WOMADelaide Festival Overcomes Heat and Controversy with Energetic Performances

Published March 12, 2024

Before the WOMADelaide festival kicked off, attendees were worried about several things. The forecast promised a scorching heatwave, and there were thoughts about the previous year's overcrowding. Added to that was the controversy of the Palestinian band 47SOUL being disinvited just as the event was about to begin.

However, once the festivities started, these worries seemed to fade. Despite the soaring temperatures, which prompted the closure of one stage during the day, the revamped festival layout and cooling mists helped people stay comfortable. Attendance numbers had pushed the facilities to their limit last year, but this year, more space and shade were available.

When the sun was up, most people preferred staying cool in the shade, enjoying the music from a distance. Even so, performers like Sharon Shannon had a few brave souls dancing in the heat. The festival blended music, art, and the unusual heat to create an extraordinary atmosphere, with pole dancers and philosophic musical performances adding to the experience.

In the evenings, the energy shifted. Dubioza Kolektiv, a band with a Balkan punk sound, energetically got the audience up and dancing, regardless of the heat. Seasoned artists such as Seun Kuti, Baaba Maal, and Angelique Kidjo performed with vibrant bands, their music calling for peace and respect while reminding listeners of the work yet to be done for our planet.

The festival also featured a blend of protest music alongside traditional folklore tunes. Illapu from Chile brought the sound of Andean tradition combined with their history of political struggle. Meanwhile, Ukraine's DakhaBrakha delivered a powerful performance of resistance, in stark contrast to the decision not to feature 47SOUL due to 'safety concerns.'

The event closed with performances that combined artistry and narrative, such as the South Korean company Elephants Laugh, who used water tanks to depict themes of isolation and connection, resonating with the festival’s message of shared human experiences.

culture, live, festival