The best bands for bookings and events in Canberra

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Azlan Bathusha

Azlan Bathusha, one of Canberra’s most recommended bands for bookings and events. Photo: Supplied.

There’s something about live music at an event that speakers, an aux cord and your music library just cannot beat. From energising the crowd to providing a personal touch to the event, hiring a band is an excellent way to ensure the occasion is fun and memorable.

Hiring a band also means you’re supporting local artists who may rely on bookings such as yours for income, especially after lockdown measures prevented events such as yours from going ahead. So, not only will you be taking your event’s entertainment factor to the next level, you’ll help out someone’s career in a significant way.

It might feel like a daunting task to decide what kind of music you’d like at your event. In Canberra, we are lucky enough to have a super-diverse music scene, with many different artists specialising in various kinds of music – so how do you decide what’s going to suit your event best? In this article, we’ll break down some of the most important things to look for in a band, and list some of Canberra’s favourites.

What makes a great band?

Let’s discuss some of the most important things to consider when booking a band:

  • Reliable. As with hiring anyone for anything, reliability and communication are key. When hiring a band, make sure you’re all on the same page about things such as dress code, the tech that’s available at the venue, and the event schedule.
  • Entertaining. This might seem like a no-brainer, but the entertainment factor extends beyond just playing music at the event. You want your band to be energetic, friendly and approachable enough to make everyone feel comfortable.
  • Sound quality. Listen to some live recordings of your potential hire before you lock them in. You’re looking for volume control and overall quality of the sound to make sure they won’t be playing too loudly, or that their gear is low-grade and unreliable.
  • Suitable genre. Make sure you do your research before you hire a band – you want a group who can play music that is appropriate for the type of event your hosting, and the crowd that will be listening to it.

The best bands for bookings and events in Canberra

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To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on RiotACT and maintained a minimum average of 4/5 stars on both Google and Facebook reviews.

Azlan Bathusha

Azlan is an engaging, original and super adaptable performer who sets himself apart with his unique and distinctive style. With an interesting musical foundation of percussion-oriented acoustic guitar playing and layering of riff, rhythm and vocal harmony, this attention-grabbing technique combined with his enthusiastic stage presence gives a lively, dynamic and surprising show.

Azlan’s variety and quality is also impressive – he can satisfy a broad range of music lovers with a playlist of covers that spans both time and style, delivered with his own refreshing takes and laid back ambience, able to satisfy expectations, do justice to classics and still infuse his own flavour into the tunes.

Azlan’s music is all about putting the audience at ease, crafting an atmosphere of beers on the beach and lazy Sundays. Consider yourself warned – it’ll be hard to resist sing-alongs and dance breaks when Azlan’s on the stage.

Special K.

With a large repertoire covering many styles, Special K (Kenny) makes people happy through professional live music entertainment. Whether it's a solo, duo or band gig, Special K is one of Canberra's favourite entertainers.

Special K has more than 20 years’ experience and is always punctual. He’s been spotted at some of Canberra’s most popular places, like Caribou, King O’Malley’s, Magoo’s, BentSpoke Brewing Co., and The Burns Club.

Ken Pattugalan

Special K. Ken Pattugalan one of Canberra’s most recommended musicians for bookings and events in Canberra. Photo: Supplied.

Highly respected, Special K has an inviting personality. An adaptable performer, he always welcomes requested songs. He reads a crowd well, selecting tunes to suit the mood, whether chilled and relaxed or lively. Special K’s music is guaranteed to ramp up the fun and get crowds tapping their toes and movin’ to the groove.

Special K is versatile, vibrant and never compromises on sound quality. He plays a vast array of cover songs and originals, and adjusts sound levels to the venue and event.

On RiotAct, Wendy Johnson wrote, “I’ve been a mega fan of Special K for years and years. Kenny never disappoints. He adjusts his music to the audience’s moods and gets a real kick out of tapping into people’s energy levels. He’s a fabulous, non-pretentious, must-see entertainer.”

Harry Cleverdon

Harry Cleverdon is a modern pop singer-songwriter, recording artist and captivating live performer. Although just 21 years of age, Harry is making waves as a dynamic musician who transcends boundaries and guarantees exciting performances. His signature style features finely crafted and poignant lyrics, elevated by irresistible vocals and underscored by captivating melodies.

From the regional NSW town of Young, Harry’s music is a mesmerizing blend of modern pop sensibilities with a timeless appeal. He has won the International Songwriting Competition (United States), claiming the coveted People's Voice Category, and received national critical acclaim for his debut EP/album and subsequent single releases.

Harry is part of a new generation of Australian musicians making a resounding impact across the country and the world. His streaming numbers already surpass a quarter of a million and he continues to strike a chord with an increasing number of listeners. Harry truly is an accomplished songwriter and an experienced standout performer.

Sputnik Sweetheart

This duo made their debut in 2019 and have been making waves ever since. With their emotive, high energy, progressive indie-punk sound, Sputnik Sweetheart have played shows like Spilt Milk and Stonefest and supported Aussie music icons like Ball Park Music, Spacey Jane and Kingswood. Their music boasts satisfying vocal harmonies, complex and creative riffs and rhythms, and extremely catchy – yet thought-provoking – lyrics, exploring the social and political landscape and how it affects the youth of today.


