Regional Victoria’s live music scene continues the slow trek towards normality.
When COVID-19 (aka the rollercoaster we wish we never went on) hit back in March last year, our favourite live music venues were forced to postpone their bountiful winter lineup of gigs, from G Flip, Client Liaison, and Holy Holy at the Torquay Hotel, to Waax and The Exploited at the Barwon Club, alongside the slew of regional music festivals like Loch Hart, Meadow, Groovin The Moo and Spilt Milk.
As Victoria continues the slow trek back towards normality, the live music industry’s resurgence is alive and happening with a slew of acts headed for our region… and as quickly as local gigs are being announced, they’re selling out even quicker, some in record time. In saying that, it really should come as no surprise that after such an anxious year, regional Victorians would return to one of their creature comforts – going to live gigs – for reassurance and reconnection.
Revered in the region as one of the best places to go for a couple of brewskies, a crowded bandroom and incredible Australian music, The Torquay Hotel is back, slowly filling their calendar with a roster of high calibre acts once more. Just recently the venue saw nomadic storyteller Kim Churchill perform to a sold-out vibing crowd alongside hosting James Reyne and the first Coastal Jam of the year.
Coming up, punters can get their dose of live music on the Surf Coast with the likes of NZ rock royalty Shihad this Friday (March 19); one of Australia’s largest exports and highly respected EDM producer What So Not on Good Friday as part of Coastal Jam’s next event; Jack Botts who will be bringing his charming, guitar-backed indie-folk sound to the hotel on April 8; beloved Byron Bay singer/songwriter Kyle Lionhart performing on Sunday April 18 and The Chats on April 22. Later in the year we’ll also be seeing the likes of Thelma Plum. Side note, What So Not will also be heading to Geelong on Sunday April 4 as part of Coastal Jam’s CBD edition. Keep your eye on their Facebook page for future events, and purchase tickets via Oztix here.
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Heading closer to town, The Barwon Club is also back in full swing, announcing new gigs every damn day like the legends they are. Having already hosted DZ Deathrays, Hachiku, The White Flower Society, Keaper and DEAD in the last week alone, the BC are ensuring locals have a healthy menu of gigs to get to. Looking ahead, they’ve got Hideous Sun Demon, Snake Valley and Phaedo hitting the stage tomorrow (March 17); Grindhouse on Friday, March 18; Social Haunts on Saturday March 20 and comedian My Cousin Vlad on Sunday March 21.
Exciting announcements for the BC also include Wil Wagner of the Smith Street Band on March 25; the renowned and sold-out Jerkfest 6.5 on March 27; Jeff Martin on April 8; Valhalore on April 12; Pierce Brothers on April 22; Geelong’s own Nemesium on April 23; John Floreani of Trophy Eyes on April 24; Frenzal Rhomb on April 25; Vintage Crop on May 1; Bones and Jones on May 8; and Jeff Lang on May 14. Other upcoming gigs also include Melbourne’s Private Function, Perth indie-punks Sly Withers, Mark Wilkinson, and Bootleg Rascal later in the year.
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Renowned for their epic car park parties, The Inn are also doing their bit to bring national talent to the region. Having already hosted the likes of Alice Ivy and Loods in the past month, the party-starters are upping the ante with two huge acts just announced for Easter.
Securing one of Australia’s most powerful live electro outfits, indie-pop duo Client Liaison (DJ set) will be bringing their flavour to the pub’s turntables for an epic, open-air Easter Thursday sesh in the parking lot. And if that wasn’t enough, the hotel has also locked in our favourite Sydney duo Set Mo for Easter Sunday. That’s right people, two of the biggest names in Australian dance music are heading to Geelong for Easter. Huge, absolutely huge. These events are ‘pay on the door’ so make sure you check out all the deets via Facebook.
Speaking of big names in dance music, Confidence Man has also been announced to perform at Geelong’s Pier this Easter (Sunday April 4). The Brisbane pop outfit are back on the decks in Geelong for the first time in nearly two years! Expect an energetic, no-fucks-given vibe on stage, complete with synchronised dancing and pure pop melodies, alongside a slew of local DJ supports. Check out that event here.
As a music lover, that’s a lot to be excited about – and that’s barely covering it all. We’re also blessed with weekly gigs from Pistol Pete’s Food n Blues (check out what’s on here), a bounty of regional tours at Volta in Ballarat, Bridge Hotel in Castlemaine, alongside a steady flow of local music at The Hop Inn, The Grovedale, Bombora’s, Beavs Bar, The Barking Dog and Flying Brick Cider, among many others.
If you still need convincing of just how lucky we are, there’s also a number of regional music festivals headed our way this year, including the likes of Meadow, Land of Plenty, A Day on the Green, Fresh Produce, Loch Hart Music Festival, OK Motels, and Small Town Big Sound – just to name a few.
While we’d like to finish this article on a positive note, the battle is far from over for our beloved live music venues. There’s a cloud of uncertainty that remains dark for Victoria’s live music industry, with grant money drying up, JobKeeper set to expire at the end of next month and capacity restrictions remaining stagnant. Just today Save Our Scene, the Victorian body launched last year to raise awareness for a COVID-hit live music industry, has issued an Open Letter to the Victorian government, bringing attention to the possible closure of live music venues if they don’t receive assistance from above.
With the ball in the government’s court, the only thing left to do for music lovers is to get out there and keep supporting our struggling live music industry. We’ll see you in the socially-distanced mosh.
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