The Sydney Opera House has revealed the full line-up for its centrepiece contemporary music event, Vivid LIVE 2023, taking place from Friday 26 May – Saturday 17 June as part of Vivid Sydney, Australia’s largest festival of light, music, ideas, and – this year – food.
Transforming the Opera House inside and out, Vivid LIVE 2023 forms part of Vivid Sydney's Music program and will feature over 45 artists, including 19 international artists, six Australian exclusives, three orchestral collaborations and four party collectives, presented all across the world-famous building: from the acoustically enhanced Concert Hall, to the vaulted Joan Sutherland Theatre, the intimate spaces of the Utzon Room and the Drama Theatre, the legendary dance floor of the Studio and, most publicly, on the iconic sails.
Curated for the eighth time by the Opera House’s Head of Contemporary Music, Ben Marshall, the Vivid LIVE program will showcase a curated series of Australian premieres, exclusives and bespoke projects celebrating iconic and ambitious artists that defy expectation and break new ground.
“You’ll remember when the music strikes you at the Sydney Opera House this year. From Cat Power exclusively reinterpreting the moment Bob Dylan went electric, Devonté Hynes going classical with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in his only Australian appearance, Jaguar Jonze’s unique one-off presentation of The Art of Broken Pieces, to José González stripping everything back to just himself and a guitar for his exclusive residency celebrating the 20th Anniversary of his seismic album Veneer.
We are incredibly proud to host the Sydney debuts of Max Richter’s majestic, moving Ambient Orchestra and the mighty Ethel Cain, to present the triumphant return of Ella Mai and welcome Yaeji back for two exclusive nights, and to finally present the first Sydney Opera House headline performances from artists like Budjerah, Weyes Blood, Thundercat, Becca Hatch, Sleaford Mods, Birdz & Fred Leone and many others.
And, as always, we hand the building over to the brilliant local collectives who help make Sydney somewhere worth living – from House of Mince’s 12th birthday to Mad Racket, Picnic and Future Classic’s Studio parties and Low Life’s stunning curation of Scandinavian post-punk plus more, over two evenings of Posh Isolation.
Lighting of the Sails fittingly honours Australia’s legendary artist John Olsen in the 50th anniversary year of the Opera House, home to Olsen’s beguiling mural Salute to Five Bells. A dazzling arc of Olsen’s most significant works will be brought to life by Curiious.
I’m elated to contribute the 2023 Vivid LIVE music program to Sydney’s ongoing renaissance. Vivid Sydney continues to be a galvanising force, reigniting life in the heart of this city I deeply care for, especially in the 50th year of the Sydney Opera House - that is, after all, everyone’s house,” says Sydney Opera House Head of Contemporary Music and Vivid LIVE Curator, Ben Marshall.
“Vivid Sydney 2023 is a celebration of authenticity, an invitation to connect and a chance to create and we are delighted to continue our partnership with Sydney Opera House to showcase this through Vivid LIVE and Lighting of the Sails as part of Vivid Sydney 2023,” said Vivid Sydney Festival Director, Gill Minervini.
The full line-up includes:
LIGHTING OF THE SAILS
JOHN OLSEN: LIFE ENLIVENED (2023) Distilling the essence of Australian artist John Olsen’s esteemed 60-year career, the animated artwork spotlights Olsen’s enduring interest and fascination with Australian nature and landscape. Through images selected by curator Dr. Deborah Hart and animated by creative technologists Curiious, Life Enlivened (2023) celebrates the propulsive power of Olsen’s painterly brush - including his evocative Salute to Five Bells (1971-73) mural commissioned especially for the Concert Hall Northern Foyer - to envision the natural world anew.
JOSÉ GONZÁLEZ (SWE): VENEER 20th ANNIVERSARY (AU Exclusive) The Swedish folk-pop guitar master will celebrate the 20th anniversary of his game-changing debut Veneer. Powered by a zeitgeist-defining cover of The Knife’s “Heartbeats” and the delicate hit “Crosses”, the hushed, intricate songs of Veneer have become part of the fabric of modern life for many.
CAT POWER (USA) SINGS DYLAN: THE 1966 ROYAL ALBERT HALL CONCERT (AU Exclusive) Indie rock royalty Cat Power – a.k.a. Chan Marshall – will play one special night in the Concert Hall where she’ll recreate Bob Dylan’s legendary 1966 ‘Royal Albert Hall’ performance – where the folk rocker scandalised audiences with his pivot to electric guitar – in its entirety, all 15 songs true to form with her with uniquely indelible phrasing and dusky voice.
DEVONTÉ HYNES (UK): SELECTED CLASSICAL WORKS WITH THE SYDNEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA (AU Exclusive) Returning to Australia for the first time in more than a decade, Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Devonté Hynes will perform a suite of classical works that draw upon his genre-defying, multimedia sounds, accompanied by the might of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
MAX RICHTER (GER): AMBIENT ORCHESTRA WITH THE SYDNEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Groundbreaking pianist, composer and new-classical polymath Max Richter, conductor Matthew Lynch and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra present his innovative new project, Ambient Orchestra – an odyssey through ambient sound featuring acclaimed British soprano Grace Davidson and two Australian premieres: Exiles (2020) and Testament (2021). Performed live for only the second time following its London premiere last year.
