SAFIA – Festival Hall 15.10.16

The last time Safia played Melbourne’s Festival Hall was two years ago when they opened for NZ angel, Lorde. After finally releasing their highly anticipated debut record “Internal”, the Canberra three piece set off around Australia, stopping in Melbourne on Saturday night to play their very own sold out headline show at Festival Hall.

Starting off the night was Running Touch. The Melbourne producer stepped onto the stage with a mysterious black mask painted over his eyes and began enchanting us with “Courtesy Of”, an intricate, R&B infused electronic track with a moody piano opening. Between playing the various instruments he had on stage, singing and dancing, Running Touch instantly captivated the crowd. In contrast to his slick, indie electronica, Running Touch ended his set with an instrumentally heavy rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal”.

With synchronised fist bumps, head bops and claps, Sydney duo Set Mo warmed the crowd right up with some vibrant deep house tunes. Set Mo brought the grooves with their set, bumping an array of original tracks like “White Dress” as well as RUFUS’ “You Were Right” and a remix of Disclosure’s “Omen”. The duo closed their set with their latest single “See Right Through Me,” a lush summery track that left everyone in good vibes.

The crowd buzzed with eager anticipation as blinking white lights and growing green and red lines illuminated the stage. Opening with their latest single “My Love Is Gone”, Safia brought the entire venue into a frenzy as blue and green confetti rained down on the crowd while punters scream-sung the chorus to the spacey dance-track, “You said my love is gone / Our love’s been going wrong forever now”. You know the gig is going to be good when they shoot confetti into the crowd during the opening song.

The entire show was a spectacle from start to finish. From the peculiar tiki-like figure waltzing around the screens as they performed their gloriously eerie track “Counting Sheep”, to the telephone that frontman Ben Woolner sang into for their tiny cover of Gorillaz’s “Feel Good Inc.” during their performance of “Bye Bye” – the band no doubt know how to put on a brilliant show. Woolner’s speech about one of their very first tracks was made all the more special as punters belted every word to “Listen to Soul, Listen to Blues”. Guitarist Harry Sayers even took out his ear piece for a second to listen to and take in this truly euphoric moment for the band.

If your vocal cords weren’t already broken from yelling the lyrics to all of the other songs yet, they most definitely were after Safia played their euphoric collab with Peking Duk, “Take Me Over”. After taking a quick intermission the band jumped back on stage for the encore, playing their album opener “Zion”, a brooding instrumental track and an all round banger. They then switched up their electronic sounds just for a moment with a rocky rendition of “Go To Waste”. While the original plays out as a simple ballad, the live track takes on an emotional rock soundscape, with massive percussion hits provided by drummer Michael Bell. Pink confetti rained down on the crowd once more, as the boys ended their spectacular set with “External”, a meld of tropical rhythmic paces, bouncy synths and non-stop dancing.

Safia blessed Melbourne with a truly incredible show. From the opening acts, to the visuals to the tunes themselves, it’s no wonder the Canberra dudes are on their way to becoming one of the biggest acts in Australia right now.