Live Review: Sydney City Limits 2018
Sydney has been known to host many of Australia’s best music festivals, but others have not come close to rival 2018’s newest addition, Sydney City Limits. With four other competitors (Tell No Tales, Road to Ultra, Lost City U18’s, and Secret Garden) all vying for attendees on February 24th, Sydney City Limits had the highest attendance to date. Secret Sounds, the hosts of Sydney City Limits, came in strong this year with a line-up including Justice, Beck, Dune Rats, Oh Wonder, Tkay Mazda and Future.
Located within the often-entertaining Centennial Park, Sydney City Limits was perfectly centralised within its marketing strategy: it is one of the only festivals to be found within the centre of Sydney. Upon entering Centennial Park, festival-goers were treated to a lovely afternoon walk towards the entrance of the festival, to be greeted by an array of staff, police, and everyone’s favourite, drug sniffing dogs. After a few mildly entertaining arrests were completed outside of the festival, I descended through the entrance to see the what the incredible lineup had to offer.
Once through the entrance, festival-goers were greeted to another round of drug sniffers (at least they are cute right?) before heading to the circus-like tents that hosted an array of reasonably priced (for a festival) craft beers. There were two adjoining areas with a plethora of food options ranging from Mary’s, Lankan, Bad Hombres and Gourmet Gozleme to satisfy the masses. The only unsatisfying concept for these amazing restaurants is that the festival was short on food options by 7pm.
Alongside the array of food options, the festival offered a boutique shopping area for those who needed a break from the extensively long cues for the loo and the busy staging areas.
While there were many Australian talent at this year’s festival, three made a lasting impression—The Avalanches, Grace Jones, and Tash Sultana.
The Avalanches were easily the best act of the afternoon sets across the four stages, commanding attention even from the two triple j stages nearby. After a 15-year hiatus in the music scene, The Avalanches came back with a colourful third album, ‘Wildflower’. Their anticipated return to the festival scene was met with much appreciation by the crowd here in Sydney.
The band created a scene jumping around the stage with the energy of a four year old given a packet a Skittles. The most popular songs of the set included Because I’m Me, Subways and the ol’ favourite Since I Left You. Aside from announcing fan birthdays to the 10,000+ crowd, the group continued with famous hits such as Frankie Sinatra and Frontier Psychiatrist.
Grace Freaking Jones. If you have not witnessed a performance of hers, consult YouTube. Grace Jones is an international name in entertainment—with influences of Jamaica, America, and the United Kingdom, she has paved the route for many androgynous characters to enter the music industry. She began her set with an array of colourful and gothic costuming, before shedding her layers for a very naked and vulnerable performance.
She slayed through her set with an abundance of extra performers, pole dancers, and exploring within the crowd amidst her numerous costume changes. Grace stunned the crowd with her renditions of Slave to the Rhythm, La Vie en Rose, Warm Leatherette, and Pull Up to the Bumper.
Australia’s new golden child, this Maltese-Australian singer is beginning to blow up international circuits, or in this case bring down SCL big top. Before beginning her set, Tash emotionally told the crowd that if anyone is homophobic and transphobic that they need to leave the set immediately—a very bold move for the up and coming musician.
The much anticipated set did not disappoint, beginning with Tash’s hits Higher and Blackbird. As the evening developed, she brought out the trumpet for her rendition of Murder to the Mind. Tash tore down the tent with her rendition of Jungle, with her guitar’s emanating sounds that would hit the back of the tent.
Sigrid has quickly become this year’s up and coming starlet with hit tunes Don’t Kill My Vibe and Strangers intensely taking over the pop music scene. The young Norwegian took to the stage quickly, and performed other songs including Plot Twist and Dynamite in the unique style that is all her own.
Gang of Youths
The local Aussie band was a huge hit at Sydney City Limits, drawing quite an impressive crowd for such an early set. The beginning of the festival had difficulties with sound on the triple j stages, and Gang of Youths fell victim.
Amidst a lack of sound or emergence of music, Gang of Youths front runner David Le’aupepe entertained the crowd with dancing, leaping, and head bashing to Strange Diseases, Let Me Down Easy, and The Heart Is a Muscle.
The well-known Australian vocalist attracted exactly the crowd to be expected: women of all ages ready to sing the wrong lyrics to Riptide. While Vance Joy held out on giving in to the fan’s pleas, he played other favourites including The Fire and The Flood, We’re Going Home, and Call If You Need Me.
The Sydney-based band bravely went up against the timing and location of Grace Jones’ stage, and held their ground. As usual, Ocean Alley prepared festival fans for Tash Sultana’s set with an array of eccentric lighting and bouncing plastic balls to entertain. With their set starting twenty minutes before Jones’, the trio had ample time to show the fans and onlookers what they’re made of with songs like Confidence, Yellow Mellow, and The Comedown.
Secret Sounds have a reason to celebrate Sydney City Limits first year in motion. Although there were issues regarding long toilet queues, food options running thin, and agonising stage clashes, these are all aspects that can be managed for years to come.
The festival had a well curated VIP area called The Grove, which many other Sydney festivals could learn from, along with top-notch security that future attendees should be aware of in advance (check the news, pals).
AAA Backstage is looking forward to the line-up for next year. Announce the news already, put us out of our misery!
See our stunning, full galley from Sydney City Limits HERE.
Photos by Ruby Boland