Surround Sounds Music Festival: The lesser-known events worth adding to your calendar

Surround Sounds Music Festival: The lesser-known events worth adding to your calendar

The adventurous new music festival Surround Sounds has officially kicked off - here's some of the more quirky must-see events to check out.

Arriving late last week, Surround Sounds – Geelong & the Bellarine Music Festival is already off to a glorious start, bringing along a bunch of Australia’s biggest names and indie heroes to perform in Geelong and the Bellarine.

Running across the next few weeks in April and May this year, the festival will continue to take to stages across the city, coast and country of Geelong and the Bellarine, with a program bursting with international and local favourites. While there are a lot of well-known acts and events to be excited about, there are also a lot of lesser-known gigs happening that promise to be unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime events worth getting to.

Stay up to date with what’s happening in and around the region here

Here are 11 of our picks for when you’re looking for something new and exciting to see:

Draw The Music

For an experience coming music and creativity like no other, Draw The Music – lunchtime Life Drawing of live music performance is an event that is high on our radar for the next month.

Every Thursday for the next four weeks, guest visual artist Annita Peters will guide music attendees to capture the sounds or performers on paper!

Inspired by the vast natural environment of Australia while studying Art and Design at the Gordon Technical College, Annita made a decision to pursue fine art.  She began studies in Visual Arts at Ballarat University College and has consolidated a sound working practice over the past three decades.

Based on the Surf Coast in Victoria, Annita’s work is surreal in essence.  Subtle, unconscious energies come into play and are made visible on paper.  Her abstract drawings revolve around a central idea of fluidity as changeability. Influenced by the likes of James Gleeson, Sally Smart, John Wolseley and Emily Kame Kngwarreye, her life drawings are both anchored in the physical world and hover within an ethereal realm. Playful distortion of the body transports the viewer to the field of imagination where human, animal and plant forms may coalesce.

Held at Creative Geelong, Centrepoint Aracade, Annita will host this entirely free event which runs for an hour, giving you the perfect excuse to head out of the office and clear your head for lunch.

Indulging in the musical talents of either Quinn EarthChild on viola and guitar; Pepper Willow Music on cello and cajon; Slovenian inspired accordion music; or Vicki Hallett on clarinet, attendees and budding artists will be guided to create their own interpretation of the sounds or performers in front of them.

Easels and paper are supplied for this incredibly unique creative experience.

Find out more here


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Music in Exile

On Friday, April 15, the newly-restored Palais will come alive with a night of music that celebrates the true face of what it looks like to be ‘Australian’.

Not-for-profit record label and artist services organisation Music in Exile is hosting a live event featuring legendary performers including Gordon Koang, Ajak Kwai, Ausecuma Beats and Chikchika who will raise the roof with their electric live performances for one night only.

With an aim of increasing access to resources and building professional networks for artists from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds working in the music industry, Music in Exile operates on an ‘artist first’ principle, ensuring that individual artists have ownership over the tools and resources necessary to build viable careers for themselves in the industry, thereby contributing to ongoing change and building an arts sector that truly reflects the many experiences to be found in Australian society.

For just $30 a pop, unwind and enjoy a beautiful evening at the newly-restored Palais Theatre as these electric artists take to the stage.

You can purchase tickets here


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Taking place at the Portarlington Mill on Friday, April 22 and Saturday, April 23, the project Un-Settled seeks to explore the stories of the land and people of the land, referencing stories and practices of first nations people, agriculture, and changes occurring with the advance of suburbia.

This art project tells small stories of the land and of people of the land and tells them in unexpected ways, illuminating these stories for all to see and hear. The stories include indigenous stories and stories of pastoralists.

Un-Settled brings together elders, researchers, storytellers, film-makers, oral historians, installation artists, musicians, and farmers, including Jenny Thomas of Bush Gothic and Barry James Gilson. The identified stories are told through various forms; light installation, oral recordings, music, moving image/media and storytelling, providing something for everyone.

With plenty of outdoor space on-site, you can also enjoy some local produce from the Bellarine while you explore. And the best part is this event suitable is for all ages.

This is a free event. You can find out more here.


