Think for a second about the average music festival. More than likely, the first thing that came to mind was that of summer anthems, long-haired musicians performing on stages in the glaring heat, singing the chorus to a modern rock hit as their fans chant back their own lyrics.

Presumably, visions of an outdoor festival accompanied this thought, as memories of large crowds, excessive lines for food and facilities, and a need for copious amounts of sunscreen also flooded back.

To many, this is exactly what the phrase “Australian music festival” can bring to mind. To most, it’s great musical memories tinged with those shortcomings that we’ve come to expect as standard for a music festival.

But what if these shortcomings didn’t have to exist? What if everything you knew about music festivals was open to reinterpretation? What if one of these events could be delivered in a way that completely subverts all of your previous expectations?

MONA to the rescue

Back in 2013, Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art addressed this very question. As a winter counterpart to their  annual summertime music and art festival Mona Foma, the museum launched Dark Mofo – a music and art festival unlike anything else in the country.

With a lineup so eclectic that it has boasted the likes of Laurie Anderson, Archie Roach, Electric Wizard and Einstürzende Neubauten on the same bill, it’s hard to believe that the musical side of the festival is far from the most normal thing about it.

Sure, any festival with a musical aspect is often remembered for its yearly lineups, but so powerful is the impact and legacy of Dark Mofo that its annual lineup is often considered inconsequential in comparison to what else is on offer in the city with the longest nights in the nation.

After the inaugural Mona Foma launched back in 2009, followed by the opening of the Museum of Old and New Art in 2011, Dark Mofo was launched in 2013, and its arrival spawned legions of devoted followers.

With an understandable focus on the arts, this winter-time festival is a celebration of darkness, so the majority of its events take place after sunset (in Tassie midwinter, that’s around 4.30pm), and continue later into the night – a far cry from the events of average festivals around the world.

Through a romantic notion alone, the festival curates an almost otherworldly personality for itself, presenting itself as an event that is so unique in its delivery that is has to be seen to be believed.

A memorable Dark Mofo

So, what’s on offer at this year’s event? In addition to the countless art displays and public installations, the program features a number of stunning local and international acts, all of which will be performing some very unique sets.

FKA twigs

It’s been a few years between drinks for FKA twigs, but this English artist looks set to return to our lives in a major way. Releasing a couple of singles since her debut record, LP1, in 2014, this critically-acclaimed musician recently returned with ‘Cellophane’, her first song in three years, and the first taster of her next record.

To celebrate, FKA twigs will be performing her first Aussie shows since 2015 when she appears at VIVID Sydney and Dark Mofo, in Hobart’s wharfside MAC2 cruise ship terminal for an evening of immersive music fans won’t soon forget.

FKA twigs
Friday, June 14th
MAC2, Hobart, TAS

Nicolás Jaar: Against All Logic

Early in 2018, renowned producer Nicolás Jaar unleashed his latest album. Titled 2012–2017, the record was released with little fanfare, and credited to A.A.L., which was later revealed to be none other than Jaar himself.

Now, set to return to Australia for the first time in two years, Nicolás Jaar will be bringing Dark Mofo fans the exclusive live debut of Against All Logic, performing these stunning tracks for his Aussie audience, and giving them a taste of his musical alter ego in the flesh, for the first time ever.

Nicolás Jaar: Against All Logic
Saturday, June 15th
MAC2, Hobart, TAS

Jónsi (Sigur Rós) & Alex W/ Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra

Back in 2003, Sigur Rós’ Jónsi teamed up with his partner, Alex Somers, to create a visual art project. Within a few years, the pair decided to expand their sights to the world of music, releasing their debut album, Riceboy Sleeps, in 2009.

Since then, Jónsi & Alex have sporadically performed around the world, enchanting people with their experimental sounds that meld the ethereal with the intriguing.

Now, ten years on from their debut album, the duo are coming together for a rare live show which will see them team up with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra to perform their immersive debut album. To see Jónsi & Alex hit the stage together is something that happens rarely, so be sure not to miss the opportunity to catch this one live!

Jónsi (Sigur Rós) & Alex W/ Tasmanian Symphony 
June 14th – 15th
Federation Concert Hall, Hobart, TAS

Anna Calvi

Five years on from her last visit to our shores, acclaimed English musician Anna Calvi is set to return to Australia, fresh from the release of her third album, Hunter, last year.

Working with big names on the record, such as Martyn Casey of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and Adrian Utley of Portishead, Anna Calvi managed to deliver an album that resonated with fans all over the world, undoubtedly showcasing why her music is so critically acclaimed everywhere she goes.

Anna Calvi
Saturday, June 15th
Odeon Theatre, Hobart, TAS

Costume

Dark Mofo is an opportunity for music lovers, art lovers, and appreciators of the finer things in life to come out and experience new things, the likes of which have never been seen before. In June, this opportunity will arise once again, with Costume hitting up the event to premiere the live performance of their debut album, Pan (out now on pink vinyl and digital)

Described as an electronic, orchestral-infused art pop project from Hobart-based sonic and literary maven Adam Ouston, Costume’s debut album was funded by DarkLab (the team behind Dark Mofo), and recorded in Reykjavik’s iconic Greenhouse Studios, which has played host to huge names like Björk, Sigur Rós, The xx, and Kanye West. Needless to say, this is not one to be missed. A world premiere performance.

Costume
Wednesday, June 12th
Odeon Theatre, Hobart, TAS

Dirty Three

Dirty Three are undoubtedly one of the finest Australian trios in musical history, with the eclectic combination of Warren Ellis, Jim White, and Mick Turner making them renowned around the world for their delicate, crashing, and phenomenal music and live shows.

Following a self-imposed hiatus for a few years, the group is getting back together again for what is sure to be a long-awaited reunion. Following on from a show atVIVID Sydney, the Dirty Three are set to hit up Hobart’s Odeon Theatre for a pair of performances which will explain to fans why they are so beloved by fans the world over.

Dirty Three
Sunday, June 16th
1pm & 6pm Shows
Odeon Theatre, Hobart, TAS

Sharon Van Etten

Despite being something of a frequent flyer on Australian shores, it’s been a few years since we’ve had the chance to see Sharon Van Etten playing live.

Since her last visit, she’s appeared on hit TV shows Twin Peaks: The Return and The O.A., released her new album Remind Me Tomorrow, and has performed critically-acclaimed shows all around the world. Now, Van Etten is set to bring her jagged, dreamy rock and brooding pop to Dark Mofo, hitting up the Odeon Theatre for a long-awaited performance that will undoubtedly be a highlight of the festival.

Sharon Van Etten
Saturday, June 9th
Odeon Theatre, Hobart, TAS

Night Mass

This year’s festival is also set to feature one of Dark Mofo’s most unique and memorable experiences to date, taking over nearly a whole inner-city block – including the Odeon Theatre, DarkLab’s new live music venue Altar and its nightclub High Altar, plus sprawling outdoor areas, beer gardens, and more, with three street frontages, across two weekends.

Organisers have also teamed up with Jägermeister to oversee the addition of two special bars in the nocturnal neighbourhood party Night Mass.

Serving as the festival’s multi-venue late-night event of choice, Night Mass is set to feature these two bars as a way for attendees to experience the refined taste of Jägermeister in some immersive locations, unlike anything they’ve ever seen before.

Curated by Sydney’s festival of radical performance art, sound and visual design Soft Centre, these bars are set to be connected by visual components, but existing to serve two different purposes. The first bar provides large audiences a unique, energetic setting, bringing the communal nature of the festival’s ritualistic fun times to a head, and allowing attendees to enjoy ice cold shots of Jägermeister with their friends.

The first bar provides large audiences a unique, energetic setting for audiences, bringing the communal nature of the festival to a head, and allowing attendees to enjoy ice cold shots of Jägermeister with their friends.

Meanwhile, the second bar will provide a smaller, more intimate experience, reminiscent of the labyrinthine layouts of global nightlife hotspots such as Japan’s iconic Golden Gai, offering a rare chance to enjoy the spirit in a cosy, cultured environment.

Made from 56 selected botanicals, matured in oak, and served ice cold, Jägermeister has quickly become one of the most suited beverages for an event such as this.

Night Mass is also set to feature live performances from the likes of Sampa The Great, Mallrat, Empress Of, and much more.

Taking place across a number of venues on June 14th and 15th, and June 21st and 22nd, Night Mass kicks  off at 10pm, and runs until the early hours of the next morning.

Night Mass is an 18+, ticketed event and tickets quickly sold out – but if you’re old enough to join in the festivities, join the waiting list for tickets on the Dark Mofo website, or try your changes with door sales ($95 per night, subject to capacity), and remember to drink responsibly.

What makes Dark Mofo so special?

These additions, mixed with the stunning live performances on offer, turns Dark Mofo into a festival that manages to reconfigure the boundaries of live music and art, to create an experience like no other.

It’s the level of mythos and esoterica that is put into each and every decision that helps to turn the live performances of the festival into something you’ll remember forever.

In fact, a cursory look at the festival lineup will likely provide you with a list of names that might seem unfamiliar to an average music fan. It’s the curiosity inspired by these new names that helps to provide an experience for attendees.

While festivals like Splendour In The Grass or Laneway might be topped by the triple j favourites of today, Dark Mofo provides an eclectic lineup, curated to help deliver a musical message, bolstered by the idea of new discoveries that will take place throughout the festival period.