ELLA MAI (UK) Grammy-winning R&B torchbearer Ella Mai returns for a night of lush grooves and old-school soul. After her 2018 smash hit “Boo’d Up” made her the first woman since Beyoncé to top three R&B and hip-hop charts simultaneously, the South London singer has collaborated extensively with everyone from rap royalty Nicki Minaj, Quavo and Meek Mill, to pop heavyweights Usher, John Legend and Ed Sheeran.
THUNDERCAT (USA) Grammy-winning LA native Stephen Bruner – better known as Thundercat – will lay down his scorching fusion of funk, R&B, psychedelic jazz and hip-hop for his first Australian show in five years. The virtuoso bassist who has collaborated with artists including Childish Gambino, Janelle Monáe, Haim, SZA, Travis Scott, George Clinton, Gorillaz and, famously, superstar Kendrick Lamar, and many others, will deliver his stunning musicianship and whimsical philosophy in equal measure.
HIATUS KAIYOTE AND THE SYDNEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA (AU Exclusive) Multiple Grammy-nominated genre-defying future-soul outfit Hiatus Kaiyote expand into new sonic territory with their biggest show to date. The Melbourne seven piece will unleash their head-spinning odyssey of progressive soul on the iconic Concert Hall for one night only, where they’ll be joined by the power of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE
YAEJI (USA) (AU Exclusive) Korean-American producer and DJ Yaeji will return with her bilingual blend of house, sophisticated grooves and left-field beats - and the debut of a new immersive multimedia live show filled with choreographed moments.
WEYES BLOOD (USA) One of the most acclaimed singer-songwriters of the moment, folk-pop musician Weyes Blood - a.k.a. Natalie Mering - returns to Australia to make her highly anticipated Sydney Opera House debut. Hot off her acclaimed new record, And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow (2022), Mering will set the room aglow with her lush and haunting chamber pop – at once deeply personal and an eerie reflection of the global anxieties of our time.
KIMBRA (NZ) Returning to Australia after five years to celebrate the release of her bold new album, A Reckoning, Grammy-award-winning singer-songwriter Kimbra brings a night of eclectic, experimental pop and acrobatic vocals. Inspired by the likes of Prince and Minnie Riperton, NY-based Kimbra has established herself as one of the most unique artists of our era, moving effortlessly between smash collaborations and her own brand of innovative, idiosyncratic pop.
SLEAFORD MODS (UK) (NSW Exclusive) Immaculately enraged and ferociously poetic, the clattering British punk-hop duo will perform hot off the release of their album UK GRIM. Their combination of barbed electronics and wired East Midlands rants has amassed high-profile fans including Iggy Pop, who paid tribute by covering their grinding 2009 track “Chop Chop Chop”.
SQUAREPUSHER (UK) (NSW Exclusive) The pioneering drum’n’bass experimentalist returns with the breakneck beats and visceral fun of his recent 2020 career opus Be Up A Hello, along with a brand new composition.
ALFA MIST (UK) WITH SPECIAL GUESTS SWOOPING + ELLA HABER Acclaimed British multi-instrumentalist Alfa Mist joins Hiatus Kaiyote spin-off Swooping and emerging soul singer Ella Haber for a night of hip-hop, R&B and improvised jazz fusion.
ETHEL CAIN (USA) (NSW Exclusive) In her first Australian appearance, acclaimed American singer-songwriter Ethel Cain - a.k.a Hayden Silas Anhedönia - brings her haunting Gothic pop to Vivid LIVE. From a conservative religious upbringing in Florida to inclusion on Barack Obama’s annual playlist, the acclaim for her debut album, the Preacher’s Daughter (2022), has established the 24-year-old as one of the hottest new talents of the moment.
JEN CLOHER The Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Kahu indie legend will perform their tender and ferociously raw rock’n’roll anthemic pop in an explosive return to live performance following the release of their long-awaited new album I Am The River, The River Is Me.
THE NECKS Acclaimed improvisational trio The Necks (Chris Abrahams, Tony Buck and Lloyd Swanton) return for two entrancing nights of their inimitable brand of in-the-moment, long-form wonder. Fresh from releasing their new double album Travel, the ARIA Award-winning alchemists have been hailed as “the greatest trio on Earth” by the New York Times.
MARTHA MARLOW ARIA-nominated singer-songwriter and composer Martha Marlow is joined by piano virtuoso Chris Abrahams for a special performance of new songs from their hauntingly exquisite upcoming album Queen Of The Night.
BUDJERAH The Coodjinburra R&B sensation will mesmerise fans with his soulful chops following two mammoth years. Skyrocketing from Fingal Head’s homegrown hero to a globally-celebrated artist, Budjerah has featured on Ed Sheeran’s single “2Step”, supported the pop megastar’s Australian stadium tour, earned back-to-back ARIAs and countless nominations, and wrapped his first world tour.
