The Year That Was: Looking back on the virtual gigs that got us through 2020

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The Year That Was: Looking back on the virtual gigs that got us through 2020

Words by Benjamin Lamb

A look back at the weirdest year in music.

As we all know by now, 2020 was an interesting year for live music. The end of March saw restrictions put in place, limits on crowds, and the temporary end of gigs. But Aussies are an inventive bunch, industry professionals and fans alike organised  Instagram streams, at home festivals and a bevy of other cool stuff. Let’s dive in to some of the best music moments of 2020.


One of the coolest inventions came in the form of Isol-Aid, a weekly, live Instagram festival, showcasing some of the best and newest music from Australia and across the globe. Acts like Courtney Barnett, Didirri and Asgeir were involved Each week, a bevy of musicians would come together, one after the other like a real festival, to give fans a much needed dose of live music. 

Delivered Live!

A joint effort between the Vic Gov and The Handshake Agency, Delivered Live brought back pub gigs to Saturday Nights. Hosted by musician Henry Wagons, each night would be like a mini festival, with comedians and a handful of bands and artists from a variety of different genres.

While the stream was happening, there’d be opportunities to win some cool prizes and buy merch – giving punters that much needed local gig vibe.

The Sound

This ABC series showcased some of the greatest musicians alongside some young up and comers, like Lime Cordiale and The Rubens. On top of performances filmed in these acts homes, ABC’s vault was dived into, showing fans some of the rarest and coolest performances captured from years gone by. Some pretty awesome guests hosts featured alongside Aussie music mainstay Jane Gazzo, such as Triple J’s Bridget Hustwaite, Radio host Zan Rowe, and even Russell Crowe!

YouTube Music Sessions 

YouTube Music Sessions was an awesome effort by the juggernaut, alongside ARIA, allowed music fans from across the world and back home to discover the best in new Aussie music. With festivals like SXSW usually being a starting point for Aussies into the global music scene, Youtube Music Sessions was a great alternative. 

Sydney Opera House Sessions

Australia’s most well-known venue went back in their vault and collected some of the best performances from over the years, their Netflix style website features ‘Unmissable full length performances, live recordings and never-before-seen footage from the Opera House archives’  as they put it. There’s some really cool performances on there that are worth checking out, featuring everyone from international juggernauts Four Tet and Underworld through to local cult faves like Total Control and Gordi.

Vault Sessions

Filmed at an empty Hamer Hall, Vault Sessions featured musicians with a message behind their music; Alice Skye, Ziggy Ramo and Cash Savage And The Last Drinks. Each act dressed the stage exactly how they wanted it, and played a gig as if there was a full crowd to ensure the sessions worked out fine. It was a pretty cool initiative from the Arts Centre in Melbourne that truly gave a voice to those who needed one, especially during the middle of Melbourne’s brutal COVID lockdown.

Music From The Home Front

The biggest virtual experience came on ANZAC day earlier this year, where every Aussie musician you can think of came together to create one of the biggest moments in Aussie music history. Broadcast live on Channel 9, the Mushroom and Frontier Touring-helmed initiative beamed acts like Tame Impala, Lime Cordiale and DMA’s into homes across the country, exposing them to new audiences and providing countless fans with a healthy dosage of live music.

Revisit all the highs and lows of the Australian music industry throughout 2020 here.