Watching a band play at a live music venue is great. But what about seeing a show at a skate park, old church, farm or museum instead? If there’s one thing that Umbrella Festival does well, it’s filling every corner of Adelaide with sounds from local artists – including spots that might be unconventional.

After a hiatus in 2020 (you know why), the winter open-access festival is back for its fifth instalment. And it begins this Friday. "We can’t wait for audiences to experience 24 days packed full of diverse and exciting music,” says Music SA General Manager Kim Roberts. “It’s genuinely difficult to pick a highlight this year.” Broadsheet scoured the lengthy program – there’s more than 1,000 local artists involved – and bring you our top picks.

Opening Night Party
Featuring a big stage in the parklands with bars, food, market stalls and warm spaces; Umbrella’s Opening Night Party is a collaboration with Illuminate Adelaide, and they’re promising a big night. Hosted by multi-disciplinary collective The Bait Fridge, the all-local line-up includes Marlon x Rulla, Ricky Albeck & the Belair Line Band, Tara Coates & Sub Rosa, and Runebilly Rattle.

July 17, 5pm at Rymill Park. Free entry.

Hell on Earth - Winter Dance
If the name ‘Hell on Earth’ didn’t give it away, this dance party at urban winery Oddio – presented by Endless Grooves – aims to take you deep into the musical underground. Expect to hear new wave, Italo disco, house and techno selected by DJs Danvers, Fantastic Black Plastic, Jura Soundsystem, Lukky K and more, backed by Delinquente and Frederick Stevenson wines and wood-fired pizzas from Sunny’s.

August 6 and 7, 5pm at 31 Drayton Street, Torrensville. $20.

Fake Record Shop
If you’ve ever dreamed up designs for album covers or artist merchandise, this event is for you. Curated by Annelise Forster, Nicholas Hanisch and Timothea Moylan, this Fake Record Shop will display merchandise and album covers – for imaginary bands – created by a group of Adelaide-based visual artists. There’ll even be a performance from a “fake band”, too (hint: The Empty Threats, Placement and pianist Gabriella Smart may be involved).

August 4, 5.30pm at Urban Cow Studio & Gallery. Free entry.

Half Strange Festival
A festival within the festival, Half Strange is back. Spread across two days and three venues (Arthur Art Bar, Electric Ant Records and My Lover Cindi), this fifth iteration of Half Strange will bring some of the country’s best underground female and non-binary performers to Adelaide for an opening party, basement party and closing party. You'll hear from Quartz Pistol, Jess Johns Band, Fair Maiden, Lonelyspeck and more.

August 6 and 7, various locations. $15-25 ($50 for all three events).

Slowmango x The Bait Fridge Variety Show
It’s tricky to describe Slowmango and The Bait Fridge’s artistic practices without visual support (think lots and lots of colour), but you can trust that they’re always unique. The collaborators have teamed up once again for improvised explorations in music and performance, including compositions to accompany expressive performances and “live-green screen” video works. If you want more, they’ll also be parading through the city, too.

July 30, 6.30pm at The Mill. $22-25.

Noise//Nature Remixed & Remastered
Nature is beautiful, but it’s cold outside. Noise//Nature might be just what you need: it’s a sensory experience that brings together vivid light projections and a synchronised soundtrack of music that has been remixed with garden sound recordings. Selling out twice at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens last year, the ambient audio-visual experience has been remixed and remastered to make the most of The Lab’s high-definition screens and speakers.

July 30 and 31, various times, at The Lab. $15-20.

Naomi Keyte
Part of The Mill’s Breakout Sessions (in which musicians invite you to observe their creative process), this intimate performance from Naomi Keyte and her band will see her unpack her songwriting, arranging and collaboration processes used to bring songs to life. She’ll play songs from her debut EP Edge of Morning, debut album Melaleuca and new, unreleased songs from her forthcoming album.

July 29, 6.30pm at The Mill. $22-25.

Closing Night
What better way to mark the end of a month of gigs, exhibitions and performances than with a huge, free party at the Port? This year’s festival will wrap up with a celebration at Pirate Life in Port Adelaide. Hosted by Jack Buckskin, you’ll hear from Shaolin Afronauts, Bermuda Bay, Zac Eichner, The Tervete Collective, Endless Grooves DJs, Stormhorse and many more at the family-friendly event.

August 8, 2pm at Pirate Life Brewing. Free entry.

Umbrella Festival runs from July 16 to August 8 throughout Adelaide. The full program is available online.