A few weeks back, when I heard that Gurrumul was coming to Los Angeles to perform at the El Rey Theatre, I knew I had to check out the show. Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu was born blind in a remote region of Northern Australia. From Elcho Island, he grew up as a member of the Gumatj clan. He sings with a mix of English and his native language that is now used by about 10,000 people with a unique Australian identity. Although I couldn’t understand most of the lyrics, they were all still touching my soul.
Gurrumul’s concert was the perfect midweek jump to lift your spirits and experience something totally sublime. To my surprise, the audience was beyond slim. Gurrumul’s tour was encouraged by the legendary producer, musician and legend Quincy Jones— and from what I heard it has been very well received. However, in Los Angeles, there were rumors of cancelation due to the low amount of ticket sales. Needless to say, the show went on and little by little fans came trickling in.
Accompanied by an extremely charming band of three, Gurrumul and his musicians engaged the crowd in a sing-along through animal sounds such as the breath of a crocodile which sounded like a breathy “whaaaaaah”. In addition to the jungle-like experience we were witnessing, Gurrumul performed some unreleased and very raw songs about crows, clouds, and animals. Before we knew it, myself and the entire theater were totally immersed in an organic music experience. Judging by all the animal-like sounds we were making, I think our spirit animals surfaced. It was truly an extraordinary live music experience unlike any other.
Words & Photography: Farah Sosa