Sydney artists lock-in some of their fave venues for you to visit
Some Sydney hops to get down in from the people who know.
The lockout laws, they’re controversial, a pain in the arse if you want to stay out and have single-handedly united voices over the closure of venues in Sydney. If you have an interest in the Australian music press it isn’t hard to see an article on the lockouts most weeks - and for good reason, they're a blight on the cultural vibe of the city (and soon to be Brisbane). We decided to talk with some of the vast array voices in the Sydney music scene about the wide range of venues being pummelled by the lockouts. And while voicing your disapproval about them on social media, signing petitions, and going to rallies are massively important (there's one coming up, IN FACT) - don't forget to make sure you get out there each weekend, get down a bit earlier than you might like, and support some of your favourite venues - lockout zone or not:
The Civic Underground - Elizabeth Rose and Cosmo's Midnight
Elizabeth Rose: “Oh the Civic …the very first time I went to Civic Underground for a club show was for my brother (Hook'N'Sling)'s single launch back in 2008 for his single The Best Thing. This was also coincidentally my first time in a licensed venue as a newly-turned 18 year old. Then earlier this year the Civic was home to my Discotheque tour show. Hearing news of so many Sydney venues closing is making me very concerned for the future of live music on our shores. From an artists perspective it saddens me because it’s so important to have these small venues who support local talent because many of them are the birth place for a lot of successful acts!"
^Punters at Civic Underground for Cosmo's Midnight earlier this year by Life Without Andy.
Cosmo Liney (CM): "A great venue we'd recommend is the Civic Underground. The sound quality is one of the best I've experienced in Sydney (without having to bring in any extra speakers) and has an intimate size so the crowd feels truly part of the event. I've seen many acts there such as Shlohmo, Cashmere Cat, DJ EZ just to name a few. Although Civic is still affected by lock-out this is a great venue to book shows that are almost guaranteed to sell out and keep the crowd inside the venue until the event is over. To be honest lock-outs and strict licensing laws has put a massive vice around event creativity, forcing bookers to put shows on at the same unsuitable venues. Although the Civic is great to put on successful shows, we need more diversity in our venues!"
Black Wire Records - David James Young (Independent Journalist/founder of All My Friends Are in Bar Bands)
^ Psy Ants at Black Wire Records in 2012 by Liza Grace.
"Black Wire Records is an independent record store by day and makeshift venue by night. Practically every weekend, the place is bursting with the sounds of what can ostensibly fall under the umbrella of outsider music. The kind of music that'd be considered too loud, too quiet, too weird, too emotional, too aggressive, too experimental, too outspoken by your average punter. Then again, Black Wire's never been a place that celebrates the average. It's been home to early gigs from bands like The Smith Street Band and Luca Brasi; as well as hosting international acts like Ceremony, Rolo Tomassi and Joyce Manor. Being an all-ages and BYO venue, the community surrounding it is tight-knit and inclusive. If you're in the Annandale area on a Friday or Saturday night, take a chance and see what Black Wire has to offer. You never know what you might find. Just make sure you're there on time – shows have been selling out more frequently as of late; and there's no worse feeling than missing out on a night at Black Wire."
The Cliff Dive - Mike Who
"The Cliff Dive is a tropical Oasis smack bang in the middle of Oxford St in Darlinghurst. It's an awesome little space, run by a good crew and it get's super busy on Friday and Saturday nights. Music wise they push everything from new rap to up to the time dancehall all the way through obscure tropical jams, with each week changing up depending on who is booked. Some of the bigger nights would be Kato and the Homies Monthly Saturday as well as Bare Necessities Monthly night that pushes tunes from Africa and Latin America via the rest of the world. It's always a vibe and free before 11pm so doesn't hurt your wallet. Come through get cosy in a booth or stay till late."
Brighton Up Bar - Dom O’Connor (Booker at World Bar, Laneway Festival, plays in Jody)
^ Peter Bibby at Brighton Up Bar earlier this year by Across The Ocean.
"Brighton Up Bar is a ridiculously important part of Sydney music. Non disclosure: I work and have worked for places that would be considered their competitors, in terms of being another 100 capacity room in the CBD/City. But the reality is, in the world I inhabit when it comes to working in music, you don't really have competitors - Just other people trying to do the same thing as you; give bands a place to play, give bands lots to drink and get them decently paid. I've only played one show at Brighton Up before, but it was ludicrously enjoyable, and ludicrously sweaty. The reason why I love it so much is because whilst it's seen as traditionally a place where bookers and managers put bands on their first Sydney shows (Courtney Barnett, Sunbeam Sound Machine), it's not just a 'cool kid' venue where you have to have a manager to get a show. I've seen a lot of shows at Brighton Up, and I'd be lying if I said I enjoyed all of them. But that's not what a small venue is about. It's about providing a stage for bands to play their first show to a couple of their school friends and a parent or two, just as it's much about giving interstate bands a room to play as well and bands playing ludicrously rammed sold out shows. So Brighton Up, you're great- keep doing what you're doing, and I'll see you for a tinnie soon."
