Umbrella: Winter City Sounds is back for its second year with an impressive program of live and local music in the city next month. From intimate acoustic sets to sensorial noise parties, Music SA will deliver more than 300 events in more than 100 venues over two weeks. They’ll take place in Rundle Mall, on public transport, in car parks, in an abandoned hospital ward and at some of our favourite pubs.

While the front end of the festival is a curated program of familiar names, a large part of it remains open access, providing a platform for emerging artists. Lisa Bishop, general manager of Music SA, says it’s a great way to keep live music accessible and support the next generation of Adelaide musicians. “We haven’t put any constraints on the artists in terms of genre, setting, anything,” Bishop says. “We’ve basically said, ‘Here’s the money, go shape your act however you like!’”

The number of curated events has increased from 15 to 25 since Umbrella’s debut in 2016, but making the selections is not a “shopping trolley” exercise, Bishop says.

“We want to focus on and acknowledge the talent we have here, not just grab any big name we can get. Adelaide has always had a rich tradition of live music and venues that have stood the test of time – The Grace Emily, The Exeter and The Gov have all seen multiple generations of music-goers through their doors.

“We want to get people off the couches, away from the Netflix and into these venues. We like to think Umbrella will do that, especially since there will be a lot of open fires and mulled wine to go around.” Umbrella won’t just be confined to the pub, though. There will be a public lounge room outside Fresh 92.7; a concert of local original music at the Victoria Square Fountains; and spontaneous, acoustic concerts aboard Adelaide trams.

We asked Bishop for her top-five picks.

Dark Matter
Set in the abandoned Z Ward (once home to people who were labeled "criminally insane") at Glenside Hospital, Dark Matter will plunge visitors into a world of doom and gloom. Performance artist Kusum Normoyle and ambient artist Isomer will headline a night of spine-chilling dark art and music. “This is going to be sensory overload of the best kind,” says Bishop.
Friday July 21, 6pm

Shaolin Afronauts present Quest Under Capricorn Live
Adelaide’s 18-person afrobeat ensemble Shaolin Afronauts will perform its latest album, Quest under Capricorn, at the Gov. Expect a healthy dose of improv, West African beats, avant-garde jazz and funk. “I’m in love with afrobeat,” says Bishop, “and an 18-piece ensemble of the best players in Adelaide is going to do this genre justice in a spectacular way.”
Thursday July 27, 7.30pm

Sights, Sounds and Soirees
More than 20 music videos produced by third-year Flinders University students will hit the big screen at Producers Bar for Sights, Sounds and Soirees. The featured bands – including indie-pop outfit Something To Rescue – will play live against a backdrop of video clips. “Chill out with your throw rugs and watch some of the best music clips made in Adelaide in the last year.”
Monday July 17, 6pm

Scouted
A festival within a festival, Scouted will spread across five stages in the East End as it puts the spotlight on 15 unsigned SA artists. Acts include WOMADelaide favourites Electric Fields, brit-punks Young Offenders and troubadour Tom West. Good Friends, Mane, Battlehounds and Alana Jagt and The Monotremes are also on the bill. The event coincides with the Australian Independent Record Labels (AIR) Awards, and will give some of Adelaide’s best the chance to shine on stage in front of music-industry leaders.
Friday July 28, 5pm

Southern Twang
The Ed Castle Hotel will become the capital of SA’s country music scene when Southern Twang comes to town. The free concert will feature a huge line-up of alt-country, folk, rock and Americana from Max Savage & the False Idols; Häna Brenecki and Mark Curtis; The Best Extras; The Bitter Darlings; The Heggarties; Alana Jagt; and David Blumberg. There’ll also be a “Mid Western” barbeque to fuel revelers through the evening.
Saturday July 15, 4pm

Umbrella: Winter City Sounds is on July 14 to 30 in venues across Adelaide. See the program for more information and to purchase tickets.