distant and vague


Month: April, 2012

SLAM, Bam, Thank You Mam!

SLAM; Save Live Australian Music.

I guess that’s what this blog is about. How can we save what’s happening to our live music scene? Although this is a focus on Sydney, it wouldn’t be all that clever to not add SLAM somewhere in here.
SLAM was created from a series of  Melbourne music goers including venue owners, musicians and music lovers. On February 23rd, 2010, SLAM constructed a protest that strung twenty thousand people together in a rally to oppose the ‘misguided policy link between live music and violence’ that the Victorian government had conducted.
It was the largest cultural protest Australia has ever seen.

Successful in their battle, the organisation has gone nation-wide as they aim to render Australia’s live music scene. On the lead up to the rally’s two-year anniversary, SLAM produced Save Live Australian Music day. Every state over Australia took part in the day as a comment to help save small venues across Australia in order to keep the Australian music scene alive.
The media’s response to SLAM day was substantial, promoting the day on their own website, in street magazines, on the radio (such as FBi), via social networking sites (ie Twitter and Facebook) and on billboards.
New South Wales’ list of venues that took part and booked bands for SLAM can be found here.

SLAM most definitely increases the awareness of everyday communication with just the rally itself. The outcome of the protest was extremely significant as it is now recognised as a part of Australia’s history. The media was all over this with articles and radio broadcasts.
SLAM’s message has been exemplified, as the organisation continues to lead Australia’s live music scene in the supposedly right direction through the use of SLAM day.
Without the media’s influence and the public sphere’s contribution, the organisation would not have gone far with this project as the recipients would either not know about it or would not take what its message was saying seriously. It is due to its hype and prosperity that it is where it is today.

‘Dale’s Bricks

Familiar with this? Thought so.

Just like the how the Hopetoun was, Sydney’s Inner West’s Annandale Hotel is too struggling as a live music venue. This is due to ongoing problems and expenses with the Council, as mentioned two years ago on FasterLouder, when the problems had just began to arise. Luckily for the owners, Matthew and Daniel Rule, the venue still has its doors open, though its lifespan as a venue remains unknown. In order to stay alive, the Rule brothers have proposed to their punters the “Buy A Brick” campaign. It was designed to raise money and awareness for the hotel in order for Sydney to prevent losing yet another cherished live music venue.
The media has been flexible with selling the campaign to society by advertising the campaign in magazines, on the Annandale’s own website, social networking sites (ie Twitter, Facebook), billboards and even conducting gigs to help save the ‘Dale. One very clever method of informing their audience was through the Hitler parody posted at the start of this write-up. This is a very effective approach as the original exert is becoming more and more recognised due to the amount of different parodies it has inspired (‘Hitler Finds Out The Annandale Isn’t Closing’ being one). Furthermore, the video has been posted on YouTube which is globally recognised as a very popular video site.

Political and musical figure Peter Garrett has jumped on board the campaign, edging readers to become part of the attempt to ‘save the Dale’. Garrett states,
“I’m going to buy a brick and I really hope that lots of other people will too, including [older] people … whose younger days were completely shaped by the music they listened to and they loved.”

Garrett added,
“I think that just as we love going out and watching our footy, it’s a part of our culture to go out and watch our bands. But it’s fallen away to some extent over the last decade or so … the venues themselves have struggled to survive and there’s been real pressures on them. We need to really lift our effort in Sydney to make sure, whether someone’s playing beats and doing stuff that is brand new and all-digital or whether they’re playing rhythm and blues, that they’ve got a place to do their thing and people can see them up close.” (via Sydney Morning Herald).

Through the use of such an admirable public figure stating that the campaign is indeed legit and manageable, it sits well with society to become a part of the campaign by contributing what they can in order for the Annandale Hotel to continue offering live music in Sydney. Furthermore, this use of media has increased the awareness of the issue that Sydney’s live music scene is suffering.

One final example of how the media has increased the awareness of the issue is through street magazine The Drum Media. Describing itself as “Sydney’s Largest Circulating Free Music Publication”, Annandale’s “Buy a Brick” campaign is advertised in a magazine that couldn’t be any more relevant. This use of advertising increases the awareness of the issue to the right audience as it is something that only music lovers will take part in.


Date of death: 28th September, 2009.
It was a tragic day for all music lovers around Sydney to see Surry Hills’ Hopetoun “Hoey” Hotel close it’s doors for the final time. A very abrupt closure left fans emotional and bands that were booked to play lost as the scrappy piece of paper left on the door of the venue vaguely announced its departure from the live music scene. The sudden departure caused a stir in the local media as it was a treasured venue loved by many Sydneysiders.
Almost immediately the media was flooded with articles, forums, radio broadcasts and even a dedicated blog and Twitter account in response to the venue’s closure.

It was this misspelt note that was photographed and posted on many forums (such as Polaroids of Androids) that added to the dreaded authenticity of the story released in the media of September, 2009:

From looking at the amount of media presented, both presenters and punters of the venue were able to collaborate in discussion and share information that they knew of the hotel’s sudden disbandment. Just like a domino effect, the media baffled citizens of Sydney causing them to talk to one another all over social networking, public forums, etc. Alongside what the media had already offered, this use of this interaction increased the awareness of what was happening (and is still happening) to Sydney’s live music scene. Apparently due to the council as explained in @savethehoey’s tweet, Sydney music fans were confronted with a shocking tale. The worst part is that it was just the beginning of what was to come for Sydney’s live music scene; a devolution.

The Hopetoun is just one sad case where a music venue has been forced to close its doors. Another (more recent) story is to do with Strawberry Hills’ Gaelic Theatre. As of April 1st, 2012, the Gaelic has decided to stop offering live entertainment and to focus on being more of a restaurant than a music venue. It is through material such as the Drum Media street magazine that the citizens of Sydney are finding out the brutal stories of how their favourite live music venues are either completely or partially closing down.

It is vital that bands have venues to play at in order to keep Sydney’s music scene alive; therefore if venues are closing down, bands become more and more limited on where they are capable of playing sets to their fans. It is through the information provided by the media that enables the public sphere to be able to carry on discussion and debate on how to fix such problems. Without multimedia informing society on what is happening in our city, music lovers of Sydney would not hold the knowledge of the endangered live music scene.

So I’ll leave you with this-a video of You Am I playing the Hopetoun in 1991. I have made note of the comments linked to the video to prove to you how important the live music scene is to punters of Sydney as feelings of adoration and appreciation for the now closed-down venue have been expressed.


Why did the Hopetoun close down? Why did the Gaelic suddenly stop offering live music from their well-established venue? Why is the Annandale suggesting that their punters ‘buy a brick’? How do we even know about any of this?
Music lovers of Sydney know that our local live music scene is indeed not as prominent as it used to be in its ‘heyday’. Venues are being forced to either completely or partially close down which leave bands very limited on where to express themselves authentically to their loyal fans. But the question still remains the same; how do we know?

Distant and Vague is a blog dedicated to the exploration of how our media and the influence of the alternative public sphere in popular culture has educated and explored this ongoing issue in a sector of Sydney’s entertainment life and what has been done to prevent it from completely kicking the bucket. It will explore the multimedia of our public sphere to vividly express how the issue has increased awareness of everyday communication experiences and practices by how it is presented in the media. Such mediums explored range from broadcast media (ie radio), print media (ie Billboards, magazines) and online media (ie websites, social networking).