A true highlight will be UNCOVER presented by Eliza Hull on Friday, April 22 from 5:30pm at Geelong Library and Heritage Centre in what promises to be an enlightening discussion of the key disparities in industry access for disabled musicians, interspersed with live musical performances.

Uncover is an event showcasing three disabled musicians performing together one by one, with Eliza Hull leading the performance. Eliza is a musical artist and disability advocate and recently performed on ABC’s Q+A. Fresh from SXSW in Austin, Texas, Eliza will perform and share her experiences at this unique event.

Eliza will also be joined by Rudely Interrupted and BATTS. Rudely Interrupted are one of Australia’s most unique acts, touring Australia wide and performing at some of the world’s most iconic venues including at the United Nations, the Kennedy Centre in Washington and selling out venues all across the world. BATTS is the project of Melbourne based musician Tanya Batt. Creating a blend of folk and rock, BATTS has been touring Australia over the past few years supporting international artists like Sharon Van Etten, Lucius, The Teskey Brothers, Leif Vollebekk, Didirri and many more.

Each artist will join her to discuss the barriers that they face in the music industry, the ways venues, labels and festivals can improve accessibility and representation for disabled artists and audiences, and what COVID has taught us in how we can make our online content more accessible for everyone.

This is a free event and will be Auslan interpreted. Find out more here


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Tenzin Choegyal

On Sunday, April 24, indulge in a Sunday session with one of the world’s finest Tibetan musicians, Tenzin Choegyal.

A master of traditional Tibetan instruments, he is best known for his extraordinary vocal ability. A son of Tibetan nomads, Tenzin feels a particular connection to the music of the high Himalayan plateau and remains dedicated to preserving Tibet’s musical traditions. At the same time, he effortlessly embraces contemporary music styles, bringing Tibetan music and song firmly into the modern world.

In a career spanning 20+ years Tenzin has performed at festivals across Australia and curated numerous events and concerts including Brisbane’s annual Festival of Tibet. Tenzin’s soaring vocals and exquisite flute solos have thrilled audiences around the globe. Through his songs and his warm explanations, Tenzin takes audiences on a musical journey that transcends cultural boundaries and reveals ancient wisdoms.

Tenzin’s obvious joyfulness is infectious and his message is uplifting. It’s sure to be an experience not soon forgotten at the Potato Shed this April.

This is a free event. Find out more here


Returning to The Deck for the first time this year is WavRiders, a local live event showcasing the best hip hop talent in the city. Running since early 2019 by Geelong’s Hip Hop collective “The Bay Collective”, WavRiders will take to the Gheringhap Street venue on Saturday, April 30 for an epic night of performances.

The event will be headlined by local rapper Juiceboxx for his first-ever headline show, alongside local favourite Jark, Torquay’s C Chef and Special Guests.

Doors open at 7pm with tickets only sold on the night. $10 before 8pm and $15 after.

You can find out more here

Norm Stanley

Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre invites music lovers to come together on Saturday, April 30 to see a live performance from Kurnai / Wotjabaluk musician, artist and storyteller Norm Stanley.

During this special afternoon performance, Norm will share personal insights and stories around his journey of self-discovery, identity and learning to become one with his Didjeridoo

The performances will start with a Welcome to Country conducted by Wadawurrung Woman Nikki McKenzie accompanied by Norm Stanley with a Smoking ceremony. During the performances, there will be yarns and question time.

If you would like to learn more about the Didjeridoo, are learning to play yourself or just love the sound this is an unmissable event.

Find out more here

Bonsai Records + Friends Showcase

Bonsai Records is the brainchild of Ella Jeffries, representing more of a folk-based blues-rock sound, groups such as Bones and Jones and Pollyman have earned themselves some impressive sets and support slots; as well as becoming favourites of the Triple J staff (with their Aus Music Tshirt day having more Bones and Jones shirts then you’d see at a headliner show). Experimenting with instruments such as lap-steel guitars, organs and harmonicas, Bonsai has established its roster as representing some of the best songwriters from our region, making it a record label that’ll feel homily to listeners of any age.

As part of Surround Sounds, Bonsai Records is hosting a showcase at the Barwon Club on Friday, May 6 from 6:30pm.

