Originally published in Radio Adelaide’s quarterly magazine Radiant
January can be a slow time for gig goers in Adelaide but the Festival Centre is looking to empty the backyards and beaches with a series of concerts under the Sessions banner.
Acts including The Correspondents and Babylon Circus have been WOMADelaide favourites in recent years but Sessions Programmer Sarah Bleby also wants to show what SA bands have to offer.
“This is Sessions’ third year running and one of the key things that we wanted to do was build on the idea of making our venues more accessible to local artists.”
“We’ve been programming local artists in the series but we wanted to extend that and actually get local programmers who are promoting and presenting bands in Adelaide to come and do it here.”
Radio Adelaide also plays a part in Sessions with an outside broadcast in the Space foyer on January 24. Sarah is excited about bringing the station on board.
“That is a first for Sessions, we haven’t had any really strong radio connection before and we’re also hoping that we’ll get some of the shows recorded and then broadcast following the season so that we get to hear some of this great music in its live context year round.”
In the hunt for local musicians Sarah sought the advice of Luke Penman of music podcast play / pause / play and Radio Adelaide’s Local Noise, who brought electronic label Pilot Records into the fold once Luke realised many of the bands he was looking at booking were managed by Pilot.
Ben Smith is the co-founder of Pilot Records and was happy to merge the pre-existing PilotFest with the Sessions series for an evening that showcased the best in Adelaide’s experimental electronic music.
“We hadn’t completely firmed up a venue for PilotFest and one thing led to another and we got excited and thought why don’t we put PilotFest on there and do it properly.”
The festival features many of Adelaide’s electronic up-and-comers but Ben and his fellow curators did not aim for a national act to close the event.
“We didn’t book a headliner because that’s not the intention, the whole idea is to come to a space where you normally wouldn’t see gigs and have it not be something you expected. “
“We’re starting with acts that are here and trying to put them in an environment that is conducive to them performing at their best.”
Sarah is happy to hand over curating duties to Pilot Records and play / pause / play and is looking to bring other styles of music to the Festival Centre.
“I’m really excited because they’ve got a great line-up of local bands that they’ve pulled together, it hasn’t been me trying to tell them what to program.”
“It’s something that I hope we can continue and build on, getting South Australian programmers to put their stuff on in our venues.”
Justin McArthur will be performing at PilotFest with his band Question Question and he’s amazed at what Pilot has achieved since forming last year.
“They’ve created a small Pilot community of these bands and they’re all very intertwined, especially with the sound and the ideas behind the bands and the community spirit that we have. That extends to the punters as well, there is that real sense of community.”
The band is thrilled about the opportunity to play in a unique Adelaide setting and is heading away from the stage in preparation.
“The next month or two we’re going to try and not gig too much and hone some of our material a bit more and make sure it’s really spot on.”
Both Pilot Records and the Festival Centre see the amphitheatre facing the River Torrens as an underutilised space and Ben is keen to revitalise the area after success there early this year.
“We did a gig there and we had a solo act called Mobius Trip and watching him play drums over loops with guitars and the wind blowing and his hair blowing and then the setting of the Torrens behind him with people sitting down drinking beer and eating food on a Friday afternoon after work. There was something absolutely magical about it and the space is so effortless.”