Spin Off @ Adelaide Showgrounds, Wayville SA 19/7/2019

Adelaide was blessed with a gorgeous sunny day for Spin Off 2019 at the Wayville Showgrounds. Walking in while Mallrat was delivering Groceries to a vocal audience in the big top, it was reminiscent of Big Day Out events of old. The site was packed with people and the fashion choices were strongly hooked on the 90s, with a splash of extra glitter.

With only one stage there were no timetable clashes or stresses about getting anywhere on time and organisers had also set up screens outside the tent so you could catch the action without getting squished.

After checking my bag and grabbing a beer it was time to find a spot for Hockey Dad. It’s easy to forget that it’s just two guys making their sound, but Billy Fleming and Zach Stephenson filled the room with fun time slacker rock that was popular with the crowd. Highlights were Homely Feeling, I Wanna Be Everybody and Join the Club, which got everyone singing along.

Wolf Alice’s guitar-drenched rock was next on the line up and their set was nothing short of captivating. Ellie Rowsell nailed every vocal while bass player Theo Ellis was jumping about with a huge grin on his face. He declared it was the ‘first festival of summer’ for the band, which gave us a little giggle in the crowd. The set ranged from head banging guitar riffs to ambient reflection, ticking off tracks Moaning Lisa Smile, Beautifully Unconventional and Don’t Delete the Kisses, while taking the chance to break briefly for the crowd to sing Happy Birthday to Ellie.

From the moment Ball Park Music came on stage there was a lot of love in the room. The band dished up an hour of pure pop perfection and the crowd knew every single word. Front man Sam Cromack chatted to the crowd between songs, hyping everyone up to party and saying how much he loves Adelaide (which never goes astray). It’s hard to pick crowd favourites from this set, but highlights were Coming Down played to a sea of phone torches, Surrender dedicated to Sam’s sister, and I Love You Exactly As You Are, accompanied by Sam’s pleas of ‘don’t change Adelaide’.

Ocean Alley were up next, with a surf rock sound that touched on roots reggae with Yellow Mellow and got a little sexy on Partner in Crime. They played a fun set but it wasn’t until the bass line of Confidence kicked in late in their hour that the crowd finally woke up and let loose. The Hottest 100 winner was undoubtedly the highlight of their performance and what everyone had been waiting for.

Now, I’ve got a soft spot for British alt-rock and had highly anticipated finally catching Catfish and The Bottlemen. From the get-go there was no holding back, as lead singer Van McCann threw himself and his guitar around the stage. He was ready to party and was going to take us with him whether we liked it or not. Kathleen got everyone moving early in the set and Twice, Longshot and 7 also gained huge love from the crowd. By closing song Tyrants, Van McCann was drenched in sweat having put every piece of his energy into a great show.

Once the stage lights had gone down, anticipation in the tent started to ramp up for headliner, Childish Gambino. From the moment the choir started singing refrains from Algorhythm and Donald Glover was revealed, frozen in the spotlight at the top of the catwalk while the crowd screamed and scrambled to catch a glimpse or a photo, he had us hooked.

Every element of the set was produced to the highest quality. From lighting, to movement, to sound it was a ride that picked up the crowd and didn’t put us down. The band was tight as hell, delivering RnB and funk hooks, breakdowns and time changes without missing a beat. And up front, Glover delivered on so many levels. Busting out soul screams worthy of James Brown and Prince, spitting out rhymes with the crowd keeping pace and dancing with the absolute intent that each movement delivered maximum impact.

The set rolled through the Childish Gambino catalogue of recent years. From the smooth grooves of Feels Like Summer through the choral Have Some Love to the frantic energy that hit the room when the first strains of This Is America prompted everyone to jump along with Glover and his supporting dancers. Glover disappeared as the song faded out and the dancers were still giving up some impressive acrobatics but, with a few cheeky prompts on the big screens, he was rowdily cheered back to the stage and closed out the set at peak hype with Sober, 3005, Sweatpants and Redbone. The performance totally lived up to expectations, delivering a fully realised live music experience conducted by a performer who knows when to go, when to stop, and how to take the crowd along for the ride.

While Childish Gambino was the highlight of my day, the calibre and variety of artists on stage at Spin Off ensured that all punters could find something that fits their niche. Away from the stage there were plenty of great food choices, places to chill, quick bar service, amusements and a party in the market alley. Something for everyone.

Live Review By Sarah Martin