Holding a soul and hip hop festival in a country that has been best known for its pop and rock exports like INXS and AC/DC might seem like a fairly odd decision. But in light of the burgeoning soul music scene bubbling away down under and gaining traction internationally, Soulfest, Australia's first neo-soul, jazz and hip hop festival, took a punt on soul and hip hop music and delivered a festival that had its highs and its lows.
As soul and hip hop music and culture are both relatively young in Australia, it makes sense that the debut of this event would have to rely on international artists to ignite excitement in fans and keep anticipation high. With a stellar roll call of international soul music icons on the bill -- Musiq Soulchild, Leela James, Anthony Hamilton, Aloe Blacc, Common, Mos Def, Maxwell and D'Angelo -- the festival had a lot to live up to. And that's before we even touch on the locals who all delivered sets with heart and tons of soul.
So did it live up to the hype? Well, yes, but perhaps it's best to get the glitches out of the way first. Sound issues hampered the Sydney sets on Saturday 18th October and Mos Def was a no show, while Melbourne on Sunday October 19th had the disappointing cancellation of the local artist stage to contend with. Those factors put a dampener on the affair, but they could not destroy the electric energy of the eclectic audience that had gathered.
Now on to the deliciously tasty good stuff. And oh boy, what each and every one of these artists served up was something worth savoring.