Mona Foma returned to Launceston with a stunning mix of visual and performing art and an exciting program of diverse musical acts. Arts reporter Frances Vinall gave the lowdown on the parties and visual art, while photographer and resident music fan Scott Gelston has picked his five favourite musical sets from the weekend.
Thursday: Thirteen Ways to Look at Birds.
To call Paul Kelly Australia's Bob Dylan would be a disservice to the man.
After a career writing some of Australia's most loved songs, dabbling in genres as diverse as country, electronica, dub and bluegrass, Thirteen Ways to Look at Birds showcased Kelly's ability to curate as well as create amazing works.
Taking lyrics from poetry about our feathered friends, Kelly and his classically-skewed ensemble played a concise set where cello, violin, piano and glockenspiel shone through the mix while fellow composer James Ledger's guitar work gave the perfect atmospheric flourishes to tie everything together.
Flipping his famous line "From little things, big things grow" to "when little things go, big things follow", Kelly spoke of the effects of climate change, not only on birds, but the ecosystem as whole. A clever way to work some current politics into a very polished performance.
Saturday: Orville Peck
A queer Canadian cowboy in a tasseled lone-ranger mask mightn't sound like everyone's cup of tea, but for those who caught the late afternoon set at the Festival Hub, it certainly went down smooth and sweet.
With a vocal delivery similar to Roy Orbison, lyrical content that would sound at home on a Lana Del Rey album, and an honest-to-goodness country backing band, Peck smashed all expectations.
A rollicking cover of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris' classic Ooh Las Vegas backed up by Peck's single Dead of the Night were the best 1-2 punch of the festival.
YOU ARE SO CUTE, NICE FACE, COME ON, YEAH!
Some things aren't lost in translation and the crowd certainly responded to Japanese all girl band Chai.
Pumping up the crowd with a blistering mix of rock, punk, and synth-pop, the four-piece delivered the most high-energy set to be seen at the Festival Hub over the weekend.
Synchronised dance moves, and chants of "We are Chai" and "C.H.A.I", were burnt into the brain of many a festival-goer by the end of the weekend.
Sunday: Flying Lotus 3D
Flying Lotus delivered well beyond expectations with his dynamic mix of psychedelic-hip-hop.
Lime green 3D glasses were handed out from late afternoon, helping build up the hype of the closing set of the night, and those who hung around until the end were not disappointed.
You know the show is captivating when there's middle-aged punters in the second row grooving along, kids under 10 standing along the front row trying to touch the projections that appeared to leap from the screen, and the seasoned 30-year-old festival-goers standing round the fringes, arms folded, just grinning with delight at the whole thing.
Monday: Amanda Palmer
The patron saint of Mona Foma set out to delight her devotees with a near religious experience.
Splitting Palmer's show into two halves seems the most appropriate way to describe the night.
Act one saw Palmer taking the idea behind her confessional and turning it 180. The audience, many of whom had gone along to share their confessions, was now the witness to Palmer's innermost thoughts.
From the basement of the Brisbane Hotel to the bedside of a dying friend, from her own personal experiences of abortion and her fears about parenthood, the show took a decidedly dark turn as a self-confessed emotionally tired Palmer seemingly gave up every ounce of energy onstage.
Act two however was the light from the darkness.
Opening with The Dresden Dolls 'Coin Operated Boy", and sharing the insight that they are working on their first new music in a decade, Palmer hit the ground running.
Working her way up to her new composition created for Mona Foma, "Nailed to a Tree", the audience was captivated as Palmer's second wind saw her take flight, culminating in an all-in singalong to Midnight Oil's 'Beds are Burning' and closing with an off microphone cover of Radiohead's 'Creep'. This was the closing set the festival deserved.
Palmer summed up Mona Foma best herself with the line, "Thanks Launceston. It's been F****** weird."