Published on theMusic.com.au, Nov 2016
A 50-tonne fire-breathing spider has appeared on the foreshore of Perth for Arcadia Australia, and while images of the machine’s past endeavours are enough to make your jaw drop, they really only scratch the surface of what the festival has to offer.
The three-day Australian exclusive kicks on Friday at Elizabeth Quay after community days this week. Here’s everything you need to know.
The beast itself it made of recycled military machinery and industrial components; its eyes coming from spy planes while its legs are partially constructed from helicopter tails. It’s 15 metres tall with flames that reach a similar height; amid the heat will be DJs in the body and acrobats flailing around the legs.
During a mid-week rehearsal, The Landing Show sees the spider from another planet awake in a flurry of lights and analyse its surroundings before unleashing dancers that mimic the actions of spiders – two of them being spun into a web cocoon while suspended well off the ground; perhaps not the best job for someone with arachnophobia. The suspense surrounding the spider’s gradual awakening will no doubt be next level when artists like Leftfield and Alison Wonderland are at the helm.
In the vicinity of the game-changing, suspended DJ booth (artists will actually be inside the spider), are posts spitting more flames into the air, and while the spider isn’t ready to unleash hell during the rehearsals, the bursts of warmth from those alone are enough to get the adrenalin pumping. Here’s a shot from past shows to illustrate how insane things will be when the festival kicks off on Friday. Pic via Arcadia Australia:
As well as The Landing Show, each night will feature The Lords Of Lightning and traditionally performance Yallorr Keeninyarra. As the sun sets over the river, the dance of the Dance of the Wadjuk Nyungar/People begins; a powerful performance connecting the Arcadia spider and the sacred Wadjuk spider of Garrgatup (meaning Kings Park, which is in view across the river as its unfolding). It’s an important and engaging piece that hasn’t been performed to the public in its traditional form since 1901 and sees the claws of the spider waving an Aboriginal flag.
Perched just behind the spider are two raised platforms that frame the scene for The Lords Of Lightning, a stand-out performance piece that’s almost worth the ticket price alone. You can feel the static and change in the air as the two dances wield four million volts of electricity… through their bodies. It’s amazing, and terrifying as they cycle channel modern dance, martial arts and freestyle performance.
With all this going on, it’s easy to forget this is actually a music festival. Across Friday, Saturday and Sunday the likes of Leftfield (DJ Set), Alison Wonderland, Shy Fx, Carmada, Elk Road and more will climb into the belly of the beast. Check out the full line-up here.
Everything else mentioned here makes for an amazing festival, but when you add in the aforementioned Perth river/Elizabeth Quay and the city skyline as backdrops, you’ve got one of the most visceral experiences to visit the state.