Collingwood’s free, funky LOJO Festival promises a day of disco madness

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Collingwood’s free, funky LOJO Festival promises a day of disco madness

Get ready to boogie down because Lower Johnston Street is about to transform into a disco wonderland with the highly anticipated third annual LOJO Festival, kicking off on Sunday, March 24th and lasting well into the night.

This year,  businesses in Abbotsford and Collingwood are teaming up to bring you a sensational celebration of food, culture, and music that will keep you dancing from dawn till dusk.

Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

With more than 40 businesses participating in and around Lower Johnston Street, you can expect a dazzling array of disco-themed decorations and infectious beats that will transport you back to the groovy era of the 70s.

Thanks to the generous support of the City of Yarra, this year’s festival promises to be bigger and better than ever before, with an expanding lineup of participating venues eager to light up the night.

 

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Dress to impress because Lower Johnston Street will be the catwalk of disco fashion. Whether you’re strutting your stuff in the Best Dressed competition at Bodriggy or getting your locks glammed up with disco-inspired hairstyles at Berry Hair Studio, there’s no shortage of opportunities to showcase your style.

And for those looking to make a bold statement, Hack Tatts will be offering flash tattoos to commemorate your disco fever.

As the sun sets, Collingwood comes alive with Gilbee’s hosting live music from disco groups alongside delectable disco-themed food and drink specials. Need a little liquid courage to unleash your inner diva? Thin Slizzy’s World’s Worst Karaoke offers drink specials that’ll have you belting out tunes like Diana Ross in no time.

But the festivities aren’t just for humans – bring your furry friends along for the ride! House of Plants is hosting an Italo disco party complete with a doggy runway because, after all, why should humans have all the fun? Plus, many venues along Johnston Street will have special accommodations for your four-legged pals, including seating and plenty of pats to go around.

Throughout the day, DJs and live bands will be igniting the stage at various venues. Whether you’re grooving to Benny James and The Allstar Retreat House Rocking Band at The Retreat or enjoying rotating disco-themed DJs at Nighthawks while sipping on retro concoctions, there’s something for everyone.

Get ready to disco down in Lower Johnston Street – it’s going to be a funkadelic!

More information on LOJO Festival here.

‘It is killing us all’: How a 400% increase in insurance costs is slowly destroying Melbourne’s live music scene

In 2022, as venues navigated their respective ways out of the COVID morass, reports began appearing about venues being slugged with massive increases in the cost of their public liability insurance.

For the uninitiated, public liability insurance exists to protect businesses against claims resulting from incidents occurring as a result of business activities. If you run a café and a customer slips and falls on the floor, that’s where PL insurance comes into play.

Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

However, the insurance market has found itself impacted by a myriad of global events in recent years, leading to an increase in premiums, which flows into a lack of customers purchasing insurance and fewer providers in the market.

As a result, fewer insurers are offering PL insurance to businesses such as live music venues, or offering heavily increased premiums that are leaving venue owners to rethink their position in the music scene. Notably – as venues such as The Old Bar have noted – new insurance policies have seen them forced to ban drinking while dancing in the bandroom, lest a punter injures themselves by slipping on the carpeted floor. 

Despite the time between reports, no respite has arrived and premiums continue to increase at dizzying rates.

One venue that has seen an increase in PL costs is Belgrave’s Sooki Lounge, with co-owner Stephen Crombie noting that costs of premiums have risen from $7,000 to $60,000 in the last two-and-a-half years.

For Sooki Lounge, premiums rose from $12,500 to $50,000 in one year alone, despite the venue not making a single claim in the last ten years. That happened while the number of insurers willing to insure the venue has dwindled from eight to one in the last decade. Bluntly, “it is killing us all,” Crombie said.

“Put simply, the rising costs mean an inability to be able to financially operate,” he explains, looking at the measures the venue is forced to take to minimise risk. “We already have a risk management policy, use plastics, employ extra guards, and have a security scanner in place.”

With venues forced to take drastic measures – that can affect their very ways of operating – just to appease insurance providers, what does this mean for the future of the industry? According to Crombie, it could spell the death of the music scene if drastic action isn’t taken.

“Electronic events will go underground with no supervision, more bands will play house parties, and most bands will find themselves with nowhere to play,” he predicts for the short term. The long term, however, could result in live venues under a capacity of 500 ceasing to operate within the next two to three years.

