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Tash Enters The Flow Territory

Words and photos by Rachel Younger

Ok, my heading is terrible. But Tash Sultana choosing to include the NT on her worldwide Flow State tour definitely isn’t.

Even with the weather looking decidedly sketchy, there was a huge line outside the outdoor Mindil Beach venue before the gates even opened. Local rising star Stevie Jean pulled a solid early audience and it was awesome to see so many people singing along to her beautiful songs that are rapidly gaining traction across Australia. Her easy banter and incredible voice were a gorgeous start to the evening.

Ocean Alley’s popularity has skyrocketed since winning the Triple J Hottest 100 last year and the crowd was packed by the time the funk-reggae-rockers took to the stage. Playing a slew of hits from their three albums, their incredible lighting cues were complimented by an even more impressive lightning show overhead. Only in the Top End would you be treated to a visual feast like this!! There was probably no more than 20 seconds of light rain but I don’t think anything could have dampened the spirits of the crowd. Ocean Alley finished with the Hottest 100 number one, Confidence, and the second the first notes were played there was a sea of phones filming and you could barely hear the band through the crowd screaming every word.

The stage was then reconfigured into some kind of psychedelic bedroom setting for Tash’s set. Neon lights of cactus, a flamingo, a rainbow and palm tree, along with incense, salt lamps and Hindu-inspired cloth printed with “Om” signs adorned the stage. She later explained that these are the things she has in her studio at home.

Tash walked on stage barefoot and carrying a guitar. The crowd went wild. Opening with ‘Seed‘ (intro) she had the crowd in the palm of her hands. As she moved her way through songs and she also moved her way through instruments. She showed off her skills on guitar, keyboard, pan flute, trumpet, sitar, vocals and beatboxing as she built each song through looping one instrument at a time. Her whole body is in motion and moving with every beat. She seems to be lost in the music throughout most of her set. Her passion and fire are evident in every move she makes.

Most songs were off her latest album ‘Flow State’, but a highlight of the night was one of her earlier songs, ‘Notion’. She jammed this one for at least a good 15 minutes. There are not a lot of people that can get away with that! It’s amazing to witness the sound coming from one person. And anyone who has tried looping before in a live setting would understand that it’s an absolute minefield and the technology behind her new looping system is obviously phenomenal.

She finished up with ‘Jungle‘, the song that started her journey. She introduced the song saying “I wrote a song in my bedroom one day, not thinking anything of it, and it turns out, how it turns out.” And judging by the deafening crowd singalong, it turned out pretty well. She came back on stage for an encore of ‘Blackbird‘, sitting down on a stool with her guitar for a lovely end to the evening.

She didn’t talk very much during the entire 2-hour set and you get the feeling sometimes that you are watching her alone in her room – jamming and indulging her musical desires. But she is one hundred percent a one-person powerhouse and you can’t argue with sold-out shows across the entire world and the smiles on the faces of the crowd leaving the Mindil Beach venue.

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