Weather can't dampen parties
Tasmania's annual party season witnessed some weird weather to complement its on-stage oddities.
There was torrential rain, lightning strikes and hailstorms – right in the middle of summer.
While thousands were heading for a mini-Mofo festival and a Beerfest in Launceston, southern parts of the State and the highlands were being lashed with wild weather that saw roads blanketed with snow and ice and the sky shimmering with lightning.
On the east coast, beaches turned white under a blanket of hailstones.
The Bureau Of Meteorology described the mid-summer outburst as "very unusual" but a bit of weather couldn't stop the partying.
When Mofo's first northern event was over, a sandwich board outside a CBD charity shop read: “Dear David, Thanks for sharing Mona Foma. Kind regards, Launceston.”
It was referring, of course, to MONA owner David Walsh.
Brigid Delaney wrote for The Guardian website: "As evidenced by Sunday afternoon’s Block Party, there’s an enthusiastic audience of local people who are quick to get into both the spirit of the event and into fluorescent onesies."
The 2018 mini-festival was held in Launceston before the main event in Hobart and served as a warm-up for a complete – and possibly permanent – move north in 2019.
The first-night signs were positive when queues for a Gotye concert snaked around a CBD corner and out of cover into spitting rain.
Gotye performed with New York's Ondioline Orchestra.
Rob Schwimmer played the theremin – an early electronic instrument like a stringless harp. When Schwimmer held his fingers above the theremin, a beautiful sound emerged, as if from the ether.
Delaney wrote: "The concert is charming and magical, and the music nostalgic, space age and, at times, silly – it makes me think of the Jetsons.
"But Gotye pulls back before the sound effects get too over the top and uses the ondioline to great effect in ballads such as Dandelion Wine."
Contemporary dance, mixed media and live music at a range of venues led up to the free Sunday Block Party featuring a 1,000-onesie giveaway and a Violent Femmes performance (in onesies).
The Mayor of Launceston, Albert van Zetten, said: “Launceston has truly embraced Mona Foma with open arms and that's something we all should be very proud of.”
MONA spokesman Mark Wilsdon said the Mofo team was confident the State Government would offer a multiple-year funding commitment to help spread the MONA Effect across the State.
In summing up, Delaney thought Mofo would do well by making a permanent home in Launceston.
In the midst of mini-Mofo, a Saturday Beerfest attracted about 7,000 people to Royal Park.
Organiser James Harding said early rain had been “challenging”, but overall feedback from patrons at the one-day event had been positive and Tasmania Police had praised attendees' behaviour.
“The stallholders all reported great turnover and it was just great to see so many families, people of all ages young and old having a dance, some up at the main stage,” he said.
When the Mofo team headed south again for the three days of its last planned festival in Hobart, thousands of art and music lovers from Tasmania and many other places converged on Berriedale.
In near-perfect summer weather they were able to soak up multicultural music from Iraqi violinist and oude players, Rahim AlHaj and Karim Wasfi, Tunisian singer Emel Mathlouthi, Argentinian folk hip-hop trio Femina and many others.
A pianist performed inside a “green jungle” and a fashion parade of sorts was held on the tennis court.
Violent Femmes' Gordon Gano performed a solo set that a critic described as "moving".
Enigmatic duo, Jeffrey Blake and Duck Pond, operated a MONA Complaints Department that drew many curious patrons.
But the duo responded to approaches in accordance with a sign that said: “We aren’t listening”.
Jlin, Mayhem, The Hobart Liberation Orchestra and local bands, including Drunk Elk, Philomath and The Soda Creamers (who played under a "Hobart + Music = Yeah!" banner), added to the entertainment.
The tour de force was a world premiere of a collaboration between acoustic punk rockers Violent Femmes and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra in a sold-out Federation Concert Hall.
Curator Ritchie deemed it all to be thrilling.
South of the capital, the 36th annual Cygnet Folk Festival had been a sell-out.
Performers from the United States, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Sicily, England, Ireland, Serbia, Japan and New Zealand, as well as Australia, entertained 5,000 patrons,
Artistic Director Erin Collins, said: "Cygnet was really humming.”
The School of Business and Economics at UTAS had a research team working to quantify the social, economic and environmental impact of the festival on the region.
The party season had kicked off in late December with a rejuvenated Taste Festival.
Online commentator Winsor Dobbin wrote: "For several years now, Hobart's once ground-breaking Taste of Tasmania ... has been limping along on the waterfront as the Sydney-Hobart fleet glides into town ...
"A gamble by Hobart City Council in bringing in new festival director Brooke Webb has paid off big time – with a better ambience, more interesting choices and far more room to move.
Dobbin said the main hall was lighter and brighter with more fresh air and far less crush.
"More chairs and seats have been added, the lawns have been opened up to live entertainment (Launceston singer-songwriter Eve Gowen was most impressive) and the popular smaller-sized tasting plates were back."
The Big Bessie Amy Winehouse sundae of vanilla soft-serve with chocolate sauce, bourbon caramel, brownie, peanuts and sherbet was named best overall dish.
Vineyard Seafood Restaurant, new to the Taste this year, also won an award for its tasting plate of grilled scallops in the half shell with hazelnut and coriander butter.
Tasmanian Eel Exporters of Bagdad, a first-time stallholder, sold more than a tonne of eel.
Company spokesperson Brad Finlayson said: “We offered our short-finned eel barbecued, smoked, pickled and as a pâté. People who tried it for the first time loved it.
The family business exports eels to China, Japan and the Republic of Korea.
Taste Festival Director, Brooke Webb, told The Mercury: “We are not going to please everyone but those who have come have loved it."
New Year's Eve saw lots of respectable action around the State, as well as a sprinkling of nuisance acts.
Website Grazia sent a journalist to the Falls Festival at Marions Bay and reported that Tasmania was winning the Falls War against its more publicised sister festivals at Lorne and Byron Bay.
"It's one you most definitely need to experience," according to Grazia.
Established favourites, ARIA Award-winning group, All Our Exes Live In Texas, and scientist/magician Kevin Quantum will be back.
Indigenous dance troupe Djuki Mala and Scottish folk band Breabach will also be featured, while last year’s sold-out circus/cabaret extravaganza, LIMBO, will present a new show LIMBO: Unhinged.
The Spiegeltent season kicks off at PW1 on 8 March and runs until 1 April.
Dark and Dangerous Thoughts (DDT), a curated showcase of literature, film and ideas, will be a new Dark Mofo experience in 2018.
Dark Mofo Director, Leigh Carmichael, said: “We are delighted to announce the appointment of DDT Program Director Laura Kroetsch.
“We’ll be asking her to draw on her wealth of experience as we program some of the more challenging and dangerous ideas being discussed in the 21st century.
"We’ll be looking at a broad range of issues, but it’s unlikely we’ll stray too far from the core themes of [sexual activity] and killing.”
Dark Mofo will run from 15-24 June, before FoV from 28 June until 18 July.
FoV will feature a workshop by Englishman David Lawrence on Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem and another by American Deke Sharon on Contemporary A Cappela.
Image courtesy of the ABC
8 February 2018, Edition 191