King Stingray wear their crown with ease

1 July 2023

Hailed for their live shows, King Stingray bring the material to match. Harvey Rae is swept up in this vivid and exhilarating experience.

King Stingray
Astor Theatre, 29 June 2023

I wish that you could see this/ That I’m lost in the city.

In Get Me Out, Northeast Arnhem Land band King Stingray have an anthem for our times. It’s little wonder this song about a friend getting lost in Melbourne, written in a combination of Yolŋu Matha and English, has come to represent escaping the rat race, getting back to our roots and finding a home in nature.

I know my home is never far away/ Get me out of the city goes the song’s most memorable hook. It’s as if lead vocalist Yirrŋa Yunupiŋu, nephew of late Yothu Yindi frontman Dr Mandawuy Yunupiŋu, is gently saying “you’ve taken us away from our families and our world; you’ve built cities and told me to leave my culture behind; now that I’ve spent some time here, get me the hell back home”.

It’s a powerful message bordering on activism when Yunupiŋu prefaces the song by dedicating it to “western people”. But King Stingray aren’t an in-your-face political band in the fashion of Midnight Oil (although the Oils’ soaring post-punk is likely a musical influence).

From the set’s introduction of yidaki and Yolŋu chants, an adventure unfolds, vivid and positive.

This is a band that can make Coldplay sound ethereal. But they leave their covers of Yellow and Down Under behind in favour of new songs such as Lookin’ Out and most of last year’s self-titled debut album. The cohesive set is all the better for it.

“This is what we need: sharing music, our culture, language,” we’re told ahead of a promising unreleased song called What’s the Hurry? and the powerful, full throttle Raypiri, which kickstarts the set’s run home.

King Stingray take the audience on a dreamtime adventure. Photo: Maclay Heriot

Whether it’s the audience in fine voice on Camp Dog, a disco dance to Milkumana evoking Yothu Yindi to close the main set, or eventual finale Let’s Go showcasing the six Yolŋu and balanda (non-Indigenous) musicians’ voices in full harmony, every post is a winner.

It also makes sense having WA legends Old Mervs in the main support slot, following an opening set from Adelaide’s probably more popular George Alice. Aside from rocking out, these Kojonup kids-done-good look like they’d also get lost in Melbourne.

They’re funny, too. As the banter flies thick, fast and dark between the pair, they plead with us to buy some merch and help pay for their inevitable therapy. We strongly suggest seeing these misfits before one of them spits it and they break up (or more likely disappear overseas and start killing it there).

King Stingray have built a fearsome live reputation the old-fashioned way, with heavy touring, five-star reviews and festival bills frequently hyping them as best on ground. At the long-since sold-out show at Astor Theatre on Thursday they prove they’ve taken the all-important next step that an album allows, with memorable live production and bigger crowds.

Pictured top: King Stingray’s Yirrŋa Yunupiŋu leads a cracking set at the Astor Theatre. Photo: Maclay Heriot

This review was edited 10 July 2023 in response to reader feedback. For more information you can email

Like what you're reading? Support Seesaw.

Author —
Harvey Rae

Harvey is a familiar face in the Perth arts scene, having been a journalist, promoter, events manager, artistic planner, songwriter, radio host, marketer, publicist, label owner and more. Music may be his first love, but you'll regularly find him at anything comedy, theatre or food related. Harvey gravitates towards the swings but sometimes forgets he’s too big for a playground flying fox, too.

Past Articles

  • Extreme confidence in full colour

    In a double act worthy of an arena, Living Colour and Extreme have the crowd on their feet from start to finish. Harvey Rae can’t help but join them. 

  • Who’s who elevate Timmy’s Tommy

    You Am I revisit The Who’s classic Tommy, with two of Australia’s finest rock vocalists. Harvey Rae goes on an amazing journey.

Read Next

  • Just what the doctor ordered

    Just what the doctor ordered

    29 September 2023

    Dr AudiYO uses vocal gymnastics to take the audience on a fun adventure. Junior reviewers Jackson and Chloe Davis are happy to take this prescription. 

    Reading time • 3 minutesTheatre
  • Seadragon weaves magic spell

    Seadragon weaves magic spell

    28 September 2023

    The Magical Weedy Seadragon enchants junior reviewer Isabel Greentree with a winning blend of story, song and humour.   

    Reading time • 4 minutesMulti-arts
  • Lifting the weight of the world

    Lifting the weight of the world

    28 September 2023

    Junior reviewers Jackson and Chloe Davis are taken on a thoughtful and funny journey to the Moon with one overwhelmed girl.

    Reading time • 4 minutesTheatre

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio


Cleaver Street Studio