David “Frankie” Cudmore, co-owner of Brunswick’s Bergy Seltzer, says the rising costs will hurt the smallest venues the most.

I know some venues where it is 50 people that will fit in there and for them, it’s like, what’s the point? You can’t make enough money off 50 people to cover the insurance costs, so that’s where it’s going to hurt. And that’s probably the dangerous thing because that’s where people learn how to play, they practise, that’s where they cut their teeth.”

He says he’s baffled that music venues have suddenly been determined to be high risk by insurance companies because during his 15 years of booking bands, he’s never once had an insurance claim for live music. The rising insurance costs have forced him to rethink alcohol prices and stage fees, among others.

It’s really squeezing the pennies. You’ve got to really find your profit margin somewhere else,” says Cudmore.

“We know that live music venues aren’t the most profitable thing, but it’s something we love to do. We’ve always been able to do that in some kind of way where we are making a living, but now it’s become really hard to make ends meet.”

Similar to his peers, he thinks government intervention and a more “common sense approach” is necessary to save local venues.

Come and look at the space, and realise that there might be some people wiggling their butt, but they’re not going nuts – it’s not like that at all. Even the heavier shows that we do have, the metal and hardcore shows, you just sit there and watch them. And sure, they do get a bit physical, but they’re all laughing and hugging and having a good time afterwards.”

Brunswick Ballroom venue director Will Ewing says the inflated insurance costs are coming at a particularly bad time for music venues.

I think every venue that I know of was paying insurance throughout COVID, so it was pretty heartbreaking that when we opened back up again insurance skyrocketed for so many venues,” he says.

With a post-pandemic glut in the market, a flood of international acts back into Melbourne and cost of living pressures squeezing punters, the added insurance fees are making the situation untenable for many venue owners. Ewings says his own insurance broker told him the live music industry needs government intervention – “If an insurance broker is telling you that, that’s saying something, don’t you think?”

In late 2022, a new app was touted as being the solution to these problems. Announced by the Australian Live Music Business Council, the app was designed to collect all the information that insurers would need to assess applications. Brokers would then use the data to match these businesses with underwriters who would be willing to insure them.

However, it seems as though the largest aspect of the crisis is still a need for change from the state and federal governments, to actively take an interest in the music scene and step in, recognise the industry’s value, and aid in its financial recovery.

As Crombie notes, the music industry needs the federal government to come in and underwrite the industry at a profit, and amend laws regarding liability within Australia. Whatever the case, it seems as though the only solution may be government intervention, or else we might begin to see the country’s most vibrant music scene faced with an unthinkable decline.

For more information on the app, visit the ALMBC website here. To contact your local member of parliament, head here.

Pearl Jam, Pixies add two new shows to Australia tour: ‘We still care about putting something out there’

Last week, Pearl Jam, the iconic alternative rock band hailing from Seattle, dropped a bombshell for fans worldwide. Their eagerly anticipated twelfth studio album, “Dark Matter”, will drop on April 19, 2024, accompanied by a massive global tour starting this May.

Now, they’ve added extra shows in Melbourne on November 18 and Sydney on November 23, giving fans another chance to see the grunge behemoths perform alongside foundational Boston indie rock band, The Pixies.

Pearl Jam Australia & New Zealand Tour Dates

  • Nov 8 – Go Media Stadium Mt Smart, Auckland
  • Nov 13 – Heritage Bank Stadium, Gold Coast
  • Nov 16 – Marvel Stadium, Melbourne
  • Nov 18 – Marvel Stadium, Melbourne
  • Nov 21 – Giants Stadium, Sydney
  • Nov 23 – Giants Stadium, Sydney 

Explore Melbourne’s latest arts and stage news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

Spanning nine countries and 25 cities, the global tour kicks off in Vancouver, British Columbia, and includes stops at iconic venues such as Wrigley Field, Madison Square Garden, and Fenway Park. For fans in the UK and Europe, the band will make a long-awaited return, with performances at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium among others.

Additionally, after a decade-long hiatus, Pearl Jam will grace the stages of New Zealand and Australia in November. The tour will kick off in NZ on 8 November, before heading to Gold Coast, Melbourne and finishing in Sydney.

The band’s previous album, “Gigaton,” took many by surprise with its raw, hard-hitting sound. According to the Associated Press, “Dark Matter” is set to push the boundaries even further, with SPIN describing it as “tailor-made for chanting and fist-pumping.”

Produced by multi-GRAMMY® award-winning producer Andrew Watt, “Dark Matter” promises to be a sonic journey unlike any other. The album was crafted during an intense three-week session at Shangri-La Studios in Malibu, where the band members, including Eddie Vedder, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, Mike McCready, and Matt Cameron, immersed themselves in the creative process.

Reflecting on the album, Vedder expressed his excitement, stating, “We’re at this time in our lives when you could do it or you could not do it, but we still care about putting something out there that is meaningful and we hopefully think is our best work.”

Ament echoed Vedder’s sentiments, highlighting the importance of the atmosphere created by producer Andrew Watt. “A lot of that had to do with the atmosphere Andrew set up. He has encyclopedic knowledge of our history, not only as a band and how we wrote songs, but as players.”

The album’s cover art, a stunning display of light painting, was crafted by Alexandr Gnezdilov, adding a visually captivating dimension to the release.

Supporting acts for the tour include Deep Sea Diver, Glen Hansard, The Murder Capital, Richard Ashcroft, and Pixies (for Australia), ensuring an unforgettable concert experience for fans.

With their unparalleled energy and dedication to their craft, Pearl Jam continues to captivate audiences around the globe.

Tickets for the tour will be available through exclusive presales for Ten Club members and a registration sale for general fans: More info at pearljam.com

Celebrate Lunar New Year at this thrilling Dragon Boat Festival on the Yarra River

The Melbourne Dragon Boat Festival is back for a riverside celebration of the Lunar New Year. On Sunday, February 25, experience the blend of tradition and adrenaline-pumping action as presented by Dragon Boat Victoria and City of Melbourne.

Set against the stunning backdrop of Victoria Harbour, Docklands, this festival promises a day of excitement and cultural celebration.

Melbourne Dragon Boat Festival 2024

  • Sunday, February 25
  • Victoria Harbour, Docklands
  • 9am to 4pm
  • Entry is free

Stay up to date with what’s happening in and around Melbourne here.

The Dragon Boat Festival, usually taking place on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar, is used to ward off misfortune and set the energy right.

Dragon boat racing has an ancient history in China, originating more than 2500 years ago. The tradition is said to have originated in commemoration of minister Qu Yuan, who drowned himself in the Miluo River because of his disappointment with the Monarch.

 

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To kick off the Melbourne festivities, the traditional eye dotting ceremony will awaken the dragons and bless the boats. Then, watch in awe as spectacular dragon boats glide through the waters to the rhythmic beat of drums, showcasing the remarkable teamwork and skill of the paddlers.

But the festival offers more than just exhilarating races. Join thousands of spectators cheering on the paddlers while enjoying cultural performances, a tug-of-war, traditional lion dances, family-friendly activities and delectable delights from food trucks.

Whether you’re a participant or a spectator, come and immerse yourself in the spirit of friendly competition and cultural festivities at the Dragon Boat Festival. Don’t miss this opportunity to celebrate tradition, community, and the ancient sport of dragon boating.

For more on the Melbourne Dragon Boat Festival, head here

St Kilda Blues Festival brings a New Orleans-style parade and free live music to the waterfront

The beloved St Kilda Blues Festival is right around the corner, set to deliver three big days of booming horns, groovy percussion and silky-smooth vocals.

Now in its sixth year, the festival’s vision is to bring the music and spirit of blues to one of Melbourne’s most beautiful neighbourhoods, for everyone to enjoy.

Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

 

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The latest edition, running from March 1 to 3, will feature more than 70 gigs in venues spread throughout St Kilda, spanning genres such as slide, fingerpicking, folk, punk, alternative, blues and country.

On the lineup this year, find heavy hitters including Hoodoo Mayhem, Dom Turner & The Rural Blues Project, Mike Rudd’s Spectrum, Geoff Achison & The Soul Diggers, Murray Cook’s Soul Movers and Rod Paine & The Fulltime Lovers.

All gigs are free and there’s so much to see – stroll down Fitzroy St and check out what’s happening at Ellora, Banff, Freddie Wimpoles or The Cross or wander Acland St to visit Abbey Rd, Jimmy O’Neils or the Acland Plaza. From the Bowlo to the Blessington St Stage, it’s blues all across the board.

