One in four performing artists have attempted or considered suicide. More than one in three performing artists, and one in four industry support workers, report mental health problems (Entertainment Assist, 2014). Think about the last band you listened to, or the last gig you went to. A four person band? At least one person from that band has had a struggle with mental illness.
Contemplate these figures, alongside the recent and tragic passing of Chris Cornell, and the critical need for actions to raise money and awareness of mental health issues becomes apparent. Tune Out 2017 fell less than a week from the shocking loss of last week, held with the aim to open a dialogue surrounding mental illness through the sharing of stories and experiences, and to unite people to support the crucial work that headspace does.
The Tune Out event, organised by ACU Digital Media students, presented itself under the motto of ‘Reduce the stigma. Share the stories. Love the music.’ Each artist across the afternoon and evening contributed to the shared, positive atmosphere that was curated at The Bendigo Hotel on Sunday.
Footscray’s The Trepids kicked the day off, the folk-punk trio readying the crowd to “strap themselves in for some sad songs”. Their set demonstrated their implicit diversities, musicianship, and comedy – particularly when frontman Andrew Kinnear managed to faceplant into a cymbal midset.
More emotive tunes followed when Lukewarm Iced Tea took the stage, a four-piece band of recent high-school leavers, with surprising openness surrounding mental health and the confusion of transitional life stages. Fresh-faced with that certain uncertainty that only a teenager could possess, the group delivered distinctive folk punk-laced emo rock, with song writing abilities beyond their years. One guitarist in a Modern Baseball shirt, the other in a Moose Blood shirt, their musical influences were apparent, especially with the line ‘One day we’ll disappear/and none of this will even matter’.
Lou Davies writes some seriously chilled 60s-influenced rock, playing with four equally talented mates. Resplendent in a dad cap, colour coordinated sports jacket and laid-back demeanour, Lou was a little Mac DeMarco in both sound and style. Not a bad thing at all. In no hurry to get anywhere fast, the group slow-jammed it out in a very Sunday afternoon appropriate style.
I can’t stress enough how refreshing the next act were. Three male musicians taking the stage to play alternative music, and not a single one Caucasian. A three piece of bass, drums and vocals, Animus were not only diverse in members, but also unique in their sound, bringing a classic grunge-rock sound; an interplay between heavy and light. The set was rounded out with a heartfelt acoustic cover of Chris Cornell’s “Like A Stone”, which was as emotional as you could imagine.
Shiver Canyon was an unexpected interlude to follow, with a powerful voice and nearly haunting trip-hop drenched sound. With a remarkably simple synth set-up, she explored dream pop and avant-garde electronica as she flicked between guitar and synth.
More chilled-out vibes from female artists continued, with Rosie & Githmi taking the stage, an acoustic guitar-ukelele combo. Their angelic, blissed out music is pretty damn glorious. Experimental rock trio AZTX shook everyone out of the blissful reverie, their grunge-tinged rock bouncing across rollicking jams, and guitar tones to rival King Gizzard rearing up throughout the set.
The highlight of the day were horror-punk four piece Horace Bones, who are one of my favourite Melbourne punk acts around. With one of the most terrifying front men around, the set was dripping in raw energy, rippling guitar distortion driving off evil from the depths of hell. A predatory emanation of a bass player in Dern Cockburn drove along their pysch-tinged set, which was devastatingly too short – Oisin Kelly (vocalist/guitars) had only just taken his shirt off.*
After Horace Bones drove the packed band room to a nearly sacrificial point, the organisers took to the stage to draw the focus back to what the day was about – reducing the stigma of mental health. The influential role of music in everyone’s lives was addressed; as an outlet, as a way to communicate, a place to feel belonging, and as something fundamental to being human. And, surrounded by friends, fans and figures of the Melbourne music community, that point was felt and reiterated across the room.
The long day was rounded out with The Mochasins and Black Bats, and maybe a few sandwiches from The Gasometer’s kitchen, The Glory Hole. The Mochasins saw Githmi return to the stage, this time on bass, the four-piece delivering an emotionally raw set of disjointed, grungy indie rock. Black Bats were again a line up that wasn’t all male, delivering doomy, psych drenched surf rock vibes, and rounding out with a cover of “I Wanna Be Your Dog”.
The organisers returned to supplant us with more gratitude, especially toward the amazing bands that played, as well as headspace Collingwood, for the amazing work that they do. Through donations and entry, the Tune Out team were able to raise over $3000 to donate to headspace – all going towards the very important role of youth mental health support. And remember what Tune Out is all about – working together to: Reduce the stigma. Share the stories. Love the music.
*(We’ve got an interview with the Horace Bones boys we’ll be sneaking out this week – stay tuned to find out more about the loosest cannons in Melbourne).
If you are experiencing mental health issues, suicidal feelings, or have been affected by the content in this article, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, or BeyondBlue on 1300 224 636.