Music concerts to attend in Sydney in May

This month brings to town local coconuts, the country’s biggest young global star and the return of Vivid Live. Here’s who to see and when.

Rufino and coconuts

May 5, HiWay Bikini

He has seen it all, this suave enigma Rufino. The self-proclaimed “Catalan Casanova” occasionally plays violin and croons with the entertaining cabaret troupe Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen.

More often lately, Rufino has been brewing his own entertaining tropical pop potion in the swamps of a distant jungle, if his fruity and coconut-like outfit and general vibe is anything to go by – but they’ll eventually somehow to Enmore in May for this evening of deep rhythm and fun performance.

Sydney collective Rufino and the Coconuts are preparing a tasty tropical pop potion.Credit:Geoffrey Dunn

That said, though, if he shaved off (wiped off) the (literal) racy pencil mustache he sports, Rufino would look a lot like Pip Branson, the multi-talented musician, actor, and history teacher who once played guitar. . for 90s indie rockers Sidewinder and later for Something For Kate in the early 2000s as a touring member.

But that’s probably just a coincidence.

lazy eyes

May 7, Oxford Art Factory

It’s all happening for up-and-coming Sydney psych-rockers The Lazy Eyes.

Sydney indie psychedelic rockers The Lazy Eyes have just released their mind-blowing yet wonderful debut album, SongBook.

Sydney indie psychedelic rockers The Lazy Eyes have just released their mind-blowing yet wonderful debut album, SongBook.Credit:Jack Moran

First, they blew us away with their own Lazyfest mini-festival in that surreal time between the first COVID variants in March of last year. (Bonus gig alert! May-a, their talented indie colleague who opened this edition of Lazyfest, will also be playing Oxford Art Factory on May 19 and 20.)

More recently, The Lazy Eyes released their debut album, Songbookand marked one of the coveted supporting slots for Splendor headliners The Strokes at the American Rock Heroes sideshows in July.

Songbook well worth your investigation: it’s a grueling but wonderful journey reminiscent of the early days of Tame Impala (think of the unexpected tempo changes on the Perth act’s 2008 self-titled EP) and famed King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard from Melbourne at their best turns pretty and crisp.

Lots of fun research for you there, if I mentioned any music you don’t know. (You’re welcome.)

Kid Laroi

May 26-27, Qudos Bank Arena

The rise in recent years of 18-year-old Charlton Howard, the Indigenous Australian-born rapper-singer better known as Kid Laroi, has been extraordinary to say the least.

The talent of Australian artist The Kid Laroi shone even without the help of famous friends Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus.

The talent of Australian artist The Kid Laroi shone even without the help of famous friends Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus.Credit:AP/Chris Pizzello

He struck up some terrific relationships, of course — the early sponsorship of the late Juice WRLD steered his career in the right direction and his collaboration with a reborn Justin Bieber, as Laroi did on the ubiquitous To staywas obvious.

But Laroi’s talent shone without either on sound tubes F—Love (wild) mixtape like So it’s done and Without you — even before Miley Cyrus signed a version of the latter that benefited her credibility more than her own.

And all this before he even released his debut album proper – children grow up is planned for this year.

Possibly Australia's greatest living <a class=songwriter, Paul Kelly.” loading=”lazy” data-src=”$zoom_0.099%2C$multiply_0.4431%2C$ratio_1.5%2C$width_756%2C$x_0%2C$y_0/t_crop_custom/q_86%2Cf_auto/b37fef2d9cd2f942ce080941e54e17da99f508f3″ height=”224″ width=”335″ data-srcset=”$zoom_0.099%2C$multiply_0.4431%2C$ratio_1.5%2C$width_756%2C$x_0%2C$y_0/t_crop_custom/q_86%2Cf_auto/b37fef2d9cd2f942ce080941e54e17da99f508f3,$zoom_0.099%2C$multiply_0.8862%2C$ratio_1.5%2C$width_756%2C$x_0%2C$y_0/t_crop_custom/q_62%2Cf_auto/b37fef2d9cd2f942ce080941e54e17da99f508f3 2x”/>

Possibly Australia’s greatest living songwriter, Paul Kelly.Credit:Michael Hili

Paul Kelly with Thelma Plum

27-29, 31 May, promenade north of the Opera

Finally, Vivid Live – the musical part of the festival’s celebration of “Light, Music and Ideas” – is back. And while it may not have the shiny international draw cards of years past, it will certainly open strong with four separate events on May 27.

The biggest on opening night (and for three of the next four nights) is titled Time and Tide: four decades of songs. It brings together perhaps the country’s greatest living singer-songwriter – indeed Paul Kelly has been nearly unrivaled in terms of consistency for almost 50 years – and one of Australia’s most brilliant Indigenous artists these recent times at Thelma Plum, including ARIA- and AMP-nominated debut album of 2019, Better in Blakvindicated the faith we had in her eight years ago.

Kelly’s backing band is nothing to sniff at either, including various impressive Aussie music veterans including sister duo Vika and Linda Bull, and Kelly’s nephew Dan.

Sampa The Great will bring his irresistible creativity to Vivid Live.

Sampa The Great will bring his irresistible creativity to Vivid Live.Credit:Travy Owen

Sampa the Great

May 27-28, Joan Sutherland Theater, Opera

The other key opening night show of this year’s Vivid Live features the breathtaking two-time AMP winner Sampa The Great, whose performance at the ARIA Awards in Final formbeamed from her hometown in Zambia in 2020, was among the strongest I’ve seen – before the music even kicked in properly, the dancers started moving and Sampa herself started rapping over sampled brass , pounding rhythms and screaming guitars, taking the performance to the transcendent.


It was barely four minutes. This show for Vivid Live, entirely titled Sampa The Great presents An Afro Futurewill bring a full hour and a half of its irresistible creativity, featuring guest contributions from three relatively strong female artists in R&B singers Mwanje and Kye, and DJ extraordinaire C. Frim.

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