Australian musicians to look out for at Unleashed Festival 2014.
On August 31, I was given a free ticket to what I thought was merely a music festival in downtown Melbourne, one that celebrates up and coming young Australian artists. Although there was a plethora of talented artists performing, upon arriving at the festival, I quickly learned that the it celebrated much more than simply music. Unleashed Festival 2014 was a chance to recognize and assist young Australians that have been working towards creating social change through different ventures, through a series of awards that were segmented by various rising stars in the Australian music scene.
Music festivals are fantastic fun and I love attending them as much as the next person, but when a festival is able to transcend simply showcasing the hottest live acts of the year and present the audience with a message and a gift much greater than music, it becomes a much different and potentially more fulfilling experience. The annual Unleashed festival is no Coachella–it does not offer multiple days of fun, excitement, and opportunity to see every band you can possibly imagine, as you watch the sun set in the California desert. However, it is able to strike a chord in offering something that not even the likes of the world’s biggest music festivals such as Coachella offer, by introducing the audience to rising stars not only in the music scene, but in the nation’s social movement and change scene.
Though the festival took place over the entire weekend (August 30 and 31), I was unable to attend the first day, which was run by an International group called Expanse (check out their website, it is pretty awesome). The group’s goal for the Saturday of the festival was to gather young people from across Melbourne and through a series of workshops and informational sessions inform, connect, and assist them in order to spark their interests in various social change ventures.
The Sunday of the festival, which I was fortunate enough to attend, recognized numerous Australian youth who have been making a difference in their society. Some of the highlights for what I thought were the most interesting and impressive social ventures and musical groups currently budding in Australia are:
Recipient of the “Made In Vic Award” Ror is a young man who moved through refugee camps to get from the Sudan to Australia when he was just a boy. Now he has been in the studio, recording raps, whose rhymes are being used as a vehicle to present social issues such as racism, drug abuse, war, and misogyny. He has already established himself as a star in his local community and is an artist on the rise with a promising future. He represents a voice for young people and the issues they face, he’s definitely a young man to keep an eye out for in the future. Here is a link to a documentary that was made about his life that recently debuted at the Melbourne International Film Festival, to great acclaim, selling out multiple screenings.
This act was introduced as “being pegged to become one of Australia’s breakout acts of 2014.” Little May is a band that definitely has the potential to reach a big international audience. The band consists of an all female folk trio whose sound was very derivative of haunting new age folk acts such as First Aid Kit, Lucy Rose, Daughter, and Laura Marling. This derivation was not a bad thing, some may look down upon their slight unoriginality in sound, but it definitely has the potential to find a place in the hearts of the hip/indie fans that love the aforementioned artists. They currently do not have a very large catalogue of songs to draw from and their live sound definitely needs some work, but this music video is definitely worth checking out.
Kaitlin and Aaron Tait
Recipients of the “Trailblazer Award” for their work as founders of Spark* International. An international foundation, based in Australia that aims to assist people in impoverished communities around the world that are looking to effectively help and change their struggling community, but do not necessarily have the resources to do so. They look to build up their relationships with the people they help, over the long-term in order to achieve the greatest amount of change for their community. They are definitely doing really great work around the world and I highly recommend checking out their website.
The man I was told I had to see perform if I was going to be attending. Remi is one of Australia’s fastest rising rappers, having already headlined festivals and coming off a sold out tour here in Australia, but also supporting international acts such as Joey Bad$$, De La Soul, and Danny Brown. He has already become one of my favorite new rappers and I foresee a solid career ahead of him internationally if he is able to keep busting out feel good rhymes in his signature tongue-in-cheek style. Without a doubt, he put on the best performance of the festival. He’s fresh, has a solid flow, and is pretty clever. Here is a link to the video for his song “Sangria” which cracked the Australia Hottest 100, slotting in at #85 over this summer.