Brunswick Street Mall & Chinatown Mall, Fortitude Valley
Weekend-long program, annually
I braved the rainy weather and cold wind on Saturday and had a pretty rad time indeed at the Valley Fiesta. From dashing between tents at the markets to avoid being rained on, to being up against the barrier for the headline acts, it was the most enjoyable solo Saturday I’ve had for a long time.
The Vintage & Designer Markets were my first stop, out the back of Ric’s Bar – an eclectic mix of old and new, from secondhand and “re-designed” clothing to screen-printed Tshirts, leather earrings and crystals. Despite the rain, all of the stallholders were cheerful, friendly and not at all pushy. The venue was lovely too – most of the stalls ended up undercover and the coffee and food that was coming out looked great.
Across the road at Cloudland, people were queuing up out the door for the Valley Swap Shoppe, a massive clothing exchange that was part of the Fiesta. I didn’t have anything to swap, so I carried on down the mall to check out the Red Bull Crate Diggers. It seemed quite popular in spite of the weather. I bought a decent coffee from Bread & Meat Co and wandered through the TCB building that connects the Brunswick and Chinatown Malls. Ella Mobbs aka Creep Heart was set up in the laneway with her gorgeous designs, alongside West End barber Cut-Throats and Powder Puffs and the pin-up perfect girls from Trash Monkey. Happy High Herbs also had a stall and I got a free henna tattoo and a great chat from the lady running it.
Outside, the China Chowdown was taking place – the Chinese banquet looked and smelled delicious, and the Khuan Lee Lion Dancers were superb. After their performance, cover band Rockaoke took the stage and played several sets throughout the day, covering everything from Avicii to Smash Mouth and OneRepublic. That was something that I loved about the Fiesta – everywhere you went, there was music pumping all day long.
From 3pm onwards I spent most of my time at the Main Stage in the Brunswick Mall, and as the afternoon wore on it was getting to be almost sunny. The first act were Inigo, who hit the stage with a fun, upbeat, Kimbra-esque sound. Lead singer and band founder Erin Fitzsimon was charismatic and kinetic, dancing and moving the entire time. The trumbone, trumpet and saxophone added to their unique sound.
The Royales were next to the stage, with indie-rock fusion that is a little bit Killers, a little bit Panic! at the Disco. A lot heavier than poppy Inigo, their bass line could be physically felt from the street. I really liked their sound, and have been listening to their songs in Triple J Unearthed since. Next up was Jordan Rakei, who was more mellow. Reminiscent of Jack Johnson, he had an amazing voice but the overall sound, although interesting, just wasn’t my thing.
I didn’t get a chance to see the Creases with my own eyes as I was sheltering inside the (very nice) Press Club, but I could hear them and feel their bass pumping through the place. Seemed like the crowd was having a great time.
Adelaide rapper Allday marked the beginning of the big acts of the night. The street was thronged with people and there were several people sitting on other’s shoulders with their hands in the air. Allday’s show was the one that induced the most enthusiasm from the crowd and he did perform an excellent show, combining original tracks with classics like Outkast’s ‘Ms Jackson’. Dan Sultan was up next, with what he refers to as ‘country soul rock ‘n’ roll’. A whole lot of skill, energy and stage presence set their performance apart but didn’t receive the same sort of fervour that Allday did.
The Preatures started playing at around 9pm, but the street had been slowly filling up for about half an hour prior to that. I had stayed in the same place after Dan Sultan so I was fortunate to be front and centre for a seriously amazing show. Frontwoman Isabella Manfredi had incredible presence and energy, and gave a spectacular performance despite having lost her voice almost entirely. Massive kudos. The crowd was at its wildest here, and its roughest – I came away with bruised elbows and cramped fingers from hanging on to my spot. At one point an older man crowd-surfed all the way to the front, only to be pulled over the barrier and escorted away by security, cheerfully waving at the crowd as they cheered him on. The Preatures definitely finished the whole night on a high.
Can’t wait for next year!