On Saturday, Adelaidians flocked to Lake Breeze Wines, Langhorne Creek for the annual Handpicked Festival. Handpicked is a one-of-a-kind boutique festival that brings world-class acts right to SA’s backyard. The day is an absolutely joyous celebration of Australian music, but is also so much more than your average music festival. Accurately described on their website as a “sensory overload”, Handpicked is everything you’ve ever wanted in a festival.
As festival-goers walked through the gates on Saturday, it was difficult to know where to turn. The peckish could wander through The Food Garden, where their tastebuds would be satisfied with an array of SA food trucks. Amongst the delectable eats were vegetarian caterers Let Them Eat, barbequed goodness from Gourmet Grillers, and (perfect for the 30-degree weather) handmade artesian ice pops from Popsicool.
Handpicked also had our shopping needs covered with The Lane, which truly was every market shopper’s dream. With lanterns dreamily strung up overhead, there’s no doubt The Lane impressed crowds from first glance. Local artisans and creatives from the Fleurieu Region had the opportunity to showcase their works, including vibrant and intricate flower crowns from Flower Crown Fallon, quirky jewellery and accessories from LP Handmade, and the must-have festival body art courtesy of Henna by Laura.
Handpicked Festival is located at an award-winning winery, so it’s only fitting that the drinks on show were a major drawcard for festival-goers. This year saw Handpicked introduce the magical Cocktail Forest, a seriously gorgeous boutique bar tucked between gum trees. Fairy lights, hammocks and even chandeliers all created the perfect atmosphere to sample the newly crafted cocktail menu, which featured Lake Breeze’s own Moscato, Rosé and Vermentino wines. The wines weren’t all that were on show in The Cocktail Forest though; there was also prime-quality chocolate from Adelaide Hill’s Red Cacao Chocolatiers, and a range of handcrafted cheeses by Paris Creek B-d. Farms.
For those wanting to sample a wine and enjoy the music at the same time, there was The Barrel Bar, located in close proximity to the stage. The 10-metre-high walls of the bar are made from vintage wine barrels, which made it the perfect spot to stop and take in the music or get that insta-perfect pic. Those who waited in the long lines at the bar were rewarded with the wide variety of specialty wines on offer.
The food, wine and shopping were no doubt impressive, living up to the acclaimed festival’s hype. However, most of the Handpicked crowd had been drawn to the event for one reason – the absolutely stellar 2017 line-up. The all-Aussie line-up consisted of some truly incredible home-grown talent. Kicking off the live acts was award-winning Adelaide folk artist Alana Jagt. Alana’s jazzy voice complemented the relaxed atmosphere of the early afternoon – as festival-goers arrived, many listened with interest whilst enjoying lunch. Combining slower and more upbeat tunes within her set, overall Alana’s laid-back sound was the perfect start to the day.
Next up was six-piece indie/folk band The Winter Gypsy, who kicked up the energy of the day with a truly enthusiastic performance. Their ambient sound coupled with some pretty impressive instrumental work enticed the crowd, drawing more people up from their seats. The band played tunes off their 2016 EP Page 1, including the title track. As their set came to a close, it was clear that The Winter Gypsy had impressed their audience and earned themselves a few new fans.
In the mid-afternoon it was Jimmy & The Mirrors’ turn to perform, and they blew it out of the water. The band’s philosophy seems to simply be to create music that makes people really, really happy – and they definitely did just that. The crowd were the most animated they had been all day, with the light-hearted music of the band becoming infectious. The boys dedicated much of their set to performing songs from 2014 EP Where’s Ben?, and to the delight of many (myself included), they rounded out their performance with a cover of Paul Kelly’s ‘To Her Door’.
Some of the grooviest tunes of the day came from Adelaide band Leo, who built on the infectious energy of the previous performance. Known for their affinity for vintage pop and RnB, Leo’s sound seamlessly combined elements of these two genres with a distinctive electronic-synth sound, reminiscent of Client Liaison’s music. The band were undoubtedly one of the funkiest acts of the festival, performing new single ‘Ecstasy’ and even managing to squeeze in a cheeky homage to Backstreet Boys. Leo’s stellar performance was made better by their genuine excitement and gratitude to be there, and they made sure to profusely thank the crowd as they exited the stage.
Sadly, The Jezabels’ scheduled appearance was cancelled last minute due to illness – luckily, Sydney singer-songwriter Dean Lewis was available to fill in. Known for emotive lyrics and acoustic tunes, Lewis slowed it right down with his melodies, providing a calmer atmosphere after the intensity and energy of the last few sets. Lewis performed a selection of songs from recent EP Same Kind of Different, including ‘Lose My Mind’, ‘Chemicals’ and a beautiful acoustic rendition of ‘Need You Now’. Ending his set on breakout single ‘Waves’, Dean Lewis proved that he was a worthy replacement for The Jezabels, and gave the audience a chance to unwind and relax before the energy ramped up again with San Cisco.
Attracting one of the biggest crowds of the day, one of Australia’s most loved indie-pop bands did not disappoint. San Cisco’s performance was energised and just plain fun. Not one person in the crowd was still, as San Cisco’s tunes had everyone bopping along. Their set was balanced between newer songs from recent album The Water, and the older crowd-pleasers that everyone was hanging out to hear. It’s no surprise that classics such as ‘Awkward’ and ‘Fred Astaire’ were hits with the crowd, as was an enthusiastic performance of ‘Too Much Time Together’ from 2015 album Gracetown. The crowd was alerted to the fact that it was vocalist Scarlett Stevens’ birthday the next day – after the obligatory singing of ‘Happy Birthday’, the band ended their set with A+ tune ‘Run’.
Next up was the enchanting sounds of Matt Corby, appearing on stage just as the sun had set. Kicking off his set with a performance of ‘Why Dream’, Corby continued to perform songs off debut album Telluric. Corby’s performance was nothing short of dreamlike – the audience was entranced by his smooth, distinctive vocals and overall musical talent, from fervent guitar playing to intricate flute solos. Corby delighted listeners with a slow, stripped-back cover of Tina Arena’s 1994 hit ‘Chains’. Of course, no Matt Corby set is complete without ‘Brother’ and ‘Resolution’ – it was clear that the performance of these favourites was a hit with the crowd. By the time Corby exited the stage, it was difficult to see how the night could possibly get better – then much-anticipated headliners Jet appeared.
The band’s first time in South Australia in 6 years, Jet did not disappoint as headliners of the festival. Opening with 2003’s single ‘Cold Hard Bitch’ from album Get Born, festival goers were reminded of the gritty-rock sound and unbounded enthusiasm that makes Jet so well loved by Australia. The band played hit after hit, including ‘She’s A Genius’ and slower melody ‘Look What You’ve Done’. Interspersing their set with chatter to the crowd, expressing gratitude for the beautiful location and beer-sculling with audience members, Jet powered through their set with more crowd favourites including ‘Seventeen’ and, of course, ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’, which had the crowd jiving like there was no tomorrow. Ending the night on an all-time high, Jet had festival-goers leaving exhausted but happier than they’d been all day, and ensured Handpicked Festival 2017 would be one to remember.
All photos taken by Dave Rubinich.