And it’s not just tucked away in the venues – the energy will pour out into the streets. On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, the yearly Street Swamp Second Line offers a party in the park, featuring travelling funk and brass bands and opportunities to boogie down with the whole family.

Taking inspiration from the city that created blues – New Orleans – the street parade is a Mardi Gras-like experience full of colour and song. Costumes are encouraged!

“The St Kilda Blues Festival is yet another reason to visit St Kilda, Victoria’s first Live Music Precinct. It’s fun, free and a great way to celebrate the timeless spirit of the blues at lively local venues,” Mayor Heather Cunsolo said.

To find out everything you need to know about the St Kilda Blues Festival, running from March 1 to 3, head here.

The best swimming holes near Melbourne

Maybe it’s the mischievousness surrounding the concept of the best swimming holes in Melbourne – is this allowed? Or maybe it’s the feeling of getting closer to nature, where the leeches grab at your legs and the reeds tickle your toes.

Victoria’s bestowed with an adventurous assortment of outdoor swimming retreats and we’ve got our hair wet to give you a guide to the cream of the crop – here are some of the best swimming holes near Melbourne.

Stay up to date with what’s happening in and around Melbourne here.

Blackwood Pool

The Werribee Gorge is one of Melbourne’s most convenient exploratory refuges. Just an hour’s drive away, there’s endless trekking opportunities and as the Werribee River runs it’s course through luscious grasslands, there’s plenty of openings to take a dip when perspiration’s immersed the brow. At the top of the list, comes the gorge’s largest swimming hole, Blackwood Pool. Home to native wildlife with platypi aplenty, this spot will give you the chance to come face to face with nature. Dive in.

Lake Daylesford

Due to contamination, many of Victoria’s lakes are deemed unfit for swimming. Yet, there are still some diving treasures alive to capture your wildest imagination. At the foothills of the Great Dividing Range lies the charming town of Daylesford, which, alongside its Hepburn neighbour, holds enough opportunity in itself.

Nevertheless, it’s the lake just a hop, skip and jump from central Vincent Street that’ll excite your budgy smugglers. Grab a hamper and sit on the lakeside grasses, ready to make your move when the post-lunch food belly subsides.

 

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Tronoh Dredge Hole

For years, the Tronoh Dredge Hole has been an ideal retreat for Harrietville locals during the beaming summer months. Lying at the foot of Mt Feathertop, you’re just a stone’s throw away from the imitable town of Bright and adjoining alpine ranges.

Ideal for a weekend getaway, take a dive in the Tronoh Dredge Hole and then immerse yourself in what Mount Beauty, Mount Buffalo and Falls Creek has to offer. The swimming hole’s got its own pontoon for those who like to dip and then rest and bask in the sun.

Lerderderg Gorge

Less than an hour from Melbourne, the Lerderderg River has done some work to carve out a 300m gorge through wandering forest. This meandering tributary and rising tree-line makes up the Lerderderg State Park which is the perfect summer retreat for city slickers who get homesick at a moment’s notice.

There’s plenty of walking trails snaking through the park and it’s the convenience of having the guiding river just a step away that’ll compel you take a dip whenever you like.

Venus Baths

There are a number of fantastic swimming opportunities within the Grampians. Mackenzie Falls has been deemed unsafe for swimming due to some drownings, however, Burrong Falls has made up for the loss with it’s multi-tiered waterfall system.

Yet, when talking about serene beauty and proven safety, Venus Baths is right up there with Victoria’s best. Ideal for fervent younglings and level-headed adults alike, this swimming hole wanders through a series of rock formations making for a striking panorama.

 

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Polly McQuinns

Folklore has it that an erratic settler Polly McQuinns went for a dip one drunken night without understanding his swimming incapability.

Unfortunately, his treading water technique didn’t hold up and the overzealous colonist went down fighting. What precedes a historical tale is endless swimming allure. Propel off the purpose-built diving board or immerse yourself in the rushing currents of the man-made waterfall – this retreat is the perfect summer getaway.

Ladies Bath Falls

As if Marilyn Monroe basked in its eloquent waters, Ladies Bath Falls is one of Victoria’s most scenic swimming bodies.

The location is guarded from the sun most of the day making for an especially chilly drop, nevertheless, there’s a placidness to this waterfall that makes it feel untouched. You’ll have to work for this one – climb over burgeoning boulders and your treasure chest awaits.

