Australian acts including DMA’s and Sheppard played the AFL Grand Final yesterday, October 24th, but viewers were left with a mixed reaction.

The 2020 AFL Grand Final was a historic one. The first to be played outside of Victoria. The first to be staged away from the MCG since 1991. The first to be held at night.

It needed entertainment to match the occasion then. Richmond’s Dustin Martin clearly done his part on the pitch. It was left to local acts to put on a show off it.

It was an all-Aussie lineup for the night, COVID-19 travel restrictions meaning we were bereft of a hilarious Meatloaf-esque performance or a superstar like Ed Sheeran this time.

DMA’s, Sheppard, Cub Sport, Wolfmother’s Andrew Stockdale, Electric Fields, Thelma Plum, Busby Marou, and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra all featured under the Gabba lights.

There were varying receptions to the performances however.

From the off, the AFL’s commitment to diversity was evident, with Indigenous artists Thelma Plum, Zaachariaha Fielding (of Electric Fields) and Jeremy Marou (half of the Busby Marou duo) joining forces on a cover of Paul Kelly’s ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’.

Mike Brady sung ‘Up There Cazaly’ at an empty MCG which received a reliably welcome response although some were left saddened by the sight of an empty MCG.

Local outfit Cub Sport covered Brisbane legends Powderfinger’s ‘These Days’. DMA’s dropped their cover of Cher’s ‘Believe’, which they did for Like A Version in 2016, before singing one of their own slower songs, ‘Criminals’.

Wolfmother’s Stockdale played ‘Joker and the Thief’ but for the most part, the music just didn’t get people hyped for the night. It was all too downtempo, not tub-thumping enough.

Another Brisbane band, indie-pop trio Sheppard, were handed the halftime slot. Backed by a spectacular light and firework show, their performance was met with more enthusiastic online approval.

Bringing a genuine sense of spectacle to proceedings, they had time for two songs: ‘Coming Home’, introduced by frontman George as “a song about Brisbane, for Brisbane”, and their 2014 hit ‘Geronimo’.

Their anthemic pop with singalong hooks brought a warm response from casual viewers. For a country so starved of live music this year, however, anything would have sufficed right now.

Check out ‘Up There Cazaly’ at the 2020 Grand Final: