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Canberra music going national: the National Live Music Awards 2019

Donovan McComb-Gray 1 November 2019
ndie band Sputnik Sweetheart

Indie band Sputnik Sweetheart has been nominated for Best Live Act in the ACT. Photo: Jack Gruber.

The night of nights for live music in Australia is right around the corner. Highlighting the hard work and ethos of Australian artists, the National Live Music Awards are a celebrated occasion. Like any awards ceremony, it’s time for artists to relax and reflect on the year that has been before moving towards whatever comes next. After all their work, it’s time for some play.

For Canberra, it’s time yet again to show the rest of the country we know how to perform just as well as other capital cities. As well as our Territory awards, we also have three local artists nominated for national awards.

National awards

In the Live Hip Hop category, Canberra-based artist Genesis Owusu has been nominated for the second year in a row and with the past 12 months behind him, he really should be competing in a league of his own. A year of attention and momentum, 2019 has been a landmark year for the rapper. Recent achievements include performing at a TED Conference in Sydney to great delight, and a slew of shows in Europe.

Starting the year with a bang, he released a double single to great success, having spent time in California with members of the Free Nationals and Hiatus Kaiyote. It was a breakout success, with track ‘WUTD’ now resting comfortably with over a million streams on Spotify. Maintaining this momentum, he later released another double single featuring the instant summer classic ‘Good Times’ (already breaking half a million). He’s also nominated locally for Live Voice of the Year.

Genre hopping now to the Hard Rock category, we have two local bands head to head. The first is Hands like Houses, a Canberra-founded band that’s experienced great success in the US. Having been signed to Rise Records back in 2012, they became regulars on the festival circuit, to date doing Vans Warped Tour twice and Download in the UK to name a few. And after all this success, and time spent overseas, they still call Canberra home.

The second Canberra contender, Glitoris, is a breakout success. Coming out of the gates in 2014, they’ve risen into popularity through an energetic live performance and a politically driven sound. It’s no surprise that once again they’ve found themselves on the nomination list. 

ACT awards

The NLMAs is a great reminder of artists, venues and festivals that bring our city alive.

For Live Act of the Year, there’s a healthy mix of indie rock and electronica and everything in between. We have experimental popstar Endry, rapper Kirkkland, electronic trio SAFIA, indie rockers Sputnik Sweetheart and teen idols Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers.

In the Live Voice category, we have a just as generous offering. We have Genesis Owusu who needs no introduction, fellow ACT rapper Citizen Kay, singer-songwriter of The Burley Griffin Evan Buckley, singer-songwriter Lucy Sugerman and Cooma-born, Canberra-based folk/indie/jazz/alternative instrumentalist Vendulka.

Highlighting the entire scene and community, the NLMAs want to celebrate and acknowledge the hard work of venues and the role they play in local music. All need no description, and no doubt you’ve likely attended an event or more in the past 12 months!

Live Venue of the Year

  • Smith’s Alternative
  • UC Refectory
  • Transit Bar
  • The Polish Club
  • sideway.

Live Event of the Year

  • Canbeurovision
  • Groovin’ the Moo
  • National Folk Festival
  • No Front Fences
  • Spilt Milk.

To take part and vote for your favourite artists of the year, vote here. The winners of this year’s NLMAs will be announced on 4 December at sideway

Were there any standout bands that you saw live this year? Let us know below!


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