Music is alive and thriving on ANU campus. At least that’s what local record label Warm Water is out to prove with a string of live music events throughout ANU O-Week.
It’s a simple enough prospect: show off the musical talent that’s popping up all over campus. But the idea comes within the context of a music landscape in need following a string of venue closures.
“It’s kind of a weird position to be in,” William Bianchini, founder of Warm Water, said.
“I’m a student at ANU and I see so much insane talent coming through all the time. There’s been a bit of an ANU-sized hole in my heart that’s kind of desperate to be filled.”
A couple of years on from the shuttering of the iconic ANU Bar, and after seeing a number of nearby music venues fall away, Mr Bianchini is part of the student movement putting music back on the campus agenda.
A rather fortuitous last-minute cancellation has paved the way for Badger & Co., the panoramic pub in the brand new Kambri precinct, to fill in some of that blank space.
“We were halfway through last year and we ended up with a bit of a venue crisis for a show we were organising,” Mr Bianchini said.
“We had a whole lineup booked and the venue got pulled out from under us a few hours out from the show. They [Badger & Co.] were astounding and allowed us to do the show in Badger, almost as an impromptu house show.”
That relationship has grown stronger since, with the pub now hosting live music on the regular.
Wednesday sees an all-local lineup featuring electro-pop artist LIV LI joining indie rock bands ARCHIE and smartcasual, with all the proceeds from the show going to the Fire Relief Fund for First Nations Communities.
On Thursday night, the ANU School of Music’s Microfest will provide a night of jazz fusion and neo-soul from the its burgeoning musicians.
That formative house show vibe is honoured again on Friday, 21st February, with DJ sets from students and local mainstays capping off an impressive three-day music offering at Badger & Co.
“I just think that Canberra is on to something really awesome,” Mr Bianchini said.
“It’s on the cusp of becoming a music destination again. We’re just delighted to be making a contribution to that with the events we’re running at Badger.
“When I first came to Canberra in 2016, I wasn’t even that into music, I wasn’t thinking about it that much. I remember coming in and seeing how much enthusiasm Canberra has for the music industry. That’s kind of what started me on the path. Then ANU Bar closed, The Phoenix closed, MOLO as well. It was really upsetting. I felt we’d lost something really valuable, the thing that I loved most about the city.”
Working to cement Canberra as a nationally-relevant destination for music inherently comes with ebbs and flows as different groups of passionate people come and go from the city. But giving artists an affordable music space that’s accessible to the thousands-strong ANU community is a great place to start, Warm Water’s co-director Daniel Keo said.
“This string of shows we’re running is to prove that there is something there. Organisations like the ANU can see that potential again, so really we’re trying to get back to where we were. We’re in a better spot than ever to do that. The bedrock of talent is better than it’s ever been,” Mr Keo said.
“It’s really important to me that we cultivate and build a space on campus where local artists have the opportunity to perform regularly.
“Given the federal government’s lack of emphasis on supporting the creative arts, we also really value having the opportunity to demonstrate the commercial viability of venue-based live-music in the ACT as well.”
Now it’s up to audiences to get behind the artists.
“It’s kind of on all of us to show that Canberra music is a worthwhile investment economically and culturally,” Mr Bianchini said.
Find out more about next week’s events at Badger & Co. via Warm Water.
Tickets to Fire Relief Fundraiser for First Nations Communities on Wednesday 19th February start at $5, available through Hummanitix.