Spin Off well and truly spun off with a huge attendance and hometown heavy weights Hilltop Hoods headlining with an enormous set featuring some of their biggest hits complete with brass section and pyrotechnics. Also top of the bill was veteran producers PNAU bringing Big Day Out boiler room nostalgia with a massive hour-long rave party showcasing their best-known ear worms from a catalogue spanning over twenty years.
Despite the enormous Australian household names bringing the masses out, the festival featured a strong female presence with the likes of Noah Cyrus, Thelma Plum, Benne, Tove Lo, Peach PRC and Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers dominating the stage with their powerful anthems, while American singer-songwriter Kira Devine showed up PNAU onstage as resident vocalist and collaborator, and Adelaide based up-and-comer Nyassa owned the Hilltops set with her powerful vocals.
Being cleverly scheduled for the last day of School Holidays, the majority of attendees were teenagers exhibiting some outrageous fashion choices while families with young kids also braved the cold and chaos to enjoy a day of local and international music over two stages that were thankfully indoors in the pavilions where I dare say a lot of those same unruly teenagers will be seated in a few months’ time for exams. While the entire festival was condensed into one smaller section of the showgrounds, the set up was a success with plenty of food trucks and services such as phone charging, market stalls and a chill out zone to keep everyone fed, charged up and happy. You could even get on the Cyclone ride to catch your favourite act on the main stage if you were feeling like something adventurous. A lot of the local indie acts were held on the aptly named ‘Off Grid’ stage which remained fairly quiet throughout the day, perhaps because of the more relaxed vibe of the music on offer there, or the fact people were being bamboozled by the DJ in the Atrium on the way by top 40 hits that seemed to gather its own rowdy gathering throughout the day.
With young Aussie indie outfits Busseys and Sly Withers kicking off the day for the early risers and keen punters, followed by the traditional Welcome to Country ceremony, Iann Dior aka ‘Sad Boy Dior’ took to the main stage with his special brand of ‘Emo Rap’ inciting hysteria and loud singing from the crowd. He delivered tunes such as Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hit Mood and Sick and Tired, a track famously released with collaborators Machine Gun Kelly and Travis Barker. Admittedly, I had no idea who this artist was despite recognising his songs, but the audience went crazy for him, especially when he lost his shirt.
The Tullamarines then delivered their tight sounding set of riff heavy indie rock across the rave continuum aka Atrium on the Off-Grid stage which also happily neighboured a hot donut stall meeting all my dopamine inhibiting needs before crossing over again to the main stage for Noah Cyrus. Miley’s less famous and criminally underrated emo sister Noah performed a set that was nothing short of spectacular sounding 10/10 and backed by an exceptional band playing hit single and crushingly emotive track Again which blew the audience away before she took us back to her Cyrus roots with country pop track I got so High that I saw Jesus.
Another skip over to the Off-Grid stage followed, to catch local Adelaide Queer post punk outfit The Empty Threats dressed like glam rockers from 1970s UK put on a passionate and energetic performance of their fusion of psych and indie rock with heavy distorted guitars, and the smooth blusey vocals of Stu Patterson who also rocks out on clarinet. Finally, it was my turn to get my fan girl on for Thelma Plum as I wrangled my way to the front of the main stage to see one of Australia’s most powerful female First Nation’s voices live for the first time. Coming out in an impressive denim outfit complete with sparkly First Nation flag and the word ‘Staunch’ in flag colours across the front of her jeans, Thelma Plum sang her most loved hits such as Angry Anymore, Homecoming Queen and Clumsy Love delivered effortlessly with plenty of sass. Finishing with banger Better in Blak the audience amped up singing along yelling “Fuck that!” in the backing parts ending the set on a happier note.
