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January 11, 2024

Wildlands’ local stage a highlight of new year’s first festival weekend

The second iteration of Wildlands was a banger, in no small part due to the atmosphere of the local stage.

  • Words & Pictures: Helen Karakulak

Last Sunday, Wildlands hit Ellis Park in the first festival weekend of 2024. While punters at the Adelaide Showgrounds were rained on the day prior making Heaps Good heaps damp, clear skies graced the Sunday Wildlands festival.


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Wildland’s Portal stage set the sound soon after punters entered the grounds, with a lineup of mostly local DJs, the exception being Melbourne’s Mulalo who started the day.

When you include the Portal stage in the total lineup, 40 per cent of artists booked were South Australian.

This figure is above last year’s average, as CityMag found that only 25 per cent of all acts booked across major SA festivals in 2023 were local acts.

For Alley O, who filled the Portal stage with soulful grooves in the mid-arvo, having a local stage at festivals like Wildlands helps bolster the scene.

“It gives an opportunity for local artists to put themselves in front of new audiences and it also, hopefully, exposes local punters and festivalgoers to local artists,” she says.

The Wildlands Portal stage was well-presented, with the moderately sized stage overlooking part of the parkland that allowed people to gather and dance without looking intimidatingly empty in the quieter parts of the day.

“It’s really awesome when the local stages actually have a good sound system and have good lighting and have lots of care and attention on the aesthetics and the vibe and the acoustics,” Alley says.

“Sometimes people just get put on a little bar or a little teeny, tiny side stage and that’s obviously not as great, but I think any kind of exposure and any kind of opportunity to play for a local artist is always very welcome.”

Alley O performing on the Portal stage at Wildlands

This is Wildland’s second year in Adelaide, after starting in Brisbane in 2019 and expanding to Adelaide and Perth in 2022. It was important to them to embrace the local scene.

“Not only is it important to us as a festival to bring to South Australians globally recognised internationals and big headliners – we also want to provide a platform for local artists, ensuring they not only feel integral to the event but also have the chance to enhance their own profiles,” Wildlands organisers told CityMag.

While the Portal stage satisfied CityMag’s desire to see more local opportunities – after all, who knows an Adelaide crowd better than an Adelaide DJ – none of the heavy hitters on the Sahara main stage were South Australian.

For Alley, it’s important to have local stages to allow festivalgoers to hear music they’ve never heard before.

“Just because they came to hear a song they heard on TikTok or on the radio, they might suddenly hear something local, and then they can go and support those local artists and see them more regularly.”

Meanwhile, the lineup on the Sahara stage ranged from established international names, like Central Cee and A$AP Mob’s Ferg to the recently emerged Berlin-based DJ Peggy Gou.

Thanks in no small part to TikTok, even non-fans could belt along with the die-hards in the case of Ferg’s ‘Plain Jane’ and Peggy Gou’s ‘(It Goes Like) Nanana’.

The latter was a highlight of Peggy’s set, with the 90s-inspired disco track spreading dance contagion beyond the crowd and hitting the likes of those in the queues to the bar.

Food truck favourites including Gang Gang pizzas, and Sooki La La’s katsu sando kept punters well fed, with free chocolate soft serves from Maccas as an extra treat, and roaming performers including acrobats added to the fun.

Earlier in the day, G Flip’s energetic performance was a standout, with ‘Rough’, ‘Worst Person Alive’ and ‘Be Your Man’ from their latest album, ‘Drummer’ showing off their depth of artistry with thunderous drums and impressive vocals.

UK rapper Central Cee won over the crowd with his charismatic stage presence, with popular tracks ‘Doja’ and ‘Sprinter’ encouraging lots of lyrics being screamed from atop the shoulders of mates, dates or the bloke you just met that swears he can lift you.

The high energy remained into the night, with Grammy-winning Rufus Du Sol closing the show as the band celebrates 10 years since their debut album ‘Atlas’.

As G Flip put it in their set, you can always count on an Adelaide crowd to get rowdy, and our festival state did not disappoint.

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