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Canberra’s live music scene – what happened?

By gungsuperstar 21 January 2013 40

I don’t think it was that long ago that I used to be able to check out a gig guide and find a litany of upcoming fairly major Australian, and sometimes international acts. We’d get enough that my disappointment was generally around an inability to go to all of them. January/February was always a particularly good time as we got the remnants of acts who were doing the festival circuits.

I’ve spent the last 2 months waiting for these gigs to appear… And this year, they never did.

What happened to music in this city? When did it become the case that the only time I can see good, “name” acts is at our bogan, university-based, pay-$130-so-you-can-pass-out-by-3pm festivals?

Of course, we lack good venues – the theatre is lame for any rock or indy act. Transit is tiny, and ANU and UC’s venues are full of the same crowd as the aforementioned festivals – but with less crowd control.

But it didn’t stop hundreds of people going. Apart from a couple of failed festivals, most of the gigs with well-known artists are full.

So again, what happened?

There’s only so many times I can go to the Phoenix with its, at best, 66% strike rate of crap, and pretend that I’m happy giving these chumps money.

What’s Your opinion?


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Canberra’s live music scene – what happened?
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straybullet 11:58 am 23 Nov 15

If you can remember way back in 1995 when Pearl Jam (who were at their peak of popularity at the time and one of the World’s biggest bands) decided on playing at EPIC Park Canberra but after the show came out with MANY gripes like poor crowds and behaviour, the logistics not at its best and local help in setting up the Gig as just a few examples…

They passed on their experiences to other big name “grunge” and normal rock bands from the 1990s from the United States and told them all to NEVER waste their time and effort to put on live shows in Canberra ever again in their tour gig lists.

THAT REALLY killed Canberra’s chance of bringing in any more big name Bands playing LIVE here again! Pretty sad and regrettable unfortunately, we (Canberra’s music scene) really dropped the ball on what would untimely destroy BIG name acts from coming to Canberra!

dph 2:12 pm 23 Jan 13

farnarkler said :

You all forgot G3 which kick sh*t out of everyone else mentioned!! Yes the music scene isn’t as good as it was back in the 80’s. Remember the concerts at Bruce indoor stadium? We used to get Midnight Oil and INXS roll up every couple of years. These days there just aren’t any Australian bands who are as good as them. Good on The Abbey getting the acts they’ve had.

“The music scene isn’t as good as it was in the 80’s”… yeah, it’s about 100 times better.

Thumper 1:47 pm 23 Jan 13

Just putting it out there, live original music right up until 11.00pm tonight at PJs in Tuggeranong.

If people want live music,even if it is just local, then you have to go out an support it.

sirocco 1:20 pm 23 Jan 13

Ben_Dover said :

sirocco said :

Pearl Jam played at EPIC in about 1995

hmmmmm… not really recent then….

Only mentioned it because someone else mentioned Nirvana & Kurt’s been dead for over 15yrs.

Also, I dunno if anyone has noticed but The Transit Bar has been kicking with loads of live music recently – and it’s cosy & intimate – and a quick glance at their website http://www.transitbar.com.au/ shows they’ve got indy bands from WA & garage rock from San Francisco just in the next week or two…

Eyeball In A Quart Jar Of Snot 2:30 pm 22 Jan 13

Ben_Dover said :

Eyeball In A Quart Jar Of Snot said :

The last international gig I went to in Canberra was Flipper at the ANU in 2009. The legendary Bay Area punk band attracted something like 40 people, and they were not impressed.

Who, the crowd or “Flipper”?

Well, there might have been some in the crowd not too impressed with Flipper’s reaction of not being impressed.

Ben_Dover 2:28 pm 22 Jan 13

Australian fans of seminal shoegaze outfit My Bloody Valentine, who have spent probably a solid chunk of their lives waiting for them to tour, can finally exhale. My Bloody Valentine will be touring throughout Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne this coming Feb, with founding members Kevin Shields and Colm Ó Cíosóig, along with Belinda Butcher and Debbie Googe

Monday, 18th Feb
Enmore Theatre, Sydney

Wednesday, 20th Feb
Tivoli Theatre, Brisbane

Friday, 22 Feb
Palace Theatre, Melbourne

If Canberra wasn’t allegedly the “capital” of Aus, would I be less inclined to be totally peed off reading this?

Ben_Dover 2:06 pm 22 Jan 13

Eyeball In A Quart Jar Of Snot said :

The last international gig I went to in Canberra was Flipper at the ANU in 2009. The legendary Bay Area punk band attracted something like 40 people, and they were not impressed.

Who, the crowd or “Flipper”?

Eyeball In A Quart Jar Of Snot 1:57 pm 22 Jan 13

It comes down to promoters/venues, and these days Canberra just can’t guarantee most touring acts a profit.

A lot of smaller international artists already lose money coming to Australia, and it’s certainly tougher in this current economic climate for American bands in particular.

