It has been a while since I’ve been to the Entertainment Centre. Most gigs I attend are in smaller venues like pubs or clubs. Last year, if I had wanted to see Tash Sultana, that’s where I would have needed to go. Since then her shows have been getting bigger and bigger, playing festivals all over Australia and just recently returning from around five months touring America and Europe. Adelaide is the first stop of her homecoming tour.
Willow Beats started off the night, enthusiastically asking if we wanted to dance. Most of their songs only prompted swaying, but if the between song applause was anything to go by, the crowd were certainly enjoying it. The uncle – niece duo from Melbourne make dreamy, spacey, atmospheric beats, which I imagine match their personalities. Their songs cover issues from climate change to pirates, and also the importance of looking after your mental health. Chief vocalist Kalyani Mumtaz thanked the audience for being so chill. Thank you, Willow Beats!
The Pierce Brothers woke everybody up, barrelling headlong into an excellent set clearly inspired by John Butler and Mumford and Sons. And there’s most definitely nothing wrong with that. I really enjoy watching stand up drummers who play at the front of the stage. Like Tali White from The Lucksmiths, except a totally different style, but still with a distinct aussie sound. Brothers Jack and Patrick Pierce are brimming with energy. They’re excited. They’re outright stoked to be here and most especially to be supporting their friend. There’s guitars, a didgeridoo, harmonica, drums both traditional and whatever ends up being hit, from an acoustic guitar to the floor of the stage. There’s gymnastics, crowd participation and spontaneous arm waving to the slower numbers. Even moments in the last song where both brothers were playing the same guitar. As of last night, The Pierce Brothers are everyone’s new favourite band.
I’ve been really nervous about reviewing this show. I was worried that while Tash Sultana played, I wouldn’t be able to pay enough attention to get a decent review out of myself. Every time I’ve watched videos of her playing, I get sucked in to the intricacies of her performance and the joy that positively beams from her. I go to a place I imagine she goes while she’s playing and I’m lost there until long after the song has ended. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but maybe it is for a review.
Stood on a riser and surrounded by instruments, Tash starts to sing and my best friend turns to me and says ‘I might cry’. Meanwhile I am stood still with my mouth hanging open, wondering if I can submit a giant wow emoji as my assessment of the night. She is so free, so happy, so unbelievably talented. She is full of joy and unashamedly proud. And why wouldn’t she be? She’s been playing sold out shows all over the world and now she’s back in her home country, filling the room with loops and beats and a strong, soulful yet still fragile voice.
Tash has rules for the people at her shows. The main rule is all encompassing – no dickheads. Dickheads will not be tolerated. Dickhead behaviour includes homophobia, racism and transphobia. If you suffer from any of these, you have been asked to leave. She is inspirational, telling us stories of her time in a very bad place, battling with mental illness, and her realisation that she is the boss of her life. If you hate your job, quit your job. If you’re with someone who doesn’t love you like they should, dump that someone. Her energy is contagious. The whole room is dancing and hanging on her every word. Tash is smiling so big, it’s infecting all of us. She’s hopping around playing pan flute like a fire sprite and we are loving it. Tash Sultana is welcome back any time.
Review by Carly Whittaker