The night will feature a stellar lineup from Bonsai Record’s household names like Winksy, Pollyman, Sirens and Bones and Jones, plus friends in Fenn Wilson and Ella Sweeney. There will be a bunch of merch available from these incredible artists as well as some special Bonsai Records items too.

Tickets are $35 and can be purchased here


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Geelong Jazz Day

If you’re looking for the cream of the crop of Australian jazz talent in a relaxed setting, this mini jazz music festival is the one for you.

Geelong Jazz Day will bring music to the heart of Little Malop Street on Saturday, May 7. It promises to be an afternoon of jam-packed jazz from nine Geelong jazz bands, playing across three venues – Pistol Pete’s, the Piano Bar and the Westend Hotel.

It’s an outstanding line-up, boasting the likes of Des Camm Jazz Band, the Andy Pobjoy Trio, League of Gentlemen, Gatsby’s Vintage Jazz Band, Feelin’ Good, Royal Garden Jazz and Blues Band, Lucy Lorenne Quartet, Papa Willi Jazz Band, and the David Gardner Quartet.

Day tickets are just $35 allowing entry into any event at any time.

You can purchase tickets here

Cinematic Echo and the Big Band Bash

A unique event like none other on the program, Cinematic Echo & The Big Band Bash will feature the amazing works of Geelong based artists in a session of visual and musical exploration.

Taking place at The Heights Heritage House and Garden in Newtown, Jazz In A Hat will kick off the evening from 5pm alongside live art by Martha Dawson. A vegan dinner will go ahead from 6pm followed by Cinematic Echo with visuals by Kajeera Jenkins and Joshua Maxwell de Hoog, accompanied by Final Final with Emilia Fol on vocals and Yasmin Mobayad with spoken word.

From 8pm, guests will witness the Big Band Bash, featuring 16 live jazz musicians in a huge improvisation.

Also featuring the poetry of Corey Notaristefano and improv music by Bruce Corrin (Drums), Harrison Dodd (Bass), Raul Policarpio (Keys), Adam Wilkie (Guitar), Rohan Laird (Sax) and Eli Merquita (Synth,Vocals) with some surprise appearances from the rest of the Jazz In A Hat crew.

This event is a family-friendly outdoor event. Bring picnic mats, chairs and bean bags. Rain or shine, the madness is on!

Tickets can be purchased here.


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Element 5 by Neal

Rounding out the festival, the final day will feature a collaborative sound art, video, live performance and sculptural event, Element 5 by Neal.

Circling the notion of a world without sound, in Element5, inspiration is drawn from the earth’s four elements (air-fire-water-earth) and sound is framed as earth’s elusive fifth element. Multidisciplinary musicians Vicki Hallett and Jem Savage create a compelling and interactive audiovisual installation inspired by air, fire, water and earth – including live instrumental performances by expert percussionist Zela Papageorgiou and the creators.

Hallett and Savage will create an interactive audio installation and generative video installation which will be supplemented by live performance of newly composed work for two woodwinds and percussion. Through analysis, sonic interrogation and composition, sound emerges as the elusive fifth element in the world of Element5; engaging qualities both psychoacoustic and timbral, and connecting nodes both emotional and experiential.

Hydrophones, contact microphones and binaural microphone arrays are used to capture site-specific sound worlds (dense forest, mountain peak, wind farm, electrical substation, bonfire, underwater harbour, dripping stalactites). In development, these worlds are processed to reveal their unheard spectra and analysed to create resonances and linkages with composed musical elements.

The live performance will see the space activated with multichannel audio (including live looping/processing of the acoustic instrumentation) and projections mapped onto multiple surfaces. This will create a compelling performance space in which the audience immerses themselves in the audiovisual landscape of Element5.

Truly something that needs to be seen.

Element 5 goes down at Platform Arts on Sunday, May 8 from 4pm and 7pm.

Purchase tickets and find out more here


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Ready to go? Head to Surround Sounds Geelong website for the full program and to purchase tickets. 

Surround Sounds Geelong and the Bellarine Music Festival is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria and 94.7 The Pulse – Surround Sound Festival Partners and proudly supported by the City of Greater Geelong.