It does appear that things were better in the 90’s, and that may sound like nostalgia talking but I think it just has to do with the quality of venues that were around, and a lot can be said about the previous management at the ANU Refectory.

The last international gig I went to in Canberra was Flipper at the ANU in 2009. The legendary Bay Area punk band attracted something like 40 people, and they were not impressed.

It seems like a lifetime ago that I saw Zeni Geva at the Woden Youth Centre in 1995. I’m sure the crowd was much larger than that Flipper gig.

The local music scene, in my opinion, was much stronger (and diverse) back then, and not as dominated by a few cliquey groups as it is now.

But Canberra is a small town in essence. It occasionally punches above its weight but it’s not a big city, and often I think expectations are too high.

DrKoresh 11:51 am 22 Jan 13

Bone Thugz ‘n’ Harmony?! Aw man. Drapht is meant to be doing a gig at Zierholz in March, I might go that.

Reena 11:42 am 22 Jan 13

This is my first time posting so I hope this is helpful…

I just thought I’d list some past gigs that were all at Zierholz @ UC (all taken from their past shows list on uclive.com.au)… and if you say well maybe they weren’t advertised well enough they would have all been in BMA or the Riotact gig guide… which I imagine you would check for what’s going on around town. And believe it or not the ticket prices aren’t over the top and the demographic of people coming to shows at Zierholz@ UC are not just uni students or bogans. I could also point out that of course the last 2 months have been quiet for gigs – December and Jan usually are around Canberra… get out there and support live music and more live music will come to Canberra. hope we see some great shows this year.

Alison Wonderland
Bone Thugs N Harmony (USA)
Busby Marou
Children Collide
Daniel Merriweather
Dead Letter Circus
Dialectrix
Drapht
Hey Geronimo
Holly Throsby
Illy
Josh Pyke
Last Dinosaurs
Mantra
Owl Eyes
Parachute Youth
Regurgitator
San Cisco
Sick of It All (USA)
Sietta
Skryptcha
Stonefield
The Bedroom Philosopher
The Griswolds
Thundamentals
Van She

Ben_Dover 11:20 am 22 Jan 13

sirocco said :

Pearl Jam played at EPIC in about 1995

hmmmmm… not really recent then….

sirocco 10:43 am 22 Jan 13

Ben_Dover said :

Pearl Jam (h)
Pantera (h)
Groove Armada (h)

When did these play? Is there a secret adverting website for these gigs?

Pearl Jam played at EPIC in about 1995(?) it was the only Australian Pearl Jam concert in that your that wasn’t sold out. 30,000(?) Canberrans. I seem to remember people in other cities calling JJJ desperate for a Pearl Jam ticket & being told Canberra still had tix and the callers saying “yeeeaaaahh, but it’s Canberra :/ “

bikhet 9:36 am 22 Jan 13

All trivia in comparison the news I just heard – we’re going to miss out on the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra!

Ben_Dover 8:37 am 22 Jan 13

Pearl Jam (h)
Pantera (h)
Groove Armada (h)

When did these play? Is there a secret adverting website for these gigs?

rosscoact 6:51 am 22 Jan 13

And The Toot Toot Toots have played three times at Phoenix

what_the 1:17 am 22 Jan 13

Pearl Jam
Pantera
Groove Armada

I’m with Keijidosha – I’ve been to acts where the turn out was dismal abs thought after all the bitching this is why bands don’t come here.

DrKoresh 12:43 am 22 Jan 13

Ben_Dover said :

Ok, so who have we had?

Lady Gagme. (s)
Pink.
Brian Jonestown Massacre (w)
Hoodoo Gurus (w)
Mumford & Sons (w)
Nick Cave
Jimmy Barnes (h)
Guy Sebastian (h)(s)
The Presets
Timomatic.(w)
Fat Reg (h)
Three of the five members of D12 (w)
Chamillionaire (w)
Alice Cooper.

When did Nick Cave play here last? I ‘d have paid good money.

But that list is not really convincing me that Canberra has had any major acts here in the last decade.

(w) Who?
(h) Has been
(s) Sh!te.

I went to that most recent Alice Cooper show (assuming that was in 2010-2011) and I still love him. I liked that concert a lot and I’m not a massive fan of live shows (I’m a bit of a homebody) but I think that was mainly because my lady and I were 2 of maybe only 20 young peeps amongst a sea of relatively relaxed middle-aged folk. But let’s be honest, he needs and (h) next to his name. Legend or not, he only managed to get out about half the lyrics to most of his songs. They had recorded vocals so there weren’t awkward silences when he ran out of breath.

c_c™ 12:16 am 22 Jan 13

gunslingr said :

Don’t get me started on the gigs that Wollongong gets over Canberra…

Just saw on TV Bryan Adams is doing Wollongong and Newcastle in April. Not Canberra (or Sydney interestingly). Suppose there’s a chance he’ll be a surprise act for Enlighten… bahhahaha.

When Wollongong and RSLs on the coast can get some acts when Canberra doesn’t, makes it hard to say we don’t have the population for it. So what does give?

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