Festival Review: Australian Open of Surfing
To start off the sunny Friday afternoon on the lovely Manly Beach were Sydney locals Mansionair. The atmosphere was filled with relaxed vibes as punters crowded the barricade and others loitered around the beach or sat comfortably on the sand. Mansionair illuminated the already bright atmosphere with their flowing sounds, ambient electronic breakdowns and simple structured pop sensibility. The skittish guitar riffs, lush, smooth and laid back vocal frequencies within the repetitive tune ‘Hold Me Down’ fitted the Manly Beach crowd to a tee.
Shortly after, Cloud Control began with their catchy hit ‘Dojo Rising’. The four members of the band appeared multifaceted as they each played their instruments as well as sang in perfect harmonic tune. They aced their rhythmic layering as their voices each tumbled up on one another and blended perfectly throughout their enthralling set. ‘Gold Canary’ hyped up the audience with its hypnotic beat, which encouraged clapping, grooving, singing along, and more people on their feet than before; mesmerised by the percussive quality. Cloud Control came across slightly cheeky with their wild smiles and soft snickers to one another, their nonchalant stage presence made them seem like friends – familiar and responsive. They ended with their single ‘Scar’ showcasing their knack for poetic lyrics and polished layering.
On the Saturday of the Australian Open Of Surfing, the crowds began to fill Manly Beach for a scorcher of a day. The sun was out and the already filled crowd glowing as Kita Alexander took to the stage. Her low, but soothing voice vibrated through the speakers and out into the atmosphere. ‘My Own Way’ built up an intriguing rhythm; this mixed with Alexander’s joyous presence and groovy swaying, equalled a real great set filled with beach-babe ditties. In her tune ‘High Tops’ the lyrics sometimes seemed cliché, although her tone made up for this as it oozed with certain richness only found in classic jazz. To end, Alexander played her hit ‘Like You Want To’ which got the newly packed to the rafter’s audience cheering, singing and grooving along.
Manly Beach became filled with onlookers from each and every angle as Angus And Julia Stone began their faultless set. They started with ‘It’s All Okay’ a song released in 2012 from Julia Stone’s album By The Horns. It was mainly a piano ballad, although was filled with static and passionate anger that resonated through Julia’s raspy tone. Interestingly, it fitted in completely with the sound of their latest album self-titled . They then followed with ‘Crash And Burn’ where Angus brought his nonchalant brilliance to the foreground. His charming drawl and endearing lyrics reeked with intensity, like a cold stare. Julia whispered out harmonies and picked up her tambourine as she swayed around effortlessly in the sea breeze, the tune instantly becoming lighter. ‘Death Defying Acts’ was deep, eerie and electrifying, as Julia’s vocal runs seemed divinely inspired. She impeccably shredded through her soft, sweet gasping melodies and then managed to transition into a forceful and passionate howl on the lyric “I’m nothing at all”, like a wolf.
‘Private Lawns’ instantly lightened up the scene with its natural playfulness, banjo jamming and trumpet solo from Julia; a novelty that was a real crowd pleaser. They continued the light-hearted brother and sister melodic banter with ‘My Word For It’ a tune from their latest album. “This song was in a surf lifesaving ad, it might’ve even been filmed here” Julia commented before starting ‘For You’, easily one of the nicest love songs ever composed. They played the second verse with a newfound intensity not included in the recorded version, a new buzzing force to push the song forward. A choir of audience voices sang out the chorus of ‘For You’ as Angus And Julia Stone looked out, smiling from ear to ear.
“You guys are really awesome” Angus muttered before starting their hit ‘Big Jet Plane’ getting the audience extremely pumped. Julia danced around like a fairy as she played a new catchy riff with her electric guitar, and Angus demanded attention with his tranquil stance. They then finished with “A Heartbreak” the feature single from their newest release. The chilled rock vibes and the contagious and repeated riff really stood out. Angus and Julia grooved around together, singing and laughing to each other as if they were letting everyone in on a personal joke. Their voices blended like velvet to finish the flawless show; not a hiccup to report.
Images by Liam Molloy