WORDS Hannah Salt

PHOTOS Brett Rechichi, Hannah Salt

Despite the threat of another severe weather warning, thousands flocked to Elizabeth Quay to celebrate WA Day. And what better way to celebrate everything WA than having over 50 food trucks, pop-up bars, and local musicians playing for free. The State of the Art Festival kicked off for the seventh year running with headlining acts Birds of Tokyo and San Cisco.

Perth’s very own X-Factor contestant Sydnee Carter performed a heartwarming set with her beautifully poised voice and mature, down-to-earth stage presence. Featuring a mix of her own songs, as well as collaborations with artists, Sydnee lifted the spirits of the crowd. Her WAM song of the year When We Were Young (which was written in two days) effortlessly pulled the crowd along with swaying heads and smiles. Shortly followed was her standout colab with Slumberjack – Afraid Unafraid. This upbeat and well-thought-out song drew crowds when it was first released – and she drew the crowds yet again during her set. Sydnee set the expectation bar high for the acts to come. 

Fremantle’s Carla Geneve rocked the stage next, with her powerful voice and quirky songs. Although her set was short and the crowd small, she jammed out like there was no tomorrow. Her latest release Listening was a personal favourite, with the touching lyrics written from the perspective of a friend going through a rough relationship. Greg’s Discount Chemist was also a real crowd pleaser – everyone belting the out lyrics with her. It’s hard to believe this stellar performer was only 18. 

Triple J Unearthed High winner Arno Faraji rapped his way through his short set, with his forward-thinking and out-of-the-ordinary hip-hop songs. His winning song Destiny’s got the crowd roaring, with the electronic and self-produced beat tied with his distinctive vocals. Followed shortly by his hit song Tree’x, the tropical beat and summer vibe made the crowd forget about the incoming storm. His authentic charisma and captivating energy made for an unforgettable performance.

Another one of Fremantle’s greatest and the Triple J Unearthed Artist of the Year Stella Donnelly stole the hearts and tears of the crowd. Her quirky stage presence teed up with her humour and array of songs made for a breathtaking set. From peculiar songs about Sportsbet and horrible ex-bosses to the raw and hard-hitting lyrics in her song Boys Will Be Boys, the crowd was left in awe. This set left no doubt in my mind that this superstar was quickly on the rise.

Aria nominated Mama Kin and producer Tom Spender blew the crowd away with their energetic and soul-touching performance. They were joined by an impressive 15 or so piece choir who added that special touch to their set. With Mama Kin on the drums, and Spender on the guitar, the pair welcomed the growing crowds in with their alternative song style.

The tent neared full capacity as Freo indie-pop band San Cisco performed a jaw-dropping set. Frontman Jordi Davieson led the crew through songs off each of their three albums – San Cisco, Gracetown and their latest The Water. Their disco-inspired song The Distance got the crowd on their feet and dancing like no one was watching. The fans didn’t stop their moving the whole gig, especially for my personal favourite Too Much Time Together. This upbeat and lively song made me fall in love with San Cisco even more. Followed by an oldie but a goodie – Fred Astaire made the crowd go wild. The band belted out this tune with all they had, while lead singer Jordi jumped off stage and close to the crowd for the chorus. And boy did the crowd sing their hearts out for him.

As the heavy rain set in, the much-anticipated Birds of Tokyo were next to take the stage, creating the perfect blend of new and old. Starting off their set with a crowd favorite Plans, the phones came out and torches turned on. Swaying along to the touching euphony, fans bellowed out the tune. Their mellowing Anchor got the heads of the crowd bopping, and smiles growing, alongside hit song I’d Go With You Anywhere. The gentle and catchy intro of Lanterns brought the torches back out along with a great cheer from the crowd. The powerful music from Birds of Tokyo, their unreal stage presence and commitment to performance made for a touching and inspirational show.