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 in Canberra. 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 make sure your event 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 meant that events like yours couldn’t go forward. So, not only will you be taking your event’s entertainment factor to the next level, but you’ll get to help out someone’s career in a really significant way.

It might feel like a daunting task to decide what kind of music you’d like to have at your event. In Canberra, we are lucky enough to have a super diverse music scene, with many different artists specialising in different 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, as well as a list of 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 is 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 that they won’t be playing too loud, 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 throwing, 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 maintain a minimum average of 4/5 stars on both Google and Facebook reviews.

Azlan Bathusha

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.

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

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.

Will Campbell

Will Campbell is a solo singer-songwriter and guitarist with an easy-going and authentic sound, boasting enchanting guitar melodies and effortless vocals. Busy recording his debut EP, Will has also been performing regularly at gigs here in Canberra and interstate, at events like Relay for Life and opening for other artists in Melbourne and Sydney. Whether it’s a business opening, a corporate event, or a birthday party, Will Campbell is here to provide quality entertainment from beginning to end.

Slow Dial

This 4-piece indie-punk-psych-rock band walks the line between Pearl Jam grime vibes and Queens of the Stone Age headbangers. With sounds reminiscent of IV League and Tame Impala, Slow Dial gives you high energy rock, driving beats, heavy riffs and soaring vocals, which has landed them sold-out shows with fellow Canberra talent Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers and Sputnik Sweetheart, as well as a spot as a supporting act for Kingswood in 2019.

Smooth Ops

Smooth Ops, a 100% live group of 3 talented vocalists and a 4-piece rhythm section, have been performing at some of Canberra’s biggest venues and events for over 10 years – from the Canberra Women in Business Awards to the 150th Canadian High Commission Gala. Whether your event is charity, corporate, or black tie, Smooth Ops has something for everyone. Their repertoire of over 150 songs spans music from The Beatles to Beyoncé and is sure to get guests of all ages up on the dance floor.

Neko Pink

Neko Pink is a self-made Canberra duo that have been pumping out contemporary sunset-drive synth pop since 2017. Since then, they’ve shared the stage with big international names like Juice WRLD, Khalid and BENEE, and played Spilt Milk and Art, Not Apart. With their energetic live set, bouncy and emotive feel-good sound inspired by Mallrat, Charli XCX and E^ST, Neko Pink is guaranteed to put on a show and get you dancing.

String Elephants

String Elephants is a four piece band of local Canberra lads. Their sweet melodies, funky bass lines and up-beat rhythm – drawing on giants of the alternative genre Last Dinosaurs and Two Door Cinema Club – are sure to get your party guests up and dancing in no time. String Elephants’ debut single ‘Fluorescent’ hit #2 on the Triple J Unearthed chart back in 2016, and since then they’ve been making waves in the local scene performing at venues like The Phoenix and Transit Bar, and even going on to support one of their biggest influences, Last Dinosaurs.

Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers

Formed at a year 10 sleepover after watching School of Rock, this 4-piece all girl band of Canberra natives may have one of the coolest band names in history, but they also have one of the coolest sounds on the local music scene at the moment. Evoking Blondie, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Tired Lion, TJ&JT gives you indie pop-punk, 90s girl-grunge vibes as their songs navigate adolescent pressures and, as one of their most popular singles calls them, ‘Growing Pains.’

The FireKatz

Keep the 50s alive with The FireKatz, a local trio specialising in classic rock with infectious charisma and rhythm. The FireKatz have graced audiences with their presence all around Canberra and surrounds – including Casino Canberra, Yass Soldiers Club and the Tilba Tattoo & Rockabilly Show. Fire up your event with The FireKatz and let them bring everyone to the dance floor with some fast and fun rockabilly.

Brother Be

Formed in a garage in 2013, Brother Be is a four-piece rock band with a very important mission: to put a smile on your face. With a repertoire of upbeat party anthems that celebrate all the good things in life, their music will ensure your event goes from party to full-on celebration. Their music has shifted in the last few years from party jams to brooding and epic rock, but with no loss of energy – Brother Be is sure to unite a crowd and have everyone dancing.

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 if 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.

What's Your Opinion?


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5 Responses to The best bands for bookings and events in Canberra
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Steve Liebeck Steve Liebeck 7:59 pm 07 Oct 20

Modern relics

Jen Windsor Jen Windsor 9:22 am 04 Oct 20

Canberra Soul Club for the DJ grooves

Jan Maley-Elliott Jan Maley-Elliott 7:29 am 04 Oct 20

Swingin Tonics with Merarth Tarrant ... amazing! I believe they also have formed another group who I am sure are great entertainers..... contact Merarth for details.

    Merarth Tarrant Merarth Tarrant 8:39 pm 04 Oct 20

    Swingin' Tonics - we swing your way, want 60's? You got it. Swingin' Rockabilly Rock'n'roll with a bit of pop and country? Music on demand to meet your event's needs.

Stephen Owen Stephen Owen 10:23 pm 03 Oct 20

Yeah well if you want the worst band you should book my band No Names

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