It's that time of year again, and Vivid is back to light up the streets of Sydney for another year. After the absence of vibrant events, lights, arts and culture in 2020; this year's festival is an exciting and long-awaited celebration of creativity and innovation. Arguably, one of our favourite parts of the festival every year centres around the incredible live and musical acts that take centre stage – and the Vivid LIVE 2021 lineup is nothing short of incredible, homegrown talent.
The 12th annual centrepiece contemporary music event will take place between August 6-28; featuring more acts and dates than ever before including seven Australian exclusives, three world premieres, 17 Sydney Opera House debut acts, an anniversary, and two special, artist-curated projects.
Ahead of Vivid LIVE 2021, the RUSSH team have curated their top 10 unmissable performances to add to your list. See you there!
To commemorate this year's Lighting of the Sails, new digital artwork, Yarrkalpa – Hunting Ground, 2021, created by the Martu Artists and Sydney-based animation artist Curiious, will transform the city's most iconic canvas. The piece will highlight the Parnngurr community and its surrounding landscape; with an accompanying soundtrack by Electric Fields and the Martu Artists.
The ultimate Vivid treat comes courtesy of musician, rapper and songwriter, Sampa the Great; who will be sharing two Australian-exclusive debut performances of her long-awaited new show An Afro Future. The show will consist of a performance of the four-time ARIA award-winning debut album The Return; alongside her band, dancers, singers and special guests Mwanjѐ and KYE.
When: August 8.
A celebration of Australian music in all its forms, one of Australia’s leading music management, touring and events companies and innovative record labels, Astral People, is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a two-day line-up of the country's best musical talents. You can expect performances from Cosmo’s Midnight, Hiatus Kaiyote, DJ Seinfeld (SWE), Genesis Owusu & The Black Dog Band and more.
When: August 19 and 20.
Rainbow Chan and Marcus Whale and Eugene Choi are bringing Wong Kar-wai’s multi-award-winning Cantonese film onto the live stage. The world premiere, live debut and Australian exclusive performance of In the Mood: A Love Letter to Wong Kar-wai and Hong Kong will feature a theatrical set, 60s style costumes, and sax-drenched renditions of the film’s romantic soundtrack. A heartbreaking tale of longing, intimacy and forbidden love.
When: August 21.
Comanding the liminal space between genres for over three decades, internationally-acclaimed and ARIA award-winning Australian experimental jazz-rock trio The Necks, will return to the Opera House stage for two performances during Vivid LIVE. The dynamic band are known as masters of long-form improvisation and creating mesmerising sonic experiences; sure to keep you enthralled for hours on end.
When: August 27 and 28.
Victorian-based, experimental electronica and dub-rock duo HTRK are finally making their long-overdue Opera House debut. Jonnine Standish and Nigel Yang have spent the last 18 years pushing, provoking and inviting audiences with their dirge-like drum machine rhythms and sensuous vocals. August will see the release of their highly-anticipated fifth album, so this performance at Vivid LIVE 2021 is not one to miss.
When: August 13 and 18.
Budjerah Slabb is no stranger to the RUSSH audience. The 19-year-old Bundjalung descendent and soulful singer-songwriter first made his mark with his hit song Missing You, and has continued to go from strength-to-strength in the last year. For Vivid LIVE, Budjerah will be making his Opera House headline debut in an intimate and rare solo show in the Utzon Room. You can expect to hear more of his unique sound that blends his childhood-inspired elements of gospel and soul with contemporary pop and R&B references.
When: August 26.
Perth-based art rock masterminds, Methyl Ethel, are making their Opera House debut as part of Vivid LIVE. Singer, songwriter and all-round pop savant Jake Webb, will be joined by bandmates Thom Stewart, Chris Wright, Jacob Diamond and Lyndon Blue for two nights of hazy dream pop, psychedelic rock and quirky new wave sounds.
When: August 17 and 18.
Sydney post-punk lords Low Life are no strangers to the Opera House stage. Last year, during the Opera House's From Our House to Yours gigital season, Low Life debut in a ferocious performance of guttural guitars and anthemic vocals streamed live. In 2021, they're back and ready to share their magic with a full room, in addition to performing several new singles.
When: August 19 and 27.
There's not much that African-Australian rock star, and guitar-wielding rapper, singer and producer BLESSED, can't do. For his Sydney Opera House debut, BLESSED is bridging the worlds of punk and hip-hop to exclusively perform DIASPORA. He'll also be joined by friends and collaborators B Wise, Maina Doe, Manu Crooks and more in a special artist-curated evening. This is one not to miss.
When: August 22.
You can find the full program for Vivid LIVE 2021 on the Sydney Opera House website.