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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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40 Responses to
Canberra’s live music scene – what happened?
gungsuperstar 1:19 pm 21 Jan 13

Perhaps I should’ve been more specific – Lady Gaga and Pink are not ‘music’, they’re entertainment. (That’s not to take anything away from them, they’re just not what I’m talking about.) Hoodoo Gurus, Colin Hay and Elton John (who I saw on his previous tour) were music 20 years ago, but are now nostalgia.

The bands that I’m talking about are “Indie” bands – they made their name playing small venues. When Alt-J, Of Monsters and Men or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs play individual shows, they aren’t playing 20,000 seat entertainment centres – they’re playing the Hordern which only holds a couple of thousand people.

The Mumford and Sons gig was what got me expecting it to be a good summer of music. And it’s not like I expect Radiohead or the Chili Peppers to come to Canberra – but if it’s good enough for internationals like Mumford and Suns and Massive Attack, and locals like The Drones and Hilltop Hoods to play in Canberra to huge audiences, why don’t we even have the up and coming Australian acts passing through Canberra?

Is it just that no one’s booking them? Or is it that, even with sell out crowds, you can’t make money from them?

Roadrage77 12:51 pm 21 Jan 13

johnboy said :

Lady Gaga wasn’t that long ago.

Big enough for you?

You’re being fairly liberal with your interpretation of “music”.

DrKoresh 12:49 pm 21 Jan 13

We had the Heatwave concert at the end of 2011. Three of the five members of D12 showed-up. Not Eminem, obviously but still. And Chamillionaire was supposed to be there, but he never showed (apparently his was occupied by a groupie in his hotel room).

Hmmm… I think I’m beginning to see your point…

chewy14 12:44 pm 21 Jan 13

Hey this Friday there’s a Gig with Jimmy Barnes, Guy Sebastian, The Presets and Timomatic.

We get all the big names.

Thumper 12:06 pm 21 Jan 13

Thumper said :

Ben_Dover said :

I have tickets for the following forthcoming gigs; Dead Can Dance, PIL, Alan Davies, Ross Noble, all in Sydney.

To be fair, Bill Bailley seems to like us, and the Big Yin visited not so long back, (and slagged Canberra off a treat on the rest of his Aus tour dates.)

Who else has played here of late? Didn’t Pink play a while back?

Brian Jonestown Massacre, last year.

Hoodoo Gurus lobbed in for a gig as well.

And that fat guy that once followed a yellow brick road.

Um, what’s his name?

rosscoact 12:05 pm 21 Jan 13

Mumford & Sons

Nick Cave a couple of years ago (might be more though)

Thumper 12:01 pm 21 Jan 13

Ben_Dover said :

I have tickets for the following forthcoming gigs; Dead Can Dance, PIL, Alan Davies, Ross Noble, all in Sydney.

To be fair, Bill Bailley seems to like us, and the Big Yin visited not so long back, (and slagged Canberra off a treat on the rest of his Aus tour dates.)

Who else has played here of late? Didn’t Pink play a while back?

Brian Jonestown Massacre, last year.

Hoodoo Gurus lobbed in for a gig as well.

Madam Cholet 11:57 am 21 Jan 13

I’m going to see Colin Hay in February. Does he count?

johnboy 11:52 am 21 Jan 13

Lady Gaga wasn’t that long ago.

Big enough for you?

Ben_Dover 11:47 am 21 Jan 13

I have tickets for the following forthcoming gigs; Dead Can Dance, PIL, Alan Davies, Ross Noble, all in Sydney.

To be fair, Bill Bailley seems to like us, and the Big Yin visited not so long back, (and slagged Canberra off a treat on the rest of his Aus tour dates.)

Who else has played here of late? Didn’t Pink play a while back?

enrique 11:27 am 21 Jan 13

Ben_Dover said :

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.

Lay off the brown acid mate. I’ve lived here over a decade, and could count on the fingers of one foot the major acts we’ve had here.

Agreed… this has always been an issue here… but…

When they actually do come here we get an up close and personal experience that most other cities never get…

i.e. The Prodigy at the old Asylum, Public Enemy random public after-party at the Red Room, UNKLE at Academy, Nirvana at ANU, Faith No More at ANU, etc…

We do get ’em every now and again, but they’re few and far between.

Cost is THE problem. Big name acts charge through the nose to appear – we simply don’t have the crowd numbers to do it very often here.

Ben_Dover 10:49 am 21 Jan 13

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.

Lay off the brown acid mate. I’ve lived here over a decade, and could count on the fingers of one foot the major acts we’ve had here.

cegee 10:17 am 21 Jan 13

there is going to be an excellent band playing at Transit tonight – A Place To Bury Strangers from New York. so. it does happen.

Thumper 10:07 am 21 Jan 13

Greedy clubs and pokies.

golden_youth 9:43 am 21 Jan 13

This Friday there is going to be a great gig at the Hellenic Club in the city (search for the previous post about it re: Tease and Tearways).

This is being put on by a bunch of local girls who want to bring good bands to Canberra…instead of sitting around whinging about how no bands come to Canberra, they went out and booked it themselves! Sure they will probably lose money, but at least they have given it a go and fingers crossed they have a good turnout!

As for International bands, I am sure it just comes down to their schedules and the cost to come inland. Why go out of your way to Canberra when you can play sold out shows in Syd and Melb!

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