Arts festivals around the world are increasingly using contemporary music to attract younger audiences, and the Perth International Arts Festival is no different.
The line-up for the Festival Gardens next year includes white-hot Seattle rapper Macklemore and producer Ryan Lewis, as well as several ice-cool indie artists, including volatile chanteuse Cat Power, Canadian indie supergroup Stars, Fleet Foxes drummer turned festival favourite Father John Misty and experimental alt-rock producer How to Dress Well.
Program manager for contemporary culture Sarah Dennehy, who joined PIAF in June after programming major festivals in the UK and Europe, said it was important to broaden the appeal of the event, which hits Perth for 23 nights from February 7.
"It's an arts festival, you don't want to exclude any kind of age group or demographic," she said. "All festivals try to attract a younger demographic because that's always the hardest one to get.
"If an arts festival is just theatre and opera, they might feel excluded from that. I do think that contemporary music is really good at opening the gateway to them."
Macklemore and Cat Power are two of the hottest tickets for 2013. The former is on the tipping point of becoming a superstar; the hilarious paean to second-hand clothing Thrift Shop is racking up views on YouTube (13 million and counting), the campaign for marriage equality has embraced the single Same Love and east coast gigs have already shifted to bigger venues. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis play February 17 at the Garden, located in the Perth Cultural Centre.
Cat Power, real name Chan Marshall, recently unveiled her post-breakup album, Sun, continuing her run of highly acclaimed releases. However, her notoriously unpredictable live appearances should make Marshall's performances on February 26 and 27 a real talking point of the festival.
Discerning audiences of all ages are catered for with a program that kicks off on February 7 with a festival eve party featuring funk legend, Maceo Parker. One of the greatest sidemen of all-time, the saxophonist was an intrinsic member of James Brown's band in the 60s, played with Parliament- Funkadelic in the 70s and has toured under his own name since the 90s. Parker, who last visited WA for the West Coast Blues and Roots festival in 2008, turns 70 a week after his Festival Gardens performance.
The 2013 line-up sees a resurgence in jazz and jazz- influenced acts, including Detroit- born sax man James Carter, New Orleans party band Soul Rebels and a smooth "future soul" double bill featuring US singer Jose James and Melbourne outfit Hiatus Kaiyote. Miss Dennehy said that Melbourne jazztronica act the Raah Project, who will also perform at the Albany Entertainment Centre as part of the Great Southern Festival, had been on her radar before she joined PIAF.
"I'm just amazed that they're not as well known in Australia as they are in Europe," she said. "We've been trying to get these guys over to the UK for years. I'm really excited that, at last, I have them on my program."
The Festival Gardens will also play host to several premieres, including the first ever Australian shows from Canadian post-rock giants Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the harmony drenched collaboration between Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) and Joe Pernice (Pernice Brothers), and Euro-jazz trio Phronesis.
Then there's David Lynch presents Chrysta Bell. The titular Texan belle is the sexy sonic embodiment of the cult director's on screen oeuvre, as if one of his femme fatales had stepped out of Blue Velvet or Twin Peaks and on to the stage. Ten years in the making, Lynch wrote and produced Bell's album, This Train.
And what would a forward- thinking music festival be without a couple of indie folk artists from Sweden, namely the winsome Jens Lekman and the equally winsome Kristian Matsson, aka The Tallest Man on Earth, who plays on a double bill with inventive New York duo, Buke and Gase, on March 1.
Closer to home, You Am I frontman Tim Rogers will perform alongside Melbourne funk ensemble the Bamboos on February 23. The live debut of the rock'n'soul pairing follows Rogers singing on the Bamboos' hit I Got Burned. Indigenous singer- songwriter Archie Roach will perform with a 12-piece band and 10-voice gospel choir, delving into his deeply personal latest album, Into the Bloodstream.
The acclaimed release follows the death of his partner Ruby Hunter in 2010 and his own recent stroke and battle with lung cancer. Many of the musicians and singers for the February 10 performance will be locals. "It's a big production and it will be a lovely show, especially in that setting of the Festival Gardens," Miss Dennehy said.
After unveiling their first album in 16 years, Melbourne duo Dead Can Dance performs at the Perth Concert Hall on February 9. This night the Festival Gardens closes to allow the St Jerome's Laneway Festival to take over the cultural centre. PIAF may announce more shows outside the Garden, but nothing was confirmed as of last night's program launch.
The focus has gone to expanding the offerings within the music venue and festival social hub. There are four double bills on the main stage, plus the Spanish micro-theatre performance Remor, Dutch vintage DJs Radio Barkas and screenings of LCD Soundsystem's documentary Shut Up and Play the Hits in the sprawling bar and food area.
Festival organisers hope to keep the venue buzzing right to the final night featuring Brooklyn-based Afrobeat ensemble Antibalas followed by a DJ set from London's the Herbaliser.
"It's a great venue and we want people to enjoy it and stay there," Miss Dennehy said. "Not just come see the show and then leave."
The Festival Gardens run from February 7 to March 2. Tickets and more details from perthfestival.com.au.