The Sydney sun is setting before 5pm, Andrew Thomas Huang’s Austral Flora Ballet adorns the Opera House sails and the Central Station clock tower has become a technicolour beacon. Vivid Sydney is in full swing.
This year’s Vivid LIVE music program is typically vast, ranging from international superstars like The Cure and Herbie Hancock to local luminaires Dirty Three and a reformed The Middle East. Plus contemporary big hitters like Maggie Rogers and compelling, emerging artists like Kelsey Lu.
As is the case every year, the Vivid program also includes a number of exclusive shows. Here are four that you don’t want to miss.
It’s been a year since Kanye West rolled out five G.O.O.D. Music mini-albums in consecutive weeks. The exercise was at times confusing and underwhelming, but the final release, Teyana Taylor’s K.T.S.E., warrants sustained attention. Pitchfork described it as featuring some of the “best old-Kanye beats heard this year,” which backdrop Taylor’s enormous voice.
Taylor’s also known as a dancer, fashion designer and co-star of the VH1 reality TV show, Teyana and Iman, but K.T.S.E illustrates her tremendous vocal talent, which lends itself to modern soul and old-school R&B originals.
Briggs’ Bad Apples House Party
‘Life Is Incredible’ – the first single from the follow-up to Briggs’ 2014 LP, Sheplife – finds the Yorta Yorta rapper in disarmingly high spirits. The song features a sickly sweet hook from Scottish vocalist, Greg Holden, and lyrics about Tim Tams and Bintangs, shoeys and skid pants. Briggs hasn’t gone soft on us, however – the song exaggerates the privileges of white Australians in order to bring attention to the obstacles First Nations peoples have to navigate.
Briggs’ humorous rendering of this subject indicates his knack for speaking about important matters in a compelling and entertaining manner. As the founder of Bad Apples Music, the Shepparton local is also well positioned to throw a red-hot party. Joining Briggs in the Joan Sutherland Theatre are Bad Apples signees Birdz, Nooky, Kobie Dee and Philly, as well as New Zealand hip hop artist David Dallas, Eurovision hopefuls Electric Fields, Brisbane rapper Jesswar and producer extraordinaire jayteehazard, plus many more.
Jóhann Jóhannsson’s ‘Last and First Men’
You might know Jóhann Jóhannsson’s work from films such as The Theory of Everything, Sicario and Arrival. He’s also renowned for his experimental solo work, which filtered traditional orchestration through electronic hardware. The Icelandic composer passed away in early 2018, not long after the world premiere of Last and First Men at the Manchester International Festival.
The multimedia work – based on Olaf Stapledon’s 1930 sci-fi novel – centres on a Jóhannsson-directed black and white film, which features narration from Tilda Swinton. The Vivid performance will include live musical accompaniment from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and vocals from Nick Cave collaborator Else Torp.
Underworld’s Karl Hyde and Rick Smith have been working together since the late 1970s and conceived their famed progressive house and techno sound in the early 1990s. The UK act’s next four records – dubnobasswithmyheadman (1994), Second Toughest in the Infants (1996), Beaucoup Fish (1999) and A Hundred Days Off (2002) – enjoyed critical and commercial success around the globe. More recently, Smith contributed the original score to Trainspotting 2 and the pair linked up with Iggy Pop on the Teatime Dub Encounters EP.
Their popularity is particularly pronounced in Australia, with the 1996 single ‘Born Slippy .Nuxx’ reaching no. 65 in triple j’s Hottest 100 of All Time. You can expect to hear it alongside other favourites such as ‘Rez / Cowgirl’, ‘Jumbo’ and ’Two Months Off’ during Underworld’s four-night stand at the Opera House.