With performances held predominantly at night, these mostly-exclusive shows not only provide a sense of intimacy and uniqueness but also instil a feeling of necessity as well. Sure, you might not have heard of the band performing on Thursday night, but when are you going to get the chance to see them ever again?

For an average music fan, heading to a music festival and ticking your favourites off the bill is something that has been done to death. Plus, if you didn’t happen to see your new favourite indie band in the evening timeslot, you can always catch their Sydney sideshow the next night.

Dark Mofo doesn’t play by the rules. Perhaps it just plays to different rules. Dark Mofo isn’t here to provide a sense of security in your music-loving mind. It’s here to inspire you to live in the moment, embrace the unfamiliar, and see where the journey takes you.

It exists to allow you to witness live bands performing exclusive performances in unique locations, in the dead of night, surrounded by immersive and mesmerising art installations.

It provides something that will never again occur, and something you can never find anywhere else – a festival celebrating the Tasmanian winter, in all its darkness, licking flames, and the way it can shake you to the core of your being.

Dark Mofo is a festival that turns an event from a lineup that’s got to be seen, into an event that needs to be experienced.

Dark Mofo 2019

Fka Twigs
Friday, June 14
Mac2, Hobart
$99+bf

Against All Logic / Nicolás Jaar
Saturday, June 15
Mac2, Hobart
$99+bf

Nicolás Jaar & Group
Sunday, June 16
Federation Concert Hall
$59-$79+bf

Costume*
Wednesday, June 12
Odeon Theatre, Hobart
$49+bf

Serpentwithfeet & Kelsey Lu
Thursday, June 13
Odeon Theatre, Hobart
$69+bf

Jónsi (Sigur Rós) & Alex W/ Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra
June 14 – 15
Federation Concert Hall, Hobart
$69-$99+bf

Anna Calvi
Saturday, June 15
Odeon Theatre, Hobart
$79+bf

Lonnie Holley
Wednesday, June 12
Altar, 112 Murray St, Hobart
$39+bf

John Grant
Thursday, June 20
Odeon Theatre, Hobart
$79+bf

Dirty Three
Sunday, June 16
1pm & 6pm Shows
Odeon Theatre, Hobart
$89+bf

Liminal Soundbath (Members Of Sigur Ros)
Sunday, June 16
Mac2, Hobart
$59+bf

Roger Eno
Sunday, June 23
Hobart Town Hall
$29-$49+bf

Sharon Van Etten
Saturday, June 9
Odeon Theatre, Hobart
$39-$79+bf

Phurpa
Thursday, June 13
Altar, 112 Murray St, Hobart
$39+bf

Night Mass
Feat. Mallrat, Sampha The Great, Empress Of, Ic3peak, Junglepussy & More
14 – 15 June & 21 – 22 June
Night Mass Neighbourhood
10pm – Late
$89+bf

Hymns To The Dead
Feat. Mystifier, Dragged Into Sunlight, Funebrarum, Zhrine & Heresiarch
Wednesday, June 19
Odeon Theatre, Hobart
$89+bf

Lucrecia Dalt: The Golem
Wednesday, June 19
Hobart Town Hall, Hobart
$29+bf

Author & Punisher
19 – 20 June
Altar, 112 Murray St, Hobart
$39+bf

Laterne By Berlin Atonal
Mac2, Hobart
Thursday, June 20
Feat. Aïsha Devi Ft. Mfo Present, Labour Next Time Die Consciously, Lucrecia Dalt Presents: Synclines, Vatican Shadow Presents: Media In The Service Of Terror & Puce Mary

Friday, June 21
Feat. Lee Gamble Presents: In A Paraventral Scale, Silvia Kastel, Marshstepper Presents: The Sloe Seeding Of Eden: A Starlit Enfold, Second Woman & Uf (Kerridge & Oake)
$89+bf

Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld
Thursday, June 20
Odeon Theatre, Hobart
$79+bf

Augie March
Saturday, June 22
Odeon Theatre, Hobart
$59+bf

Borderlands
Feat. The Sheer Frost Orchestra, Joe Talia & Eiko Ishibashi, Rafael Anton Irisarri, Lucy Railton, Kusum Normoyle & Stephen O’malley [sunn O)))]
Saturday, June 22
Mac2, Hobart
$89+bf

My Heart Swims In Blood: Van Diemen’s Band
Saturday, June 22
Hobart Town Hall, Hobart
$39-$59+bf

Kiku Featuring Blixa Bargeld & Black Cracker
Sunday, June 23
Odeon Theatre, Hobart
$39-$79+bf

Mary Lattimore & Julianna Barwick
Sunday, June 23
Altar, 112 Murray St, Hobart
$29+bf

Tickets available through the Dark Mofo website