Laughing Waters

The most appropriate navigational venture from Melbourne is Laughing Waters. Residing a left turn from Warrandyte State Park in Eltham, this comedic splash and crash is part of the Yarra River, funnily enough.

Yes, the stream at Melbourne’s nexus is still a thing 20km out of the CBD. You can laugh all you like, but there’s no irony to this gorgeous lagoon. As a rocky outcrop pokes its head above the pillowy water, amicable ducklings come to say hey. Lay out your towel on the small beach for the post-swim sun lounge, this day’s going to be a long one.

Information in this article from The Guide To Freshwater Swimming Holes In Victoria has been adapted with permission from the author.

Metalcore sensations Banks Arcade announce Australia and New Zealand tour

Following two years of relentless touring and the recent drop of their EP, DEATH 2, Banks Arcade is gearing up to deliver a live experience that promises to be nothing short of legendary.

Kicking off their tour on May 17th in Auckland, Banks Arcade will traverse through cities like Wellington, Christchurch, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and finally wrapping up the tour in Brisbane on May 26th.

Banks Arcade DEATH 2 A Muse 2024 Tour

  • Friday 17 May 2024 – Tuning Fork, Auckland
  • Saturday 18 May 2024 – San Fran, Wellington
  • Sunday 19 May 2024 – Darkroom, Christchurch
  • Thursday 23 May 2024 – Lion Arts Factory, Adelaide
  • Friday 24 May 2024 – Max Watts, Melbourne
  • Saturday 25 May 2024 – Crow Bar, Sydney
  • Sunday 26 May 2024 – The Zoo, Brisbane

Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

With their latest EP in tow, the band is set to captivate audiences with a compilation of their greatest hits along with a sneak peek into what’s to come in 2024.

DEATH 2 is a testament to their evolution and exploration of new sonic territories. The EP not only showcases the band’s signature fusion of hard rock, electronic and metal but also delves into darker and heavier realms, marking a significant progression in their musical journey.

Banks Arcade has always been driven by a desire to make a mark in the music industry, and their passion and creativity shine through in every performance. With influences ranging from avant-garde to modern metal, the band has carved out a distinct identity since their inception, evident in their previous releases like Endnote, Fever Dreams and hit singles like Sick and Drown.

Their 2022 full-length album, Future Lovers, further solidified their unique style and garnered attention with its dynamic soundscapes and bold experimentation. The band’s relentless work ethic and captivating live shows have earned them opportunities to perform at prestigious events like UNIFY Off The Record and support slots for acclaimed acts such as Northlane.

As they embark on the Death 2 A Muse Tour, Banks Arcade invites fans to join them on a journey where death is only the beginning. With their electrifying performances and boundless creativity, this tour promises to be an unforgettable experience for metal enthusiasts across the region. Don’t miss your chance to witness Banks Arcade in their element this May!

Tickets on sale now from banksarcade.com

Missy Higgins announces 20th anniversary encore shows in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane

The Second Act Tour, spanning various cities and regional hubs, is a celebration of Missy Higgins’ illustrious career and a testament to her enduring popularity.

Due to overwhelming demand (32 dates have already sold out), she has just announced three encore shows set to take place at the end of her huge run of performances. What’s more, new shows in Adelaide and Darwin are expected to be announced in the coming months.

Missy Higgins The Second Act 2024 Tour

  • Mar 28 – Arts Centre, Frankston
  • Mar 29 – Civic Hall, Ballarat
  • Apr 9: Canberra Theatre, Canberra
  • Apr 10 – Canberra Theatre, Canberra
  • Apr 12 – State Theatre, Sydney
  • Apr 13: State Theatre, Sydney
  • Apr 14: State Theatre, Sydney
  • Apr 19 – Concert Hall, Perth
  • Apr 20: Concert Hall, Perth
  • Apr 26 – City Hall, Hobart
  • Apr 27 – Princess Theatre, Launceston
  • May 3 & 4 – Palais Theatre, St Kilda
  • May 5 –Palais Theatre, Melbourne
  • May 9 – MECC, Mackay
  • May 11 – Munro Martin Parklands, Cairns
  • May 12 – Civic Theatre, Townsville
  • May 17 – Ulumbarra Theatre, Bendigo
  • May 18 – Gippsland Performing Arts Centre, Traralgon
  • May 23: QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane
  • May 24 – QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane
  • Mar 25 – HOTA Outdoor Stage, Gold Coast
  • May 30: Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide
  • May 31 – Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide
  • Jun 1 – Barossa Arts Centre, Tanunda
  • Jun 7 _ Empire Theatre, Toowoomba
  • Jun 8 – The Events Centre, Caloundra
  • Jun 14 – Sydney Coliseum, Rooty Hill
  • Jun 15 – Civic Theatre, Newcastle
  • Jun 16 – Newcastle Civic Theatre, Newcastle
  • Jun 22 – Palais, Melbourne (Encore show)
  • Jul 5 – BCEC Great Hall, Brisbane (Encore show)
  • Jul 6 – ICC Sydney Theatre, Sydney (Encore show)

Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

Higgins, known for her emotive lyrics and soulful voice, has been a prominent figure in the Australian music scene since her debut album, The Sound of White, in 2004. On tour this March, she’ll be celebrating the legacy of her stunning debut.

The upcoming tour is not just a chance for her to showcase her timeless hits but also an opportunity for fans to witness the evolution of her sound and style.

The tour will take Missy Higgins to major cities, regional towns and everything in between. This approach ensures that her music resonates with a diverse audience, making the tour a truly inclusive celebration of Australian music.

For longtime fans, the tour promises to be a nostalgic trip down memory lane, with beloved classics like Scar, Steer and Where I Stood likely to feature prominently in the setlist. At the same time, new and seasoned listeners alike can anticipate the introduction of fresh tracks that showcase the artist’s continuous growth and artistic exploration.

Beyond the music, Missy Higgins’ live performances are known for their authenticity and intimate connection with the audience. Her ability to convey raw emotion through her lyrics and performances has made her a cherished figure in the Australian music landscape.

Tickets for Missy Higgins encore shows go on sale at noon local time on Thursday, February 29. More information here

This CBD stand is giving away free banh mi and Vietnamese iced coffee next week

Get ready to munch because Vietnam Airlines is teaming up with Banh Mi Stand, one of Melbourne’s newest lunch hotspots, to treat the city to a free banh mi bonanza on Wednesday, 28th February 2024. The event promises an extravaganza of flavours inspired by destinations served by Vietnam Airlines from Melbourne.

From 10am until stocks last, the first 200 guests will be treated to a complimentary culinary journey featuring handmade banh mi sandwiches and Vietnamese iced coffee.

Vietnam Airlines Banh Mi Bonanza Details:

  •  Complimentary  banh mi sandwiches and Vietnamese iced coffee
  • Banh Mi Stand, 547 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
  • Wednesday, 28 February 2024
  • From 10am until sold out

Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

Banh Mi Stand has curated an exclusive menu for this special occasion, drawing inspiration from various international cuisines. Indulge in French-inspired banh mi with duck confit and orange plum sauce, or savour German variations featuring pork sausage and salted cabbage.

If you’re in the mood for British flavours, try the rare roast beef with onion jam. For those seeking exotic tastes, the Indian-inspired turmeric cauliflower and kasundi option awaits. And of course, there’s a nod to tradition with the classic Hanoi cha com banh mi.

 

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Banh Mi Stand and Vietnam Airlines have partnered on this delicious giveaway to promote Vietnam Airlines’ Transit Tours of Vietnam. Passengers flying from Melbourne to Europe and Asia via Vietnam can enjoy complimentary guided tours showcasing the best of Vietnam’s attractions, cuisine, and culture.

The free tours are available to travellers flying through Vietnam to destinations like Germany, France, England, Japan and South Korea.

In Hanoi, tour highlights might encompass Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum, the historic Old Quarter, as well as visits to traditional villages like Van Phuc and Bat Trang. Similarly, in Ho Chi Minh City, travellers can expect to explore attractions such as Thien Hau Pagoda, Notre Dame Cathedral and the iconic Opera House.

So, mark your calendars for Wednesday, 28th February 2024, and head to 547 Flinders Lane for a Banh Mi Bonanza like no other. It’s first come, first served, so arrive early to secure your spot at the feast!

For more information on the free banh mi on Wednesday, February 28, head here.

