How events like Sydney’s Old Mate’s Block Party prove the live scene is far from dead

The state of live music has been one of contention recently, especially within Australian culture, where various scenes have been going through stages of flux. Some good, some bad. Sydney in particular has been going through it, and going through it quite obviously. In the eyes of the rest of the country, the city has become a shadow of its former self; the athletic, over-achieving cousin who got injured and missed the rest of the season.

Still, in light of the lock out laws, venue shut downs and a general feeling of, ‘Where can I see new bands in town?’, The Lockhearts decided to pull up their bootstraps and show em. The Old Mate’s Block Party has grown into a little mammoth of its own and now is hitting Marrickville for another year. Incorporating Sydney bands and some special visitors from over the Victorian border, the event is going to provide punters the opportunity to see some of their mates on stage and potentially find their new favourites along the way.

“There is a thirst for live music [in Sydney],” Wolves in Fashion tell us. “In some ways, people can kind of bottle up that thirst and go completely all out. You see that with larger festivals, but I think Old Mate’s is a perfect microcosm of the Sydney scene.”

“Sydney is a city still in love with live music.” CJ of Kvlts of Vice adds. “The passion is still there and Old Mate’s Block Party is a prime example of that. The reception last year was incredibly positive and we feel it definitely helped spur a lot of people on and stoke fires of enthusiasm amongst musicians and fans alike. People were inspired to get involved however they could.”

A difference in music scene, noticeable difference, is felt in Melbourne too. The Bitter Sweethearts’ vocalist and guitarist Liam Whelan remembers what it was like growing up in Melbourne and then exploring it as a musician now.

“The major difference between the scene then – about seven years ago – and now is musicians are more unified. Venues closing means we musicians are sticking together and staring down those associations of professional whingers who would shut us down to build apartments and shopping malls. Adversity is the grandmother of invention. I’m incredibly proud of Sydney music right now, and bollocks to anyone who says otherwise. We’re killing it.”

“Honestly, anyone who thinks there’s no music being made, or who thinks they’re lacking in options just isn’t trying hard enough.” He adds. “When we started, we gigged three or four nights of the week. The Lockhearts spent over a year playing a weekly residency. I go to see bands every week, and I have a great time! Old Mate’s is like one of those sampler CDs you used to get with Mojo or Classic Rock magazine, except even better because it’s live and there’s alcohol and food.”

Events like Old Mate’s are also a great example of a platform utilised by local bands (brilliantly, I’ll add) to test out new music and introduce themselves to a crowd of complete newcomers.

“We’ve actually been working on a couple of new songs to throw in the mix!” Jill Reeve of The Persian Drugs says of their show tomorrow. “We’re also really keen to see some of our interstate mates – we played with Uptown Ace in Melbourne and had a great time with those guys.”

“[We’re] looking forward to getting album number two out and getting on the road with some mates,” Uptown Ace add. “I definitely see people heading out to their local for gigs more often and it’ll be exciting to be playing alongside some really awesome bands coming out. All killer, no filler.”

Jagger of Moon is looking to playing with some legends. “We have a very memorable show that we put on, and I’m glad I’m not just playing with boring adults, I’m playing with legends that also have a sense of humour.”

This coming from a teenage drummer who is insanely talented.

If anything, events like the Old Mate’s Block Party have proven that the live music environment is surging in its accessibility and is welcoming more than ever. Long may it continue to be so. The shows don’t need to be dripping in extravagance or over the top bawdiness. It can be far simpler, but equally as effective, as The Persian Drugs suggest.

“[Expect] six people on stage having a really good time.”


The Old Mate’s Block Party is at the Factory Theatre in Sydney on January 28th. Grab your tickets and more information here.


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