Wafia is one of Australia’s brightest contemporary RnB artists. Currently on tour with British world-beaters London Grammar, the singer/songwriter appeared at Corner Hotel for a rare headline performance. The excitement surrounding this gig wasn’t spared just for Wafia either, with Sydney’s BUOY and Melbourne’s own Annie Bass opening the night. The two rising electronic acts, who have made limited on-stage appearances themselves, served as tasty entrees to the main meal in Wafia. The three gifted acts combined to form a blissful line-up of electronic-leaning RnB.
Annie has just two songs out in the world, but that hasn’t stopped her from building huge anticipation. Her recently released single ‘Don’t Want’ has almost clocked one million streams on Spotify and it was met with glowing reviews online. When Annie closed out her rapid 25-minute solo set with the Christopher Port-produced single, there was a slight but noticeable reciting of the lyrics from the mesmerised audience – myself included. With a full-band backing Annie, the set would have been improved out of sight. It’s a hugely exciting prospect to see Annie complete headline shows in the future.
Like Annie, BUOY, the project of Charmian Kingston, also performed a solo set. The lack of backing proved somewhat limiting but didn’t hold BUOY back from putting on a terrific performance. There are actually some more similarities connecting Annie and BUOY, as they have both collaborated with Christopher Port on their most recent releases. The result of their partnerships is a considerable resemblance in the UK Garage-influenced dynamic of Annie’s and BUOY’s music.
BUOY surprised the crowd at Corner Hotel when she opened her set with a cover of a certified dance anthem, Rozalla’s ‘Everybody’s Free’. BUOY’s slow burning adjustment of the classic set the tone for her performance, as she dipped into her catalogue of emotionally drenched electronica. Songs such as ‘Don’t Want To See You’ and ‘Exit’ sound great on her two EP’s, Immersion and Break, but as is usually the case in the intimacy of Corner Hotel, they sounded far better. As wonderful as these songs were, ‘Clouds & Rain’ was the instant highlight, with BUOY’s exceptional vocal performance complimented by the stirring synths and percussion reverberating around the band-room.
Following BUOY, the anticipation spiked significantly and not a centimetre was left to spare in the room. It was obvious the place was full of Wafia diehards. As Wafia is a characteristically restrained performer, it was unexpected to come across such a loud crowd. However, it was truly a representation of the quality of Wafia’s set.
Wafia showed off all her versatility throughout her set. There were crowd movers like her most recent single ‘Bodies’, which everyone in the room knew the lyrics to albeit only being released a month ago. There was the stripped-back, stool-bound performance of the melancholic ‘Fading Through’. Of course, there were also downright captivating moments, particularly Wafia’s breakthrough single ‘Heartburn’. It’s difficult to pinpoint a highlight, as Wafia’s entire set was enchanting. The most promising signs were the approval of her new music, as four songs from her forthcoming EP were performed, including the aforementioned ‘Bodies’ and ’83 Days’. The latter also gathered a rousing response from the Corner Hotel audience, and it’s clear that ’83 Days’ is a fan favourite.