Beats, Beers and Boogies: Adelaide Long Weekend Music Festivals

Adelaide long weekend music festivals

As we gear up for a much-anticipated Labour Day weekend, we’ve cobbled together a list of Adelaide long weekend music festivals. Nothing says ‘hello temporary freedom’ quite like three days of beers, tunes, boogies, and eats.

Half Strange Festival

Half Strange Festival

Set over three days in the Adelaide CBD and Prospect, the whimsically titled music fest is the brainchild of local creatives Celeste Aldahn and Harriet Fraser-Barbour. Frustrated by female representation in the local music industry, they pooled their collective energies to make something special.

“We’ve witnessed a lack of representation of female artists so we figured that we may as well do something about that ourselves,” Harriet says “we’d both been putting shows on for a long time – years, and a festival was an excuse to make a statement.”

Initially unsure of the reaction, the pair were pleasantly surprised by the turnout of last year’s festival, held over the same Labour Day long weekend. “We thought it was really possible that no one would show up. Sometimes it feels that people just stay indoors in Adelaide – we can be really docile and dormant. So this show that was in the suburbs in Prospect on a Saturday night felt like a risk because people don’t like to leave the CBD.”

Instead of a fizzler, Half Strange was a success. “Last year was so much fun and people seemed really responsive, saying it was the best weekend they’d had in a really long time. Everyone was in a really great mood and good spirits. They love seeing more female musicians on stage, I think.”

The festival is almost entirely self-funded, with a small Quick Response Grant from Adelaide Council and a team of ten volunteers including local photographer Daniel Purvis.

Half Strange

Image: Daniel Purvis

“It’s a 90 percent run female initiative, with more than half the performers on the line-up being female or non-binary,” Harriet says. “We have no criteria for involvement, but it’s really nice to see lots of women stepping forward, being enthusiastic and involved in a scene that has previously been heavily male-dominated.”

Friday night, Ancient World hosts an electronic and experimental lineup, while Saturday sees Prospect’s Holy Rollers Studio showcase a mix of underground, indie-garage and ethereal pop. Sunday, The Metro Hotel features a mix of industrial, punk and new-wave acts. Check out Harriet’s band, Workhorse, below.

Half Strange Festival, Friday 29 September – Sunday 1 October.
Friday 29 September, doors 8pm. Ancient World, Hindley Street, city. Tickets $10
Saturday 30 September, doors 6pm. Holy Rollers Hall, 69 Prospect Road, Prospect. Tickets $15
Sunday 1 October, doors 5pm. The Hotel Metro, 46 Grote Street, city. Tickets $15

Distillery Days 2017

Changing up the demographic sightly, Renmark’s Twenty-Third Street Distillery will be presenting a host of Australian music legends. Kate Cebrano, Daryl Braithwaite, Russell Morris, Mark Gable and The Offshoot are all set to rock the picturesque Riverlands.

Pack a picnic rug as there are no reserved seats for this outdoor event. The gates open from 1pm with headliners Daryl Braithwaite playing at 7.10pm and Kate Cebrano finishing the night on a high at 8.45pm. The distillery only turned one this September, but are going from strength to strength, making their mark on both the spirit scene and the event calendar in the Riverland. Make a weekend of it and treat yourself to some famous Riverland hospitality.

Sunday 1 October, 3pm to 10pm. 23rd Street Distillery, Renmark. Tickets $99

Oh YES Festival

OH YES Festival

There’s a brand new music festival coming to town and it lands this Friday at the Adelaide Showgrounds. Thanks to Fat Controller and Five Four Entertainment, OH YES Festival is bringing together some rather large names in the electronic music scene.

Local Adelaide bands like Heaps Good Friends will be playing alongside English house-music bigwig Duke Dumont. Other acts include Just a Gent, Northeast Party House, Safia and Vallis Alps. Caleb Sweeting from Yewth Magazine will be on the decks playing some sweet tunes and perennial crowd favourite PNAU are returning to Adelaide after an appearance at Groovin The Moo Festival. Expect a mix of younger fans and a handful of older ravers. Remember your PLUR (peace, love, unity, respect), kids.

Friday 29 September, 2pm to 11pm. Adelaide Showgrounds, Wayville. Tickets from $69

Semaphore Music Festival

Semaphore Music Festival

The iconic spring fling of the Adelaide festival scene, Semaphore Music Festival is well worth a trip down to the bay this weekend. Local acts mingle with national artists, though this fest is all about celebrating homegrown South Australian talent. Held on the Semaphore Foreshore, surrounding venues throw open their doors and get stuck in – creating a vibrant and inclusive family-friendly atmosphere.

The sounds of roots, blues, Americana, and indie-folk will be twanging out across the waves. Local acts include The Heggarties and ever-surprising Adelaide Ukulele Appreciation Society.

It’s a favourite festival for local acts, too. “The Semaphore [Music] fest is great! It brings together heaps of local and national talent, with great food and sunny days by the beach – and it’s cheap,” Jimmy Mountain frontman, Tom Henry says. “And there’s beer. What more could any sane human want?”

The alt-country and roots-inspired Jimmy Mountain band will be joined by ‘swampabilly’ four-piece Haystacks Calhoun, Raised By Eagles and The Cherry Pickers, among others on Monday 2 October, at the Foreshore Reserve main stage. Your foot will find itself stomping of its own accord and the swaggering stage presence will be at an all-time high.

Friday 29 September to Monday 2 October, times vary. Semaphore Foreshore. Tickets from $20 – $40

Edit: Root Down Festival is Saturday 28 October 2017.

Get down and boogie this Labour Day Long Weekend with these Adelaide music festivals. Say a little thank you to the eight hour day movement while you’re at it, and give Monday a break from its bad press. Tuesday can have all your anxiety next week. 

Smiley Fritz



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