Alison Wonderland, Manu Crooks, HI LIFE @ Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide 23/11/2018

HI LIFE kicked us off on a wintry Friday night in Adelaide, it was a slow start in the crowd but the two Sydney boys and ex-Adelaide girl work super hard trying to get the crowd involved. They had some cool pop jams with some great live vocals but Adelaide was still waking up it seemed and the vibe feeling more like a warm up DJ it didn’t seem to concern them too much as they mashed many a track together in an effort to get the vibe lifting.

Up and coming rapper from Sydney Manu Crooks was next on the bill The Ghanaian born artist now based in Sydney has been steadily building a good following in the last couple of years, now twenty five he’s been producing since he was a teenager. First to enter was DJ Ziggy insisting the crowd picked up its energies before he’d bring Manu on stage and give us a taste of what we’ve been waiting for, finally the crowd started to take notice and Manu crooks entered the stage, picked up the mic and the crowd really started to be drawn to engage. Manu has a style and flow that is sweet and chilled on tracks like latest single Fuego, with great diversity sitting next to the more glitchy Day Ones and Under Pressure. With Alison’s stage setup acting as a backdrop Manu bounced around stage in front of the video screens creating a narrowed focus and single-handedly dragged the crowd into tonight’s gig. Manu really showed how far Aussie hip hop and rap has come over the last few years as it’s it’s easily sitting proud in the genre that has spread throughout the globe.

As the main lights dimmed in Thebarton Theatre an instant surge of punters flowed in, and when Alison Wonderland (Sydney girl Alexandra Scholler) kicks off, a subtle light fills the stage. Instantly the mood elevates to a night long high, appearing  aside an impressive wall of screens building a visual alter, she gently draws a bow over an electronic cello, a smooth deep note taking the crowds attention, as the lights build and the beat starts to grow, the alter falls, she leaps up behind the desk creating an instant as Australia’s EDM Queen leads with a short intro of the twisted synth’s in Awake’s Good enough mashed straight into I Want You from 2014 release Run. It was a great representation of what was in-store as  she proved she is one of the best live DJ/ producers going around. There’s no way to count the different samples she can meld together to produce pure gold rave anthems that jerk and move and then flow into dreamy sets of deep bass. Laser lights fitting of a warehouse party lifting a deep blue hue over the crowd as Benni Benassi Cinema slowly builds Alison Lunched us through some incredible freestyle mixing Taking abrasive industrial hardcore beats and crashing them into crisp synths to keep the party dancing from go to whoa.

A highlight I found was when Alison Wonderland picked up the mic and live sung tracks off of this year’s awesome release Awake. It seemed to give songs like Easy, Church and title track Awake an inherent soul that sometimes a produced vocal lacks. She moved around stage from crowd level to synth desks keeping the show flowing with style. Considering her relatively short career so far, the sheer weight of highly recognisable original tracks like U Don’t Know (feat Wayne Coyne), Take It To Reality, Naked and Happy Place, mixed with probably thirty plus extra samples from Hermitude to Rage Against The Machine to Rihanna! Alison Wonderland set an epically high standard for live electronic artists, single-handedly taking you through a journey of her deepest thoughts and fears. A great show that received loving cheers from the sweaty crowd!

Live Review by Peter Young

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