Review: King Stingray @ Hindley St Music Hall (Adelaide)

King Stingray played Hindley St Music Hall in Adelaide on 30 June, 2023 - image © Mike Lockheart
Mike's life calling is live music photography. He's been lucky to work with bands shooting behind the scenes videos, concert photography and continues to shoot as often as he can with scenestr. More work and musings can be seen on @first3only.

King Stingray's national 'That's Where I Wanna Be' tour arrived in Adelaide (30 June) with Hindley St Music Hall hosting their signature brand of eclectic Yolŋu surf rock – the band's niche but accurate genre, at which they sit proudly at the contemporary forefront.

Recently dropping the new single 'Lookin' Out', the exuberant six-piece rode high on a wave of adoration and joy to deliver 90 minutes of sincere and powerfully optimistic rock & roll to a packed house.

Originally billed as openers, Old Merv were unable to appear in Adelaide due to flight cancellations. However, they were replaced by local singer-songwriter Aleksiah, who revealed she originally held a ticket to attend tonight's show, and was invited with just three hours notice to perform alongside the Arnhem Land headliners she adores.

With palpable excitement heard in her voice, she revelled at the opportunity to perform on her largest stage to date by filling the hall with her delicate vocals, personable lyrics and eloquent, chord-lead guitar phrasing.

George Alice
George Alice - image © Mike Lockheart

A local rising star, South Australian pop artist George Alice and her band followed Aleksiah with a set of charming, effervescent synthpop, in large part bolstered by the electronically integrated drum sound provided by percussionist Daniel Steinert that accompanied Alice's wonderfully choral voice and personal lyricism.

Her band delivered a highly engaging support performance in large part due to the singer's affability and good humour, with equal measures of star-quality pop production and songwriting thrown in for measure.

Ahead of the Arnhem Land headliners arrival, the audience were teased with a back to back playback of Yothu Yindi's 'Treaty', 'Beds Are Burning' by Midnight Oil and John Farnham's interstellar hit 'You're The Voice' over the PA before finally setting foot on the stage.

As lights strobed to the emphatic choruses of each song, glimpses could be caught of energetic concert-goer's homemade signs and gleeful expressions celebrating the band and the evident impact their music has had on them.

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King Stingray fans - image © Mike Lockheart

Initialised by the deep, reverberating hum of multi-instrumentalist Dimathaya Burarrwanga's didgeridoo, the band launched into the tightly syncopated surfy jaunt 'Time'.

Lead guitarist Roy Kellaway's brightly clean playing was articulated with vaulting poses thrown across the stage, often in the direction of his band mates, who during powerful instrumental sections of songs gathered around drummer Lewis Stiles' glistening drum kit in a percussive unison.

Not only did these exciting and expressive moments aid in emphasising the paradisal vibes their memorable guitar and perpetually funky basslines generated, but spoke to an earnest brotherly connection evident within the band.

Vocalist Yirrŋa Yunupiŋu, arguably the most distinct voice in the band, commanded the audience with emphatic gesticulations and an ability to find and hold eye contact with many in the room.

When paired with the infectious indie rock his band generated, Yirrŋa's sincere crooning dovetailed to produce a performance that encapsulated a powerful celebration of Indigenous Australian culture and music, at once immediate, but highly fun filled too.

With just one full-length album release under their belt, King Stingray's fusion of energetic rhythms, soulful melodies, and heartfelt storytelling made for a compelling live music experience, which allowed heartfelt lyrics and introspective melodies to create a moving atmosphere.

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King Stingray - image © Mike Lockheart

An atmosphere that evidently captivated much of the audience by allowing a unique opportunity to connect with a historic Indigenous legacy on a profound level in some respects, especially during their performance of 'Hey Wanhaka'.

A particular moment of triumph came with the performance of 'Milkumana', a track that epitomises the power and resilience of Indigenous culture and storytelling. The energetic rhythms, skilful guitar melodies and mesmerising sounds united the crowd in a euphoric celebration.

Sung with passion, 'Milkumana' showcased the band's unwavering commitment to honouring their heritage and sharing it with the world.

Beyond the music, the concert served as a profound celebration of Indigenous Australian culture. King Stingray's commitment to preserving their heritage and sharing it through their music was evident in every note, lyric and preamble.

The band treated Adelaide to an immersive experience that not only entertained, but also educated and encouraged fostering a deep appreciation for the richness and diversity of Indigenous traditions, none more so than its music and truly unique instrumentation.

More photos from the show.

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