The Hometown Tour Extravaganza will see Go Dog Go, The Fillmores and Meraki Minds take to four special locations across Victoria.
When it comes to musicians coming out of regional Victoria, we’re spoilt for choice. For years now, extremely talented emerging musicians have demonstrated the untapped potential of rural Victoria’s live music scene, spilling out beyond the quality and quantity of music and arts that we see in Melbourne.
Maybe it’s something about that fresh air or the inspiring scenery that fuels creative masterminds: there are flashes of promise when it comes to these regional musicians – with emerging artists cutting through the noise and making a name for themselves.
Keep up with the latest music news, festivals, interviews and reviews here.
Today we’re looking at three bands, in particular, all with uniformly bright futures in common. And they got here by building something great, together.
With every single member hailing from regional Victoria, psych-pop four-piece Go Dog Go, Apollo Bay via Melbourne sextet The Fillmores and indie dream-pop band Meraki Minds are the acts we’ll be keeping our eye on this year – you should too.
Now based in Melbourne/Naarm, Go Dog Go have certainly come out swinging since releasing their debut EP last year amidst lockdown restrictions. Hailing from humble beginnings in Shepparton, the four-piece ensemble – made up of Charlie Bowmaker, Winton Findlay, Tobi Oladele and James Cowling – quickly made an impression where it counts.
Their first release, a wonderful cover of Joy Division’s Isolation, scored them a place on the Triple J Unearthed Best New Music Spotify playlist and a shoutout from Tommy Faith himself. Go Dog Go’s debut single, ‘The Movie’ maintained their impressive momentum, giving listeners a groovy first entry that felt familiar yet thoughtfully distinct.
Two more singles followed before the band dropped their debut EP, boasting all the hallmarks of a great psych-pop record; upbeat drums with just the right amount of processing, layered instrumentation that creates a wonderful sense of depth and an excellent blending of effects that evoke a decidedly lo-fi feel.
With the Ep providing the solid launchpad they needed, the band have been busy blowing audiences away with their signature psychedelic pop stylings at festivals and in venues across the state, all while studying music in the capital city.
“After releasing our debut EP last year amidst lockdown restrictions, we were lucky enough to play a couple of sold-out headline shows, as well our first festival slots over the summer, including Loch Hart Music Festival and Land of Plenty Festival.
“Since then, we filmed a live performance with baked which will be coming out in the next week or so! And for the past two months, we have had our heads down in the studio working on our second record.
“[We’re] very excited about this one – it’s our best and boldest music yet. Aside from this, we all play in various other bands, including Gordon Koang, Ctrl + Me, Birdsnake, Le Fleur and Evening News – which keeps us all fairly busy!”
Meraki Minds is a band who have been on our radar for some time now. Brought together by their high school music program, the indie dream-pop band originated in Ballarat and has only now started spreading its wings onto the Melbourne music scene.
Led by Peggy, their dreamy lead vocalist and Paula, their dynamic bassist/singer, Meraki Minds also features their super colourful guitarist Sam and second guitarist Jacob, who’s been bringing this much loved spirited and upbeat input to their stories and musicality.
Making melodic, high tempo and uplifting Indie pop, the band have carved out a solid reputation for their live shows, performing a collection of sophisticated jangly pop anthems. Weird, whacky and eclectic, the band have performed at the likes of Ballarat Summer Sundays, Spilt Milk and Loch Hart Music Festival, just to name a few.
Inspired by some of Australia’s most influential contemporary groups such as The Jungle Giants, Saskwatch, Cub Sport and Ocean Alley, Meraki Minds have so far released their EP ‘Persuade Me’ and three singles released with new material in the works.
“We’ve been recording an album which has been a long time coming. We’ve been recording it with makeshift soundproofing and weird, whacky and eclectic sound combinations,” they say.
“We’re hoping to release a single before our album and a possible music video incorporating the help of local artists in our circle to kickstart a few other areas of the arts after the past two years.”
Rounding out our three-must-sees is six-piece rock n roll machine The Fillmores.