JAGUAR JONZE: THE ART OF BROKEN PIECES (AU Exclusive) Emerging as one of Australian music’s most fearless cultural forces, the ground-breaking activist will bring the powerful catharsis of her acclaimed record, BUNNY MODE, to Vivid LIVE. Her ambitious new performance piece, The Art of Broken Pieces combines art, music, voice performance and her multicultural experience to present a love letter to music, the untold story of what has carried her to this moment, and her rallying cry for change.
POSH ISOLATION PRESENTS: HTRK, LUST FOR YOUTH (SE/DK), CROATIAN AMOR (DK), YL HOOI and ICEAGE (DK), LOW LIFE, DX Curated by Mitch Tolman of local punk heroes Low Life, Nordic noise will mingle with the music of Australia’s bar-rooms and bunkers over two nights, featuring Danish rockers Iceage, industrial experimentalist Croatian Amor and Scandinavian synth duo Lust For Youth, plus Melbourne’s cult duo HTRK, the live debut of post-punk supergroup DX – featuring members of Total Control, Diät and Den – and the ethereal dub of YL Hooi.
BECCA HATCH Exploding out of Western Sydney, Kamilaroi-Samoan singer-songwriter Becca Hatch returns to perform her infectious brand of dance-pop. Over a string of captivating singles, with two new tracks with KIAN and Club Angel on the horizon, the 22-year-old shape-shifting star has carved out a genre-bending space in R&B, dance and pop that defies comparison.
BIRDZ & FRED LEONE PRESENT: GIRRA Cousins and musical brothers from the Butchulla Nation, rapper Birdz and Songman Fred Leone are a formidable double act - their anti-colonialist hip-hop collaboration “Bagi-la-m Bargan” stormed the 2020 Triple J Hottest 100. After making his Vivid LIVE debut as part of Briggs’ Bad Apples House Party in 2019, Birdz returns with Leone for a night of uncompromising rhymes.
ASHLI Fresh from her breakout performance at South by Southwest in Austin, New Jersey-born, Western Sydney-based singer-songwriter Ashli brings her hypnotic mix of R&B, pop and soul, capturing the city in all of its love, lust and heartbreak.
MAINA DOE Fusing futuristic hip-hop, pop and jazz with her soulful vocals, emerging star Maina Doe is the sound of Sydney’s booming young R&B scene. Having just released a new single, “WYA” with IJALE and King Ivy, plus her own single "Primal Design” in late 2022, Doe will bring her love of old-school jams and digital-age funk, crafting a multi-dimensional sound that is warm, familiar and distinctly her own.
PIRRA Meaning ‘moon’ in Luritja, Pirra will treat audiences to their irresistible rhythms, silken melodies and powerful vocals by Luritja woman Jess Beck. The dance-pop quartet teamed up with renowned producers including Konstantin Kersting (Tones & I) and PNAU’s Sam Littlemore for their sophomore album Spirals, having graced the stages of major festivals Listen Out and Great Southern Nights.
PANIA Raised in the cultural melting pot of West Melbourne, R&B up-and-comer PANIA will take over the Utzon Room for her second ever Sydney show. The singer’s smouldering bops “ICYY” and “tiki” were both immortalised in the Netflix smash hit Heartbreak High, blending the romantic nostalgia of 2000s R&B with the late-night soundscapes of rap giant Drake’s OVO producers.
JACOTÉNE Teenage soul sensation JACOTÉNE is already wowing critics and audiences – from Laneway Festival to sold-out crowds in London – with her powerful take on classic soul sounds. Uploaded moments before the competition’s closing deadline, “I Need Therapy (demo)” took home the Triple J Unearthed High prize and rapidly became one of the network’s most-played tracks.
STUDIO – VIVID LIVE PARTIES
Celebrating the best in local club culture hosted by Opera House’s favourite club-scene innovators
STUDIO PARTY: MAD RACKET feat PLAID (UK) The Inner West’s longest-running dance institution Mad Racket - Sydney DJ collective of Ken Cloud, Simon Caldwell, Zootie and Jimmi James – will converge with British legends Plaid - aka Ed Handley and Andy Turner - for a massive night of beats, bleeps and bangers.
STUDIO PARTY: PICNIC PARTY From their low-key beginnings in inner-city clubs and warehouse spaces, Sydney club gurus Picnic return with a wild party featuring some of the city’s finest DJs, club acts and very special guests, with full line-up to be announced.
STUDIO PARTY: FUTURE CLASSIC feat NIKKI NAIR (USA) & MARTYN BOOTYSPOON (CAN) Innovative Sydney label Future Classic curate a line-up of cutting-edge club music handpicked from across the globe, with Nikki Nair bringing his range of bass-heavy techno belters, and Martyn Bootyspoon lining up playful techno nrg ahead of releases on the FC Club Series, with Melbourne DJ Shake Daddy opening the room. More acts to be announced soon.
STUDIO PARTY: HOUSE OF MINCE 12th BIRTHDAY - Legendary local collective House of Mince will lift Vivid LIVE to euphoric new heights at their 12th birthday bash, with special guests and full line-up to be announced.
Tickets on sale to the general public Friday 17 March at midday AEDT.
Photo HIATUS KAIYOTE credit_Sangiorgi_Dalimore