Hinterland’s first night closes, Tash Sultana a smashing standout

With Hinterland’s first night complete, the bar is set very high for the Aug. 4 shows.



Naomi Hofferber, Arts Editor

ST. CHARLES, Iowa ​— The night of Aug. 4 is going to have to work hard to outshine the absolute talent that graced the stage here on Aug. 3.

The day started off with the sun high as dirty shoes scuffled into the carved-out valley that is Hinterland. Thumping drums and futuristic sounds by opener Ancient Posse greeted festival antendees as they piled in front of the single massive stage.

The evening went on to feature a performance by CHVRCHES, which, after a slow start, came absolutely alive in its performance of “Miracle.” The evening also featured a stunning set from Band of Horses, which, while it is not five horses on a stage, was a lively, fun band with a set that just kept coming.

However, on Aug. 3, one act shone above all others. Australian Tash Sultana brought a magic to the stage that even being the second act of the night awoke the audience and felt unique in its energy.

She started on stage, a tiny shrine equipped with salt lamps, lucky cats, and neon lights behind her. She played something, a heavy beat or a guitar riff, then kicked a loop pedal with her bare feet, layering and layering her sounds into one lush rhythm, adding new things as the song slowly developed. Whenever the people wanted more, Sultana gave it to them.

As she dropped to her knees, wailing on the guitar, head tilted back with the passion of it all, the crowd screamed in response, the energy in the air electric. She worked like a mad scientist, placing ingredients bit by bit into her sound. Synth? Sure. Mandolin? Why not?

Trumpet? Absolutely.

It was a performance that felt both casual and intimate, like your coolest friend playing for fun in her bedroom and like watching a talented artist honing her craft before your very eyes. Sultana was a one-person show that created the sounds and energy of a full band.

The absolute icing on the cake? Sultana grabbed a Pan flute, layering the sound of it into her song, and then began to use the pipes as a beatbox. No words can quite encapsulate the resulting sound.

While Ancient Posse, CHVRCHES, and Band of Horses gave incredible shows that produced dancing, screaming, laughing, and tears, Sultana stood out as an ultimate powerhouse.