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Music review: Day Tripper, RISING Festival, Melbourne Town Hall

It’s rare for a festival to have both strong acts and organisation, 'Day Tripper' ticks all the boxes.
A throng of punters watch on as three musicians perform on stage. Two of them are indistinct on the dark stage but Asha Puythi is well lit. With her arms outstretched, her colourful poncho resembles butterfly wings.

Curated for RISING Festival, Day Tripper spanned eight hours, four venues and multiple artistic mediums, encapsulating the immense power of the arts scene in Melbourne/Naarm to bring people together over the thrum of a beat.

Presented by community radio station Three Triple R, Day Tripper hosted a big lineup from around the globe. 

Melbourne Town Hall’s main stage featured 79-year-old disco icon Asha Puthli, performing with a live band and without backing tracks for the first time. The self-proclaimed space cadet charmed the crowd with off-kilter quips and a clear love for the musicians joining her on stage. Her closing track ‘Space Walk’ was met with great cheers, but her lesser known songs were just as good.

Despite the quick shift of styles, the audience’s energy stayed high for Yasiin Bey’s first RISING Festival appearance, a tribute to the late MF Doom.

In a new duo, Memorials, Electrelane’s Verity Susman and Wire’s Matthew Simms played an expansive set with a setup resembling a five-piece band. Despite an early set time, the multi-instrumentalists attracted a big crowd, boding well for their Melbourne and Sydney headline shows. 

There was no less talent at the Lower Town Hall stage. Artists including Welsh indie outfit The Tubs, New Zealand’s Alastair Galbraith and locals Wet Kiss turned the lower floor of Melbourne Town Hall into an underground music hub, feeling much like Triple R’s own studios. 

Merging contemporary dance with live techno, Naarm/Melbourne collective Polito closed the day at the lower-level stage with an entrancing performance experience. 

On the other side of Swanston Street at Max Watt’s, duo HTRK celebrated their 21st year together with a curated lineup. Danish composer and viola player Astrid Sonne was a standout, moving between delicate melodies and heavy electronic beats.

Read: Theatre review: The Audition, Bunjil Place

As if the lineup wasn’t enough to keep music-devotees occupied, tickets included priority access to RISING Festival’s 24 Hour Rock Show – a free 24-hour marathon of music documentaries featuring everyone from The Rolling Stones to Björk. 

For Day Trippers who needed to take a break, RISING set up a Sensory Space at Melbourne Town Hall, fitted out with noise-cancelling ear muffs, fidget toys and eye masks, and also maintained a strong focus on accessibility across all venues.

If we needed an example of how well a festival can be run, Day Tripper is it.

Day Tripper was held at the Melbourne Town Hall and associated venues on 8 June 2024. RISING Festival continues until 16 June 2024.

Savannah Indigo is a researcher and copywriter, trained in publishing, dance, literature and law. Passionate about gender issues and promoting equity through tech design, she has researched Indigenous Data Sovereignty for the Commission for Gender Equality in the Public Sector and is developing a paper about harassment in the Metaverse. She has written for Brow Books, Books+Publishing magazine, The Journal of Supernatural Literature (Deakin University) and the Science and Technology Law Association, and is a 2022 Hot Desk Fellow at The Wheeler Centre.