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September 11, 2019

Inclusive DIY festival Half Strange is back (but smaller) in 2019

Instead of making the fourth iteration of DIY music festival Half Strange bigger, founder Harriet Fraser-Barbour has made the tough decision to condense it to let it continue.

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  • Words: Angela Skujins
  • Pictures: Christopher Arblaster

“You asked me if it was getting bigger and I said it’s actually getting smaller,” says Harriet Fraser-Barbour from inside a mustard booth of the Golden Wattle, which turns out to be one of the venues for the three-day Half Strange festival.

“I’m trying to make it more sustainable for myself, because it is of importance to the community, but it also is a personal pleasure,” she explains.

“I’m making the decision this year to not book bands that I’m not personally interested in, because as far as DIY festivals go, when you’re doing it on your own terms, you can kind of take on and choose what’s manageable.”


Half Strange 4
4-6 october
Multiple CBD locations:
8:30pm on Friday, October 4 ($15 tix)
The Golden Wattle
1pm on Saturday, October 5 ($15 tix)
The Exeter
1pm on Sunday, October 6 (free!)
Arthur-Art House.

The festival has also released a humble Soundcloud playlist, available below, featuring acts from their 2019 lineup.

Half Strange takes place over the October long weekend; Friday night will be at the Golden Wattle, Saturday night will be in the Exeter beer garden, and Sunday will be at the new venue ARTHUR-Art House/Innovation District.

Within these spaces Half Strange will highlight the artists Harriet believes to be at the forefront of Australia’s underground music scene in post-punk, rock and electronica.

This year’s bill is a mixed-bag of larger interstate headliners – like multilingual glitch princess Rainbow Chan (Sydney) and synth-noir duo Premium Fantasy (Melbourne) – and lesser-known Adelaide locals, such as punk outfit Armitage Shanks, experimental techno producer Lauren Abineri and GHOSTS AREN’T RED, who are a band that met and formed at the Girls Rock! Adelaide initiative.


“Half Strange is a smorgasbord of underground, independent music from around Australia, mixed with rock ‘n’ roll and school camp vibes,” explains Harriet.

The local acts booked to play Half Strange “are not very established,” Harriet says, including one fresh-faced electronica duo, Somewhere, who have never played before. (Though she assures us they’ve done well under other monikers.)

“But the whole point of a festival like Half Strange is to encourage and increase greater and more diverse participation in the local music scene,” says Harriet.

“Especially when a festival is entirely independent and DIY, it gives greater freedom in its curatorial MO, if you like, to take what other bigger events or festivals might consider a ‘risk’ on new and unestablished acts.”

Like last year, Harriet has still stuck to the maxim of an all-female and non-binary lineup. This isn’t because she is a strict enforcer of quota-ism, but because she says most of the music she enjoys come from female and non-binary artists.


Running a festival like this – and any festival, really – is not easy. There are financial overheads, band management and publicity commitments.

Harriet ran the first two Half Strange festivals with community creative Celeste Juliete, before Celeste left interstate two years ago, and she now champions the festival on her own.

This means Harriet makes the important decisions herself and is funding the festival completely out-of-pocket. But she says it’s worth it to know Half Strange provides opportunities for local musicians to connect with national creatives.

“Having interstate touring acts is a big incentive for people to come, and it also has the ability to broaden an artist’s pool of influence,” says Harriet.

“It’s also making local musicians proud of what they do have and what they have created on a more interstate, national scale.

“Being exposed to something else that they might not otherwise see could inspire them to make something different here.”

Harriet has also made Half Strange’s fourth iteration free entry for First Nations peoples. Regular patrons will pay $15 on Friday and Saturday respectively, while Sunday’s afternoon show is free.

“This is one small way of acknowledging that the events are held on stolen lands,” Harriet explains.

“[And] I would love to have more [First Nations] representation.”

Tickets for Half Strange can be bought on the door.

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