Earlier this year, a study confirmed a fact residents of Victoria's capital had long suspected – Melbourne is the live music capital of the world. On an average Saturday night in Melbourne, live music venues estimated an audience of 112,000 people – equivalent to an AFL grand final. With Melbourne Music Week about to hit the city, it feels like the appropriate time to truly celebrate this glorious statistic with a quintessentially Melbourne program. Mixdown takes a look at some of the unique highlights.
1. Civic Sounds Laneway Party (AC/DC Lane, Sunday November 18)
Melbourne's music scene is eternally defined by both its quality and its quantity. Mentioning the scene interstate and internationally immediately conjures its electic and elusive character. The Civic Sounds Laneway Party is perhaps the closest you could get to a perfect celebration of that: a casual all-day festival sprawling across several venues in the iconic AC/DC lane, headed by rock veterans Regurgitator and jangly-upstarts RVG. Hiatus Kaiyote's Nai Palm, The Bennies, Bec Sandridge, IV League, Ro, Batz, Destrends and DPRS fill out the rest of the madly genre-hopping lineup.
2. Melbourne Synth Festival (Melbourne Meat Market, Friday November 23 - Sunday November 25)
After the success of the Melbourne Guitar Show, the inaugral Melbourne Synth Festival was dreamed up by the same team to distil the vanguard of new synthesis technology, premier workshops and seminars, a curated history and live sets into the one premier event. Any working musician or interested party would be committing an act of self-sabotage to ignore this one – 010 Music, Akai, Pittsburgh Modular, Propellerhead, Korg, Avid, M-Audio are all debuting state of the art gear, while Luke Million, Honeysmack, Beatrice and Emah Fox will be performing sets across the entire weekend.
3. You Am I + Gareth Liddiard + Clowns + New War (Melbourne Town Hall, Sunday November 18)
If there was ever a quad-bill that could sell itself without a gimmick, it would be the above. Still, it doesn't hurt that Oz rock veterans You Am I will be making a dual-debut on Sunday night – their first appearance for Melbourne Music Week will incorporate the trembling power of Melbourne Town Hall's Grand Organ. Punters should brace themselves for a doubly heartbreaking 'Heavy Heart' and a truly pummelling 'Berlin Chair' as the organ pushes 90,000 cubic feet of air a minute through its 10,000 pipes. Gareth Liddiard's black-as-coal charisma will be the next best thing. The former Drones and current Tropical Fuck Storm frontman's solo sets are notoriously freewheeling, laced with acerbic monologues about Rupert Murdoch, colonial history and alcohol. Cult punk rockers Clowns and icy post-punkers No War will open the show, ensuring your night at Melbourne Town Hall will certainly be one to inch you closer to tinnitus and a night you won't forget.
4. Dark Space Project (The Toff in Town, Sunday November 18)
In today's hyper-saturated, entertainment riddled world, the experience of buying an album, putting on your record player and sitting still to listen contemplatively is a forgotten dream; portable music killed it, and streaming and playlists killed it again. Live music tends to be the last bastion of focused listening, and Dark Space Project is here to take immersion back, performing a live improvisational journey through ambient and psychedelia in complete darkness. The sensory deprivation will provide a rare textural appreciation for harmonic nuance before spitting you into heaving reality again as the beat-heavy climax arrives with a visual display of video synthesisers and laser art.
5. MMW Talks: Wednesday Ritual - The Origin of Inpress (Village Roadshow Theatrette, State Library of Victoria, Wednesday November 21)
Australia might just have the most vibrant street press in the world. While this statement might be (sadly) unverifiable, it is perhaps the country's size that lends itself best to the weekly free localised street press (just like us!). Inpress was one of the first, published up until 2013, and featured iconic columns on pop culture, music, and film. InPress co-founders Andrew Watt and Rowena Webber, Katrina Hall and Michael Parisi are taking a look back at the company's heyday for MMW, alongside a performance from rising singer-songwriter Alana Wilkinson.
6. Melbourne to Memphis (Flemington Bowls Club, Sunday November 18)
This might be an annual event, but the Melbourne to Memphis Competition is continually worth a look. Too often blues bands are dismissed as though they're all middle-aged pub cover bands; this competion proves 'em all wrong, collecting Victoria's very best blues players to battle it out over the chance to compete at the International Blues Challenge in, as you may have guessed, Memphis. You'll get plenty of variety and passion for an affordable buck, topped by name-acts Rhythm X Revival and the McNamarr Project.
7. Want It To End: Fierce Mild Live Virtual Reality Experience (The Courthouse Hotel, Thursday November 22 - Saturday November 24)
A live-scored film is one of the most affecting kinds of performances a punter could ever hope to witness – a virtual reality one could be life-changing. Stephanie Peters has created a 20-minute virtual reality film live-scored by art-rockers Fierce Mild so immersive, only two people can experience it at a time. Engaging all five senses (yes, even taste and smell), you are guided by a mysterious man through a virtual dystopian rural Australian landscape. What this will feel like is only the subject of speculation, but adjectives like fear, awe, confusion, and isolation feel right.
The full program for Melbourne Music Week is here, running from Friday November 16 - Saturday November 24 across various venues.