Live Review & Gallery: Live Nation’s Ones to Watch spotlights Australia’s rising stars, Adrian Dzvuke, Chanel Loren, and Phebe Starr – 06.03.24, Eora/Sydney

Last night’s Ones to Watch event at Oxford Art Factory illuminated the stage with a dazzling showcase of rising talents handpicked by the global entertainment giant Live Nation. With Vodafone backing the initiative, the Ones to Watch program has been a beacon for budding artists, a platform that has previously launched global sensations like Dua Lipa, Olivia Rodrigo, and Halsey into stardom.

The collaboration with various partners and sponsors results in a curated selection of musicians deemed “ones to watch” based on their exceptional talent, growth potential, and other relevant factors. These chosen artists receive invaluable opportunities, including coveted performance slots at Live Nation events, promotional exposure, and various forms of support to propel their careers forward.

The event at Oxford Art Factory unfolded as a diverse and exciting celebration of talent, featuring the promising artists Adrian Dzvuke, Chanel Loren and Phebe Starr. Playing host to the evening was the charismatic Tait McGregor, known as Gen Z’s voice of Australian music media, adding an extra layer of excitement to the already electrifying showcase.

Opening the night as the inaugural performer presents its challenges—the audience is yet to warm up, and a sense of apprehension lingers in the air. However, for West Coast’s Adrian Dzvuke, dubbed the “Afrobeat King of Australia”, these hurdles were mere stepping stones. The esteemed title didn’t just precede him; it defined his ability to command attention and leave an indelible mark.

Dzvuke effortlessly navigated the uncharted territory of being the first act, with the audience gradually surrendering to the magnetic pull of his Afrobeat prowess. It wasn’t just about movement; it was a collective experience, with attendees not only swaying to the rhythm but also harmonising to his latest creations. This response served as a testament to Dzvuke’s irresistibly catchy and universally appealing songwriting, a melody that demands to be heard.

Having shared the stage with luminaries such as Omah Lay, POND, and Spacey Jane, Dzvuke’s trajectory has been nothing short of meteoric. From the prestigious Splendour in the Grass to the influential BIGSOUND, he has consistently showcased his musical talents on grand stages. Undoubtedly, his stage presence and charisma are infectious, transcending from intimate moments with just his guitar to a grand finale that showcased his dance finesse.

Stepping into the spotlight next was the Aria award-winning artist Chanel Loren, a British Caribbean R&B sensation hailing from Eora/Sydney. Her magnetic stage presence was truly captivating as she gracefully traversed the stage, accompanied by her effortlessly cool band. Delving into her extensive discography, she treated the audience to both established hits and a tantalizing new song, a gesture met with enthusiastic reception.

Loren’s musical versatility was on full display, effortlessly transitioning between different textures and styles, seamlessly blending with R&B and soul. Each of her songs stood as a testament to her artistry, uniquely crafted and meticulously executed. Beyond the music, Loren’s engagement with the audience conveyed a welcoming aura, mirroring the majesty evident in her music. Her way with words, both in song and conversation, possesses an uncanny ability to captivate anyone fortunate enough to listen.

For those attuned to the subtleties of her sound, echoes of Jorja Smith and SZA resonated in the air. Throughout the set, the thought of Loren headlining her own stadium show lingered in the mind, a testament to the compelling nature of her performance and style.

Concluding the night was the indie-pop luminary Phebe Starr, whose radiant presence has solidified her reputation within the Australian music scene. Alongside her band, adorned in frilly metallic outfits, Starr orchestrated a set brimming with freshness and innovation. As she introduced new songs from her upcoming album ‘Dirt’, crafted for those “who hate lines [and other mundane atrocities to daily life] and love people“, she effortlessly immersed the audience in her artistry as a skilled multi-instrumentalist and vocalist.

Drawing parallels to acclaimed artists such as Lykke Li and Zara Larsson, Starr’s craftsmanship transcends genres, leaving an indelible mark on the crowd. Her unique ability to seamlessly transform herself into a living art piece, captivating the crowd through both movement and sound, became the centrepiece of the night’s finale.

In the realm of emerging artists, Adrian Dzvuke, Chanel Loren and Phebe Starr stand tall, a testament to the Ones to Watch initiative’s knack for identifying true musical gems.

Image credit: Jess Hutton

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