Fringe Ignite - Saturday 2nd September
It's Saturday arvo and I’ve had a rough week. Work was a stress, plus I came off my bike on the way home Thursday, which means after spending most of Friday in emergency I’m now sporting an arm cast in a sling.
That said, as I walk through Chippendale in the newly awakened spring sun I’m actually in positive spirits. I visited White Rabbit Gallery in the early afternoon and I’m doing considerably better than the crucified Mickey Mouse fountain spraying its silver blood in gleeful arcs through the foyer.
First thing I see at Kensington St. is the Truck Stage where self-proclaimed black Ryan Gosling, Crooked Letter is playing. Not sure I see the resemblance but he's a smooth AF liquid lyricist who makes the versatile switch from MC to beat master playing instrumental jams with ease.
I bump into my mate Benji who’s helping to run the show and he tells me I should head down to Handpicked Wines to check out Broken Mountain. The urban cellar door is open and breezy. It’s nice. I wonder why I’ve never dropped in here before. Hopefully the live music takes hold and they’ll keep pulling in new punters. I order myself a cracking Margaret River Chardonnay and notice my old bandmate Nick on drums. The band is awesome; free jazz Jeff Buckley with maybe a splash of James Blake.
My girlfriend has joined me by now and we head out past the Caravan Stage, a literal trailer home with one wall propped up. Colourfields are playing. They remind me of BADBADNOTGOOD meets early Pivot.
It’s 5 pm and the alley is starting to fill up. It’s a real community vibe, a feeling Sydney has been lacking since the Lockouts. But Fringe Ignite is proving that night time culture is still possible.
Kaiit, channelling Lauren Hill, summons a grooving crowd to her at the Truck Stage. During her amazing track Natural Woman, Kaiit looks me right in the eye and I’m stunned – captivated. At just 19 this PNG-born, Melbourne-based muso is in for big things, no doubt. Watch this space.
I bump into another friend and we’re bee-lining to The Cottage for some spoken word. I catch the end of L-Fresh’s set. He’s dropping truth bombs, drawing on his south Sydney roots and repping Liverpool. His words reflecting on the ongoing impacts of colonisation and directions for the future hit hard in the setting of this old sandstone cottage.
It’s around now that I notice that this might be the most diverse line-up I’ve ever seen in inner city Sydney. This sentiment is echoed by Froyo back at the Truck Stage. He says, “Diversity isn't hard. Let this be a call out to industry.” Amen. And then they burst into Blood Orange-inspired 80s pop and my wish that there was a little more saxophone at this street party has come true. Because here's some saxophone, right... now.
I’m floored by the calibre of diverse talent in this little laneway. And not just racial and cultural diversity. There are a lot of women and queer artists on these stages. Wallace, with her smoky vocals from a Bond theme accompanied by a Rhodes Mk II, sings about a character from a Dickens novel while, from a nearby balcony, Stereogamous bounce danceable tunes to help people in the street below work off their Spice Alley dumplings. The people next to me say: I feel like we could be in Europe somewhere. And we totally could.
We wrap up with the indomitable Ngaiire giving a jaw-dropping rendition of Dirty Hercules. She thanks Fringe for giving her the chance to book her friends and I have to agree. Thank you Fringe, for showing Sydney how Sydney is done.
Bounce back tomorrow for Eleni's coverage of the HeapsGay Masqueerade
Written by Max Rapley