Ghostnoises, or Liam White, is a solo electronic and live acoustic artist. With a unique and experimental sound drawing from many influences and genres, Liam is guaranteed to add a whole new dimension to the entertainment at your event. Liam's extensive repertoire includes gigs at Canberra's own Phoenix Bar and Smiths Alternative, as a supporting act for Kingston County and Boroky, and even out at Laneway Festival in 2018.

If you’re looking for more ways to take your event from good to great, check out our articles on the best catering services and the best function venues in Canberra. Or, if you’re looking for a place to listen to live music, our article on the best Kingston Foreshore bars and restaurants may be of help!

Your experience with bands for bookings and events in Canberra

Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback. If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.

Have you had any experience with the bands listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will hired bands provide their own tech?

Yes - all bands should have access to their own tech, usually sound equipment such as microphones and amps. However, you will probably need to organise lighting and any other special sound systems, such as extra speakers around the venue.

How long do hired bands play for?

Bands will offer different set lengths, but you can usually expect one set to last about 40-45 minutes, with one 20-minute interval. Make sure you check ahead of booking that they will be able to play the full allocated time.

What is a cover band?

A cover band will play almost exclusively songs by other artists. Cover bands are a great choice for hire if you want to be sure that they will play songs that everyone will know and enjoy.

Can I give a hired band songs to play?

Generally speaking, yes, but you probably won't be able to give them a full set list. You should be able to contact the band ahead of time with a couple of special song suggestions that you really want to be included, and they can let you know whether they're able to incorporate them into the set.

Do hired bands need refreshments?

Yes. Your band will probably be at the venue to set up before the event starts and will likely leave very late, so it's greatly appreciated if you provide them with free soft drinks and some food.

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+1 to The Silky Six. Saw them at a corporate function a while ago. They are a six piece with male and female vocalists. Great set list. They also played some acoustic stuff over dinner and I think I heard them mentioned as the band playing at the Mix 106 bridesmaidzilla wedding.

New band in town. They played at the Helenic club last week. The Silky Six.
Well worth a look. I know they are playing at an awards night this week to about 300 people so they would fit your bill. Good luck!

Holden Caulfield12:45 pm 08 Jan 13

Peppablack said :

I would recommend Heuristic!

These guys played at the NYE gig in Civic and were pretty good. Don’t let the website put you off, they are much better than that, haha!

ian_heffernan3:56 pm 04 Jan 13

Hello, Topshelf was asked to quote on a 400+ people March gig at Thredbo some time back by one of the local Canberra agencies. I suspect this may be the same gig. We would love the opportunity to discuss this with you as gigs like this are exactly what we specialise in.

You can check us out at:

There’s a contact page on there as well as pics, sound bits and a gig guide that will show the sort of gigs we do.

Please feel free to contact me.

Krissylawler2:11 pm 04 Jan 13

Hi there. My local band Groove Dot Com are very popular and experienced. check out our Facebook page for info on songs, photos and mp3’s of some of our covers. We regularly play for weddings and all sorts of parties. Give me a call on 0406720206 and is be happy to discuss cost etc. cheers, Kristine
PS: Facebook page –

I would recommend Heuristic!

agree with ceemee, have seen the cover notes play on a couple of occasions and they are awesome. really liked the diverse selection of music they played!!!

I would recommend the Cover Notes. They played at a friend’s 40th birthday just before Christmas and they were awesome.

Jennie Halsall10:21 am 01 May 19

Hi Ceemee
I can’t seem to find cover notes website do you have a link pls?

I run my own lighting and sound group, and if interested can provide lighting and or sound equipment and operation for VERY reasonable costs. If it is a charity event, can usually do it free of charge. Let me know. for any questions. Have ALOT of experience.

Disorganised Crime are good if you’re after Aussie pub rock. They are on facebook.

Saw the “Cover Notes” play at the Hellenic Club before Christmas. They were great. Wide variety of songs and styles covered. Dance floor was packed all night.

Old Bones are an excellent rock and roll/pub rock band – eminently danceable. No idea what they charge, but you could email them:

Check out plump on facebook. (Search for plump band should get it)

I found that if you call a good band, even if they’re not available they’ll know another good one who might be.

One suggestion:

and there’s this discussion about bands:

I booked Annie and the Armadillos for a 400 seat gig a few years ago. They were great, and had the joint jumping. I highly recommend them.

“Annie” is Annette Sloan IIRC. I’m sure Google will help you to contact her.

Have just sent this to someone I know that has a band.

Hitparade are fantastic, they played at a party i went to a couple of weeks ago.

Manageable Ann8:49 pm 03 Jan 13

It’s not recent music (most of it) but I can offer a 8 piece funk band guaranteed to get people up and dancing with the most energetic frontman in Canberra. If you’re interested email and we’ll work something out.

The Cool are excellent if still around.

We just has top shelf play at our Christmas party, they were great. Just google ‘top shelf canberra’

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