Live Music: A Large Community

Wolf Alice at Oxford Art Factory — Credit: Collective Hub

Standing amongst a sea of people as the lights dim down, conversations start to fade and chants start to fill the room. The first strum of the guitar gets everyone on their feet and everyone screams as the spotlight reveals the reason for this gathering. This must be what Rob Sheffield means.

“But bringing people together is what music has always done best.” — Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stones Music Journalist

When I was 16 years old, my older sister took me to the Soundwave Festival. It was the first time I attended a festival and it was something I will never forget. The little punk rocker inside me glowed with happiness. I was watching my favourite bands live with thousands of others who felt the same way. There was a sense of belonging and unity. This was just the beginning.

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” — Billy Joel

The sing-a-longs to the hand clapping I was all-in on the live music experience. From massive national festivals to live gigs all around town in small to large venues, if I loved the artist I wanted to see them live.

That first festival was seven years ago and since live music in Sydney hit a few obstacles. Unfortunately this includes the cancellation of my beloved Soundwave as well as the other juggernaut festival Big Day Out. Times have changed and festivals have shifted into a different direction that has seen newer festivals come alive such as Splendour in the Grass and St Jerome’s Laneway Festival.

Besides this, the biggest obstacle was in 2014 when the lockout laws were introduced. These legislations were created to strongly encourage Sydney to have a safer nightlife but instead basically turned it into a ghost town. Many significant live music venues, that has helped many Australian artists succeed, have closed.

According to APRA AMCOS figures showed a 40% drop in live music revenue at venues within the Sydney CBD lockout area with a further 19% drop in overall attendance figures. These statistics do not surprise me as for myself, I have gone from attending one at least once a week to barely one every two months. I want to support music as much as I can but there is just not enough venues or revenue from venues for artists to hold gigs in Sydney. Less venues, less availability, less gigs.

LPA Ticket Survey 2015

Live music is more than just gigs, festivals and concerts. For me it is a community. Music is a tool that brings people together. I have been able to meet several great individuals while watching some legendary artists. There is just something fulfilling standing in a crowd full of people who are there for all the same reasons. For the love of music.

“Music is the social act of communication among people, a gesture of friendship, the strongest there is.” — Malcolm Arnold, British Composer

This pitfall in live music only showed the large community that it is. There are many successful Sydney born artists whom have rallied against the lockout laws in support of the “Keep Sydney Open” campaign. Artists such as Flume, Nina Las Vegas and Flight Facilities have gone to social media to make noise around the issue alongside many individuals like myself whom have rallied with the campaign in order for change.

This community is what will keep live music alive in our city. This community is what continually reminds me just how great attending gigs, concerts and festivals are. Keep Sydney Open continues to rally and campaign against the lockout laws. With the support of many Australian artists, Sydney venues and national and community radio, everyone can get involved at http://www.keepsydneyopen.com/.

The campaign has already helped “relax” the laws with a hand full of venues exempt from the laws. Although, the ultimate goal is still to completely lift the lockout laws and “advocate for a more considered and nuanced response to alcohol-fuelled violence.”

Recently, I saw The Lumineers performing at the Sydney Opera House. In front of me was a family. Two little girls with their parents. They danced with a large smile on their face which just made me glee with joy. This is why live music should be forever. There is nothing more I would like to see than my future children experiencing watching their favourite artists on stage the way I did. I am sure there are others out there that feel the same way.

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