Next up was my chance to finally catch Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers, who pulled in a surprisingly smaller crowd than I expected considering what a big deal they are becoming off the back of multiple festival spots and national tours along with a forthcoming debut album due to drop in September and a support slot for the upcoming Foo Fighters concert in Melbourne. Spearheading the new wave of (thankfully far more inclusive) riot grrrl acts emerging like wildfire in Australia and Internationally, these guys are an insanely good outfit that are rapidly earning their stripes with their witty lyrics, fun catchy punk rock and mighty vocals. Kicking off with Miss Your Birthday and finishing strong with banger Girl Sports with some cute banter in between, a ripper cover of Wet Leg’s Wet Dream and a sneak peak of their brand-new single, I was flawed by the powerful heavy vocals from lead singer Anna Ryan and prominent bass lines from Jaida Stephenson who admittedly is about the same size as her instrument.
Benee commanded a huge crowd on the Main Stage with her quirky indie pop and captivating animation on the screen behind her while she rolled around on stage in a soccer uniform and belted out crowd favourite Supaloney before Sydeny locals The Rions kept the mood relaxed at the Off-Grid stage with their coastal groove rock, playing with the kind of precision only a band that has been slugging it since high school could master.
Peach PRC brought the masses to the main stage for a great big sing along and just as predicted, she has now upgraded her set to include cute Kawaii princess back up dancers in pink satin mini dresses while she got about in her usual pink leotard complete with iridescent fairy wings. As expected, every banger was delivered to a hyped audience that knew all the words to her catchy bubble gum pop anthems including iconic track Josh and personal favourite Forever Drunk which is possibly the most depressing dance song ever written.
The Vanns closed the Off Grid stage for the night with their set, and one last vibe switch for punters going between pavilions to experience the distinct contrast in atmosphere, their delivery of popular track Feels Good Now sounding flawless. Heading back to the main stage to find my spot for the rest of the night, Tove Lo was blowing the place up with her enormous and distinctive voice, prowling the stage in a Cher-esque body suit and amping up the crowd with hits Say it (famously produced and released by Flume), Habits and a stripped back version of Robyn’s Dancing On My Own before finishing with No One Dies From Love.
By the time PNAU started their enormous climactic show, Jubilee Pavilion was packed. As expected, the entire festival became a rave with an impressive light show, thumping bass and the artists in light up costumes. Playing a lot of the classics such as Embrace and Baby it was a bit of a ride for the small few of us that could actually legally enter a club in the early 2000s, but the reception proved that PNAU’s unique and joyful take on dance music is timeless. Accompanied by co-collaborator and vocalist Kira Divine whose stage chemistry is bewitching, the energy emitting from the stage was intoxicating while Nick Littlemore’s delivery of the Elton John vocal parts for their recent popular track Cold Heart was remarkably on point. The group finished with Chameleon, possibly one of the happiest songs played all day and the entire crowd got right into it for one final boogie.
Finally Hilltop Hoods entered the stage to an enormous roar from the crowd after a grandiose instrumental opening and bellowing smoke, opening with Leave Me Lonely while the forty something year old boys from Blackwood High ran laps of the stage delivering immaculate vocals. I’ll be honest I was flawed by how fit these guys still are and some twenty four years since breaking into my soundscape with trailblazing ripper debut album Matter of Time, their distinctive and unique vocals have not wavered despite all the partying from their glory days. Complete with indoor pyrotechnics, smoke machines, a brass section and dominating vocals from Adelaide girl Nyassa, the show was nothing short of epic, captivating the young audience and securing a new generation of fans. With a whole hour set sadly still not long enough to cover all the hits from their enormous career, they stuck mainly to the most popular tracks such as Exit Sign, Rattling the Keys to the Kingdom and Laced Up while the crowd managed an impressive, synchronised waving of hands to ‘Higher’ Finishing the night with best known track Cosby Sweater the boys wrapped up an enormous day of high energy entertainment.
With every festival that pops up on the calendar in this post plague period where everyone is touring all at once, it’s always a question of the quality and diversity of the line-up and for me personally, if I am going to be able to pull off physically cramming so many acts into a very long day. The younger crowds mixed with the offer of iconic musical acts is a refreshing combination however and Spin Off definitely delivered on a jam packed exciting day for a vast range of music lovers. I may have been a little worse for wear the following day after twelve hours of watching bands play, but if Pressure and Suffa can run around like that onstage while rapping, I probably can’t play the too old card yet either.
Spin Off Review By Bec Scheucher