Last weekend was the opening of Adelaide Festival and of the new Riverbank Palais. Floating just in front of the Elder Park Rotunda, the Palais is a striking two-storey ballroom on the River Torrens illuminated like a magic castle in softly shifting pinks and oranges. At 8pm crowds drizzled down to line up at the entry. The doorway is bordered with rows of bright show lights and from the rooftop bar people leaned over the balcony to watch the line growing. When I finally lifted myself off the grass I bumped into so many friends to talk to I seemed to be spinning in circles to catch-up with them.
It all seemed only fitting. The Riverbank Palais is a tribute to the Floating Palais de Danse, one of the most popular social spots in Adelaide during the 1920s, before its demise in 1928. The reimagined venue was fittingly opened on Thursday to jazz performed by Andrew Nolte and His Orchestra.
Walking in, past the downstairs bar and behind a central stairwell, I was met with a black and white tiled dancefloor and a shining disco ball hanging high above. The stage was open to stunning views of the night sky and river and a cool breeze came in off of the water. The audience settled in without delay and I picked my spot up on the overlooking balcony that lined the walls, watching the people below crowding to the front and out of the bright lights to see the one of the many star acts of the Adelaide Festival begin.
Toro y Moi was cool, calm, and collected. There were no support bands and no encores, just a clean set. It was strangely relaxing. There was no impatient anticipation; doors opened at 8:15pm and at 8:30pm the band began to play—no introduction needed. In case you were not one of the many vying for a spare ticket to the sold out show, Toro y Moi is the stage name of Chazwick Bundick. He is an American producer and musician from South Carolina. The great achievement of his music is its changing influences; he is not content to create work in a single style, making him easy to recommend to everyone. His music is the kind to be listened to late at night through large headphones, dancing in your computer chair while you pretend to concentrate on an assignment. The tunes are soft and consistent, but with enough twisting turns and sharp beats to keep you focused.
On stage, under the pink and blue lights and behind the smoke, his band took the smooth tracks and lifted them to new heights. The R&B and rock influences became more pronounced and I watched the audience chat happily to each other at the back and dance with their arms in the air at the front. It was difficult not to stare out at the water or at the crowd below and smile. The Riverbank Palais is reflective of the decadence and elegance of its predecessor.
It was both enchanting and exciting, with all the wonder of a large venue and the intimacy of a small one. It seems Adelaide will once again be dancing and socialising in style and Toro y Moi was the perfect way to usher in the new era.