earnest and the band put many smiles on many faces during their set.
WOMAD did an excellent job on events this year. The Colour of Time was a massive hit with all ages and looked phenomenal as the sun set over Botanic Park. Exxopolis had huge line-ups for their mind-bending light and colour inflatable palace and Osadia was another big highlight, with their gravity-defying hair creations turning ordinary festival goers into minor celebrities for the day. My favourite transformation was an older, bearded gentleman who was turned into a beaming riot of carnival colours and fluffy dice. His wife looked a bit shocked by the end, but the smile on his face was absolutely priceless and he carried his new look with humour and grace.
I also visited Street in the Park, where I treated myself to a fancy sit-down dinner. It made a change from crouching over a paper plate in the dust, and everything I tried tasted beautiful and looked even better. I thought it was great to have some different dining options, but I have to say I prefer mixing with the crowds at the food stalls. This year there were more stalls than ever, with lots of Adelaide’s favourite food trucks and plenty of new options to try.
The good thing I’ve found about fusion music is that if you find the right band, you can tick all the boxes of your favourite genres in one show. For me, this was Balkan Beat Box from Brooklyn via Tel Aviv. The three piece combines Mediterranean, Balkan and Middle Eastern influences with electronica and a little bit of hip-hop. There was even some 60s surfie guitar and dancehall disco sirens thrown in for good measure. It made for a really satisfying show – excellent performers, unexpected musical twists and a solid danceable beat the whole way through.
And that’s the thing about WOMAD – you just spend all day walking around, eating food, people watching, catching up with friends and listening to beautiful music from across the spectrum of musical genres. Even when you’re dog-tired after three days, it’s really difficult to feel down when the atmosphere is so relaxed. By the end of the festival my wallet was completely empty, but I was grateful to forget my troubles and let those good festival vibes wash over me.
By Salome Wilson