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“Significant Moment”: Alex Lahey Gears Up for Big Debut at Ability Fest

Rolling Stone AU/NZ spoke with Alex Lahey ahead of her performance at Ability Fest during which she shared some exciting news

Alex Lahey

Credit: Alex Lahey Instagram

Alex Lahey is saving the first performance of her hit new single ‘Good Time’ for a special cause: Ability Fest.

Ability Fest is a “kick-ass festival” that focuses on both inclusion and accessibility, and has secured a very impressive lineup of some of Australia’s most popular musicians. The festival will feature performances from the likes of Hilltop Hoods, Sampa the Great, Meg Mac and, of course, Lahey.

Rolling Stone AU/NZ spoke with Lahey ahead of her appearance at Ability Fest and she revealed that she’s saving the first live performance of “Good Time” for the event.

The singer-songwriter stressed that Ability Fest was particularly significant for her as an artist as it will be the last time in a while that she’ll be playing her new music, along with her older tracks.

Ability Fest is organised in partnership with Untitled Group and 2022 Australian of the Year and Paralympic gold medalist Dylan Alcott. It will take place at Birrarung Marr on Saturday, March 25th.

“I’m so proud to see the path Ability Fest has already paved for inclusive events across the country. First and foremost, our main priority is to create a kick-ass festival that happens to be accessible. And that’s something I think we’ve achieved since launching in 2018,” Alcott said.

The festival donates 100% of proceeds towards helping young Australians currently living with a physical or non-physical disability via the Dylan Alcott Foundation. Many of the suppliers and musicians donate their time to this exciting event making it an incredible festival experience with a community-endorsed purpose.

Check out our chat with Alex Lahey who discusses what fans can expect from her at Ability Fest.

Rolling Stone AU/NZ: How did you get involved with Ability Fest?

Alex Lahey: I’ve always been a really big fan of Dylan Olcott as a person and an athlete and an advocate. Yeah. And, Ability Fest is a really remarkable event. I’ve been lucky to know Dylan for a while and I’m super stoked that he invited me to be part of the festival this year.

Why is Ability Fest important to you personally?

It’s really important to me because I am such an enormous believer in inclusivity and safe spaces for all. I think that Ability Fest is so remarkable because it provides every single person with the opportunity to attend what is such, traditionally, a rite of passage for music lovers everywhere, which is to go to a music festival and it doesn’t matter if you have a disability or a condition, which means that those places don’t feel as accessible or particularly comfortable for you.

I think Ability Fest provides the opportunity for people to access these events and rites of passages and experiences in a way that supports them and, gives them the opportunity to just be around music and around each other and, and do it in a way that’s really safe and inclusive and positive.

If you were just attending Ability Fest and you weren’t performing, which artist would you be the most excited to see? 

I always love seeing Meg Mac. Meg’s a legend and such a great artist, and I haven’t seen her play a new record live yet which I’m really excited to see. I also love shouts as well, such a party!

Do you think you’ll get the chance to catch other artists while you’re performing and are you planning to?

Yeah, absolutely. I’m from Melbourne, so like, it’s not like I have to fly in and out for the show which is a real luxury for me. So I get to hang out all day, which I’m really excited about.

When it comes to performing at a festival, how much planning goes into your set and your show?

A lot of planning. Festival shows are so unique and it’s always a real opportunity to give a one-off sort of version of what you do. It’s also a really good opportunity to debut new stuff as well. We’re gonna be playing my new single ‘Good Time’ live for the first time at Ability First, which I’m super excited about.

What music festivals give artists the opportunity to do is to basically play to people who may not know the music or know who you are or have been to one of your shows before.

So you get this fun opportunity to almost prove yourself a little bit, which is really cool. And, and it’s not something that comes around all that often and it’s such a privilege to be able to play to people who might be unfamiliar with what you do, so it’s super exciting.

Who would be a dream inclusion for you for Ability Fest that isn’t already on this lineup?

That’s a good question. I know that Alex the Astronaut is such an enormous advocate for Ability Fest and has been involved with it a lot.

I would love to see Alex play at Ability Fest just by virtue of the amount of history between Alex and the event and also like what she advocates for and represents and how that ties into the event as well. I think that’d be really cool.

What else can attendees expect from your show at the festival?

Well, it’s kind of like this show in my calendar is a cross shade, so to speak, of chapters. I’m going overseas very soon after Ability Fest, and starting to tour the new record. So not only be the first time that we get to play some new music, but it will probably be the last time, or the last time in a while, that we will actually play some other songs as well. So, it’s actually quite a significant moment in my calendar.

Is there anything in your actual show that’s different from how you perform at other festivals?

I’ll be making sure that I prep the Auslan interpreter beforehand, which is not always a given at live music events. It’s becoming more and more common, which is great. And can I also say that they do it so soon before the show? They learn this stuff so fast. It’s crazy. They’re so good at their jobs, it’s unbelievable. I don’t even know the words for the songs. They’re all over it!

We don’t really put on a particularly like Stroby show and that sort of thing but in terms of lighting, we like to make sure that we’re really inclusive with the show looks. So it’s not creating any risk for anyone in the crowd.

Lastly, what song of yours do you think like the most underrated?

I always joke that with every record there’s a dark horse and the dark horse will always emerge, it will always have its moment. And, I reckon the Dark Horse on the most recent record I put out is a song called “Misery Guts” which was never a single. I was always a bit bummed that it was never a single. I was just always saying, “Misery Guts is a dark horse. Something will happen with Misery Guts.”

And then, lo and behold, we got asked if it could go on the Tony Hawk Pro Skater soundtrack and I was like, “there it is, that’s the dark horse moment.”

I’ve got a little bit of an idea with the next record of what the dark horse is.

Ability Fest 2023

Tickets via Ability Fest

Saturday, March 25th
Birrarung Marr, Melbourne VIC

Notes: This is an 18+ event

Full lineup:

Alex Lahey
Boy Broods
Dj Cooper Smith
Dz Deathrays
Hilltop Hoods
Latifa Tee
Mashd N Kutcher
Meg Mac
Sampa the Great