Starting as The Fillmore Brothers, Jack and Seamus Fillmore, with music built on catchy, glimmering guitar hooks and endearing colloquial lyrics, the duo expanded its members and its sounds, going on to playing jangly guitar-pop in the style of The Clean and Dick Diver.
With roots in Apollo Bay, Jack and Seamus, alongside a revolving cast of members/friends/family, have garnered quite a following for their unrestrained experimentation. With several releases unleashed over the years, the latest comes in the form of the ‘Moonsurfing’ EP, comprising a bunch of quirky bedroom recordings. With seven ambitious track tapes documenting the band’s endearing and evolving sound, the EP saw the band leans into lo-fi home recording, tackling all sort of eccentric jangle pop.
Now more than a year later and the band has been busy working on the next stage of their flourishing musical journey.
“We’ve been conspiring against the powers at be to overthrow the system, whilst simultaneously finishing mixing our debut LP as well as occasionally playing shows around town.”
Despite keeping busy following the toughest two years in the music industry, these three bands have now joined forces to present their Hometown Tour Extravaganza, championing regional cities and bringing new music to each of their respective home audiences.
In June, the collective triple-headline tour will see all three bands visit each of their hometowns across regional Victoria.
The tour will make stops in Shepparton/Yorta Yorta, Ballarat/Wadawurrung and Apollo Bay/Gadubanud before winding up in Melbourne/Narrm at Northcote Social Club for a very special final celebration.
“This tour has been a long time coming for us,” says Go Dog Go.
“We initially had the idea back at the end of 2020, when the band were looking to apply for funding from Creative Victoria. We had never been on tour before and thought this could be a great way of reconnecting with our home audiences.”
Giving local artists the chance to return to their roots, the Hometown Tour Extravaganza is all part of Music Victoria’s On The Road Again series, a state-government-funded series intended to bring live music events back to Victoria, focused on the regions and outer suburbs.
Not only does the tour bring these artists back to their hometowns, but each night is also about providing the supporting bands with unique opportunities to play in regional areas where they may not normally get the chance to perform.
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The tour will kick off in Shepparton on June 10, where Go Dog Go will headline the show at The Vault. Bringing their brand new live show to their hometown, The Fillmores and Meraki Minds will perform support slots for the evening in what will be their first-ever appearance in Shepparton.
Following this format, the tour will then move on to Ballarat, where hometown heroes Meraki Minds will headline at Volta bringing their upbeat grooves and electric stage presence to local audiences.
“Victoria’s music scene is constantly being stretched and undercut and disregarded, which makes it difficult to cultivate music communities outside of major cities,” Meraki Minds say.
“For Meraki Minds, a regional tour is to give back to and pay homage to our roots which helped us get to where we’re currently situated – in Melbourne’s melting pot of arts and culture.”
Adding heat to the lineup that night, The Fillmores and Go Dog Go will provide support.
“The Fillmores are such honest and candid storytellers with really fun instrumentation and this loveable energy about them,” Meraki Minds say of their support. “As for Go Dog Go, we’ve been a fan of theirs for a while. Not only are they professional, creative and tight, but they are also lovely guys with quite a discography to check out.”
The Fillmores will then headline their hometown show at Apollo Bay Hotel on June 25, with Meraki Minds and Go Dog Go also taking to the stage with “the same wacky, and unique take on pop music that is cultivated from growing up away from the big smoke”, before all three bands end up at Melbourne’s Northcote Social Club for a final celebration on June 30.
“The regional music scene is dedicated, loving and loyal,” The Fillmores say of the upcoming tour. “So we’re stoked to be getting out there.”
“We owe so much to our experience growing up in regional Victoria, and are so excited to play not only in our home town, but to bring our music to other parts of the state that we perhaps wouldn’t have ventured to if not for this tour,” Go Dog Go adds.
“After such a difficult two years for live music, (and numerous rescheduled dates) we’re very grateful for the opportunity to play these shows.”
Like we said, these are three bands you’re going to want to keep your eye on this year, and what better way than with a collaborative show in one of our beautiful regional venues.
You can find all the touring details and tickets here.
This event is proudly supported by Loch Hart Music Festival and the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria as part of the ‘On The Road Again’ campaign.