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The artists you should be listening to: The Vivid LIVE Official Playlist

Go behind the lineup with the Vivid LIVE 2024 curator

Sydney Opera House

This May - June, Vivid LIVE will transform the Sydney Opera House into an electric hub for live contemporary music and art as part of Vivid Sydney. With an exciting and eclectic mix of over 50 influential global acts, beloved locals and emerging voices, this year is something special. 

With only two weeks until the festival kicks off, we spoke to Ben Marshall, Head of Contemporary Music, on what it takes to curate a festival lineup, which acts to look out for, and why Vivid LIVE will be an unmissable night out this winter.

While you’re reading, treat your ears to the sounds of the Official Vivid LIVE 2024 Playlist.

Ben Marshall, on why the Vivid LIVE lineup stands out…

This year’s Vivid LIVE line-up has been particularly well received, in an environment where there’s a big conversation happening about festivals’ place in the current music landscape, so having such a positive response isn’t something I take for granted and makes me especially look forward to staging the event this year. A huge amount of work goes into curating these artists, all of whom have a real integrity and distinctive vision to their work and I’m particularly excited to have the full-scale return of significant international work to this year’s Vivid LIVE, while still entwining it with the most inspiring local and Australian artists.

On the diversity and breadth of genre at Vivid LIVE this year…

I’m always looking to try and capture the current artistic gold-standard of live music performance, across many generations of diverse work. It’s a thrill to be able to sit breakthrough artists like Arca and Snoh Aalegra, next to established top-level names like Air and Underworld - and honour a cohort of artists who’ve been around for a moment but have really become especially revered recently like Fever Ray and Devonté Hynes

Fever Ray (pictured) will be playing their Australian debut in the Concert Hall on 5 & 6 June 2024.

There’s a real through-line of artistic communities when you step back and look at what connects say, Arca, House of Mince and Fever Ray from a queer perspective, the electronic underground that produced Underworld and all the Studio Parties, the close communities that labels Elefant Traks and Spunk Records gathered around them and Vic and Muna of Astral People bringing such a brilliant and up-to-the-minute representation of what makes their SE Asian diaspora so musically exciting right now.

Sid Sriram, Priya Ragu, Raf-Saperra (pictured) with Munasib & Rakish will play as part of “Astral People present Spice Trail” in the Concert Hall on 28 May 2024.

On the importance of AIR’s ‘Moon Safari’...

Electronic music is where I started and a passionate love of mine, and it’s a space that hasn’t always had the thoughtful critical appreciation applied to it compared to say, rock music. Air’s Moon Safari wasn’t only a breakthrough work of electronica in the mid 1990s, it was a virtuosic musical work that was recognised as such from the start. Perfect albums are rare beasts but Moon Safari has not only held that reputation since its release, but grown in stature and this live incarnation of it promises to be the definitive way to experience it.

On Devonté Hynes and why his show with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra is unmissable…

Devonté is well on his way to becoming a Sufjan-esque figure, inspiring fierce and passionate loyalty across his broad-ranging musical explorations. His artistic choices are never careerist and he’s notably generous with his contributions to other, very significant artists’ work. I’ve wanted to honour Dev as a signifiant contemporary artist here for a long time, so it feels beyond perfect to be presenting him performing this sublime selection of his classical works, with the immensely talented UK conductor Matthew Lynch and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in our sonically restored Concert Hall.

Devonté Hynes (pictured) will be playing with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in the Concert Hall on 29 May 2024.

On why the Opera House is the perfect place for artists that defy convention…

Many of this year’s convention-defying artists, such as Fever Ray and Arca, have a distinctive ritualistic aspect to much of their work that can sit them at an angle to current popular music. However the original architect of Sydney Opera House, Jørn Utzon, modelled the building to emulate many of the imposing and sense-heightening aspects of a Mayan Temple, providing the perfect frame and platform for audiences to receive ambitious works like these.

On spotlighting up-and-coming First Nations and Aussie artists…

For my part in the overall global artistic conversation, the real joy is in combining what’s inspiring here with what’s exciting from overseas. I’ve loved working with my colleagues Micheal Hutchings, our Head of First Nations Program, and Jess Beck, our First Nations Producer, to co-curate all the incredible First Nations artists in this year’s festival too, so a big thanks to both of them. I can’t think of a more hotly anticipated Australian album than Thelma Plum’s upcoming release and we have wanted her to go all-out on a signature headline performance here for years, and the ever-brilliant BARKAA is changing gears dramatically at the moment too. It’s important to not just say the Sydney Opera House is for everyone but to be it, and over the years I’ve kept on widening the doorway for emerging local Australian artists to come and take to a stage they deserve to own. This year is a particularly special Australian cohort from across Western Sydney to WA, with Cult ShφttaSouth Summit and Vv Pete amongst many others getting to leave their mark on Sydney Opera House.

BARKAA (pictured) will be playing the Drama Theatre on 31 May 2024.

On Vivid LIVE’s famous Studio parties and bringing club atmosphere to the House…

I think it’s important to not only present the world’s best music at Sydney Opera House over Vivid LIVE, it’s important to honour and acknowledge those who help make this city I love so much, somewhere worth living all year round. I began by promoting uncompromising underground electronic music in nightclubs, so I know what goes into doing that and it is not always easy - but it’s a special cultural space, and another joyous, communal ritual that we lost for so long over the pandemic. Also, the Studio is a genuinely INCREDIBLE space to present these parties in, so it feels like a crying shame not to cut loose in there this way at least once a year! I cannot wait for everyone to see what a superb job Soft Centre’s Sam Whiteside has done converting the room too.

House of Mince, Sydney's favourite queer collective, will take over the Studio on 24 & 26 May 2024.

Vivid LIVE 2024 runs from Friday 24 May - Saturday 15 June 2024 see the full lineup. Vivid Sydney is owned, managed and produced by Destination NSW.