Jam Gallery - Dena Amy
"Recently I spent an amazing night watching Miguel Campbell play one of the best DJ sets I've heard in ages. The set was perfect but what amplified my experience was the quality sound system and vibe at Jam Gallery. I was so excited by the layout of the club space, I had enough room to enjoy myself but I still felt that Boiler Room intimacy the moment I stepped onto the dancefloor. In fact anywhere I stood the sound could be felt. I've also been really impressed by the line-ups curated by Jam, the audience always seems to be filled with patrons there for only one reason! The music! That's the kinda of crowd I love playing to or being surrounded by."
The Basement - Thundamentals
Jesse MC Jeswon: "I feel like The Basement is a venue that should gain more attention as a result of the lock-out laws. The acts they put on at the venue are always quality and quite eclectic. I’ve seen everything from stand up comedy to choirs there. Plus, historically, they’ve had big hip hop acts like Freddie Gibbs earlier this year, and other greats like DJ Premier, DJ Krush and Questlove have come through over the years. I guess it doesn't immediately come to mind because it is kind of tucked away down in Circular Quay, but in reality it is very accessible by public transport and I can imagine it seeing more punters coming through as a result of the lock-outs."
Chippendale Hotel - Andy Garvey (FBi Radio)
"From the outside it looks like a pretty standard, inner-city pub, but The Chippendale Hotel is currently home to a plethora of high-class sonic explorations. It was only since the recent lockout laws that I actually stepped foot within the venue and uncovered its hidden gem, an underground cavern – perfect for a sneaky weekend rave. Local crews Picnic, Chipped and Heavenly have begun throwing semi-regular parties here – all of which present line-ups supporting our local selectors and showcasing international talent. A few weeks back I saw Maurice Fulton seamlessly cut disco hits with techno bangers in the underground den. Next was Sleep D + Luis CL for the last Heavenly party which wrapped up with bright lights and whirling synthesisers, in the very best kind of way. Both gigs kicked off mid-arvo and were wrapped up by midnight, therefore safe from the ever-draining lockout law pressures. The next show I’m most excited about is the incoming Chipped 2nd Birthday with a line-up full of local legends. See yu on da d-floor?"
Red Rattler - Victoria Kim
"The Red Rattler in Marrickville is perfect. It goes through waves, but it is always at its peak. Run by a good bunch, tucked away in the Inner West, with long hours and an average sound system. That’s all you need. I played a vogue ball there with Bhenji Ra and his dance crew SLÉ. It turned into a raw runway battle with crews from every corner of greater Sydney death dropping each other. And then the EVE parties (there have only been two)... deep and ravey, which have been blessed with sets by Strict Face and Air Max ’97. I lost my best jacket there. They held onto it for four weeks until I decided to pick it up. What else can I say? They’re nice people."
The Lord Gladstone - One Day Crew and Sticky Fingers
Nick Lupi (One Day): "Sydney is lucky to still have a number of venues which are continuing to breathe life into the party scene and late-night economy; one of our favourites is The Lord Gladstone at Chippendale, which has emerged as one of Sydney’s hottest new venues. The One Day Entertainment office is also upstairs at The Glad which is, believe it or not, incredibly effective. The Gladstone has pictures of Sticky Fingers and DMAs on one wall, and a collage of rappers on another. Usually you have the latest hip-hop on tastefully throughout the day, but getting louder every Friday night when Joyride curates Good Friends. There’s also been a bunch of Sydney indie bands come through to play secret shows, plus a bit of pop punk and metalcore will occasionally make its way through the speakers. And if you’re sick of being told by middle aged, out-of-touch politicians the strict conditions under which you can have a good time, if you’re tired of an entire city’s culture nightlife suffering as punishment for the idiotic actions of a few, then One Day Only is the party for you. One Day Only is a party for the ages. The time is now."
^ One Day Sundays last time they threw a party in Sydney.
Paddy Cornwall (SF): "We tend to hang out at The Lord Gladstone a lot in Chippendale. It’s just a very welcoming pub and I know if I was well and truly down and out I could probably rock up at the Lorde Gladstone and they would let me. But all in all it’s just a good pub. If you're after just having a beer and maybe you’re trying your luck to pick up beautiful people then this might be the pub for you. There’s also of the best kept secrets in Chinese food across the road, it’s attached to the petrol station that almost appears to be the carriage of a train but you know it’s good because all the cabbies are lined up and down the street - they know what’s good. The DJs that you hear aren’t really DJs but rather locals who drink there and are asked after awhile to take control of the music. It’s got a really great community vibe to it and a good crowd.
^ Don't let Sydney be a ghost town this weekend, get out there and have a pint with ya mates!
And also there's another RECLAIM THE STREETS rally happening on December 12, so if you're in Sydney why not HEAD ALONG.