Missing Melbourne's music scene

2 Comments

 

It’s been five weeks of social isolation measures and working from home for so many of us now. I wish I could say that for me, there’s been an acceptance of the situation and a slotting into a routine. Unfortunately that’s not the case. 

Gina Somfleth one half of musical group Peachnoise performs at her home as part of Isol-Aid on March 28, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

To work, write and study from a living room while only really having trips to the supermarket or long walks for ‘exercise purposes’ (mainly, I just get out to look at other people’s dogs) is tough physically, mentally and professionally on me and I’m sure others are similarly struggling.

If there is one thing I have noticed though, at least from the social media communications so many of us are now reliant on for contact, is that people are being a little more tolerant of how people are processing this lockdown individually. The policing of people’s movements online (let’s say nothing about the fining rates of Victoria Police at this juncture) and yelling at everyone to ‘stay home’ seems to have eased off, giving way to quizzes, cooking types and a celebration of the mundane.

Perhaps this is partly due to the fact that we’re all watching the infection numbers in the media reports declining and can tell from these that most people are doing their bit. It has been welcome news the past few days to see that some relaxing of ‘the rules’ in certain jurisdictions is going to happen due to the COVID-19 infection curve flattening. Though Victoria appears to be taking a more cautious approach, I am looking forward to welcoming back so many of the things I have missed during this time into my life.

Possibly the thing I have missed the most is Melbourne’s live music scene. It’s been hard knowing I can’t just go to the pub, or eat at a restaurant, or do so many of the other things I generally take for granted in this city. But the removal of being able to go to a venue and admire the sheer volume of talent this city produces — not to mention the talent we also get in from other states and territories — has hit me hard.

Considering how many of the venues have had to close and how many planned gigs bands have been postponed, and also considering how many hospitality staff have had to be stood down, I do wonder what the other end of isolation is going to look like for the music scene. It was troubling, for example, to read this report by Tom Parker of Beat Magazine, talking not just of these doors closing but of a petition that had been launched by Guy Palermo of The Bendigo back in March to try and assure a future for these venues that had yet to be acknowledged by the state government.

 

'But more than anything, I cannot wait to see what our amazing music scene in this city — indeed this country which per capita has always punched well above its weight internationally — has in store for us on the other side.'

 

I do note that the Victorian Government has since committed to a $16.8M package with monies both for arts organisations and individual creatives. Given, however, that Victoria’s creative industries make up about 8 per cent of the economy here, I wonder if this pledge is even going to touch the sides of the problem, particularly since many in the industry feel the federal government has done almost nothing.

On the positive though, in such circumstances, it has been wonderful seeing so many of my favourite local bands continue to release albums and singles. Cable Ties excellent new release Far Enough was one of the first records I bought during lockdown. Similarly, after weeks of sitting on a couch working, listening to The Pretty Littles sing about the virtues of ergonomic furniture on their new album Weekend Away gives me ironic joy.

Then there were the other musical initiatives I’ve seen. Many of these bands, for example, have been getting together and performing from their lounge rooms, laundries and really, whichever room can hold an amp so people can watch them on Instagram via Isol-Aid every weekend. My music purchases have additionally gone through the roof because online independent music site Bandcamp has committed to waiving their fees to support the artists on the first Friday of every month. My MP3 Player is the healthiest it’s ever looked.

Then there’s the venues changing their focus to food and alcohol delivery. Or working in partnership to survive via creating vegetable boxes. Or encouraging punters to stock up on merchandise during this time. It’s heartbreaking seeing some venues have to crowdfund to ensure they have a safety net during this time, or see others go up for sale, but if it means that after all of this all us freaks and weirdos still have places to gather and appreciate the tunes then I’m completely here for it.

I can’t wait until this is over and the majority of us are in the process of rebuilding our normal lives. But more than anything, I cannot wait to see what our amazing music scene in this city — indeed this country which per capita has always punched well above its weight internationally — has in store for us on the other side. My only wish is that right now, when they need it, the governments would commit to doing more to ensuring that Australia’s creative output is able to be as strong and as vibrant as it was prior to the pandemic. The music scene, and indeed the arts in general, do not just deserve the support, they are integral to the rebuilding process.

 

 

Celeste LiddleCeleste Liddle is a trade unionist, a freelance opinion writer and social commentator. She blogs at Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist.

Main image: Gina Somfleth one half of musical group Peachnoise performs at her home as part of Isol-Aid on March 28, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images) 

Topic tags: Celeste Liddle, COVID-19, music, Melbourne, Cable Ties, The Pretty Littles

 

 

submit a comment

Existing comments

Nice one, Celeste. Hang in there!
Michael Furtado | 19 May 2020


Ah, where are the latter-day Dick Hamers and Gough Whitlams when we need them so ?
Ginger Meggs | 04 June 2020


x

Subscribe for more stories like this.

Free sign-up