Canberra's SAFIA Launch First Headline Tour with a Bang

On Saturday night, SAFIA launched their new single, ‘Paranoia, Ghosts and Other Sounds’ at a sold-out gig at Transit Bar.

Local producer Ventures opened the night, followed by Wallflower, a band with an interesting sound (imagine a mix of Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’ and Bon Iver’s self titled album). Despite a thin catalogue of material, they managed to spice things up by throwing in a cover of ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’, as well as interpolating the chorus of SAFIA’s ‘Listen To Soul, Listen To Blues’ into one of their own tracks.

SAFIA got straight down to business, opening their set with ‘Paranoia…’. The groove and energy of this track set the tone for the rest of the night. For the next 60 minutes, they showcased their ever-improving songwriting abilities and growing stage presence. With a set list that ranges from the reggae vibe of the new single to dancier tracks and even slower numbers with Shlohmo inspired beats, Safia showed why they are considered to be one of Australia’s most exciting young acts.

While the most well received songs were the singles, the highlight of the night was the quality of their unreleased material. The second song drew inspiration from acts like Rufus and AlunaGeorge, both artists the boys have played with recently. Other new material included a song with a refrain along the lines of ‘You Are The One’ that will surely gain a lot of support once released. The same goes for the thumping ‘I Just Wanna Be Lonely’ whose beat seemed inspired by Disclosure’s hit, ‘Latch’.

SAFIA have toured relentlessly over the past 12 months and this experience has certainly had a positive impact on their live show. While gaining exposure by supporting acts like Elizabeth Rose, Disclosure, Rufus and Rudimental, their stage presence, Ben’s in particular, has developed significantly. They were comfortable with slower tracks, and also looked right at home standing on their equipment, pumping up the crowd, during the outro of their 2013 hit, ‘Listen To Soul, Listen To Blues’. Touring with these artists has influenced their sound and also their fashion sense, with Vocalist Ben Woolner rocking a Kite String Tangle tee.

SAFIA’s launch of ‘Paranoia, Ghosts and Other Sounds’ was highly entertaining and with upcoming support dates with Lorde, and a collaboration with fellow Canberrans, Peking Duk, their popularity will continue to grow. They are definitely a band to keep an eye on.

Check them out at Soundcloud and ‘like’ them on Facebook.

Photo: Michael Bell, Ben Woolner & Harry Sayers of SAFIA chat to Woroni backstage during the ANU O-Week 2013 Friday Night Concert – Taken by Ross Caldwell for Woroni