Angie McMahon adds new dates to her biggest Australian tour yet this May

Critically acclaimed Naarm/Melbourne singer-songwriter Angie McMahon will be hitting the road for her most extensive headline tour across Australia and New Zealand yet, treating fans to intimate theatre shows in support of her captivating second album, Light, Dark, Light Again.

Due to frenzied ticket sales on her original dates, the artist has added two new shows to the tour: one at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall on May 13 and another at Melbourne’s Forum on May 13, where she’ll be supported by South African born, Melbourne based musician Ruby Gill.

Angie McMahon – Making It Through Tour

  • Sunday 12 May: Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, Eora/Sydney, NSW (SOLD OUT)
  • Monday 13 May: Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, Eora/Sydney, NSW
  • Wednesday 15 May: The Tivoli, Meanjin/Brisbane, QLD
  • Friday 17 May: Bar On The Hill, Mulubinba/Newcastle, NSW
  • Saturday 18 May: Anita’s Theatre, Woolyungah/Thirroul, NSW (SOLD OUT)
  • Saturday 25 May: Odeon Theatre, Nipaluna/Hobart, TAS
  • Tuesday 28 May: Forum Melbourne, Naarm/Melbourne, VIC
  • Wednesday 29 May: Forum Melbourne, Naarm/Melbourne, VIC (SOLD OUT)
  • Friday 31 May: Forum Melbourne, Naarm/Melbourne, VIC (SOLD OUT)
  • Saturday 1 June: Ulumbarra Theatre, Dja Dja Wurrung/Bendigo, VIC
  • Wednesday 5 June: Perth Concert Hall, Boorlo/Perth, WA
  • Friday 7 June: Hindley Street Music Hall, Tarndanya/Adelaide, SA
  • Friday 14 June: San Fran, Wellington, NZ
  • Saturday 15 June: Powerstation, Auckland, NZ

Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

Known for her gripping live performances and authentic storytelling, McMahon captured global attention back in 2017 with her indie-rock gem ‘Slow Mover’. Her debut album, Salt, dropped in 2019, reaching an impressive #5 spot on the ARIA Album charts and snagging multiple accolades, including the AIR Award for Best Independent Rock Album.

Fast forward to October 2023, and McMahon’s highly anticipated follow-up, Light, Dark, Light Again, hit the airwaves. This album, a testament to McMahon’s bold musical evolution, has been hailed by triple j as a contender for Australian Album of the Year. Not to mention, it’s already making waves internationally, earning spots on various Best Of lists from Rolling Stone AU to NME AU and beyond.

Co-produced by the renowned GRAMMY-nominated Brad Cook (known for his work with Bon Iver, Waxahatchee, and Kevin Morby), McMahon’s latest musical offering dives deep into themes of resilience and renewal. It’s a sonic journey born from turbulent times, offering a mix of hope, joy, and relief – evident in the early singles ‘Letting Go’, ‘Saturn Returning’, and ‘Exploding’.

McMahon’s dynamic stage presence has earned her nominations aplenty, and she’s no stranger to sharing the spotlight with international acts like Hozier and Mumford and Sons. Ahead of her AU/NZ tour, McMahon will be hitting the USA for more tour dates in March, followed by a sold-out run in the UK and Europe.

Reflecting on Light, Dark, Light Again, McMahon shares, “It finds that the only certainty in life is that everything ends, and everything begins again – that there is life and death and life again, that there is light and dark and light again.”

Joining McMahon on her Australian leg will be special guest Annie-Rose Maloney, while in New Zealand, she’ll be supported by Kee’ahn.

This tour is not one to miss. It’s a chance to witness Angie McMahon’s remarkable musical journey firsthand – an experience that promises to be unforgettable, showcasing her evolution into a bolder, bigger, and brighter sonic landscape.

Tickets for both new Sydney and Melbourne shows will go on sale on Tuesday, 27 February at 3pm local time. Grab them here

Nominations for all categories open in the 2024 AIR Awards

This year’s AIR Awards additions include the Independent Producer Of The Year and the Independent Music Video Of The Year. These awards will recognise the efforts of an Australian-based producer and music video director who worked on a member single, EP or Album released during the eligibility period (1st January 2023 to 31st December 2023).

AIR is a non-profit, non-government trade association dedicated to supporting the growth and development of Australia’s independent recorded music sector. Established in 1996, AIR represents Australian-owned record labels and independent artists based in Australia.

Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

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AIR is a member of the Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), the peak body for international independent music associations. WIN trade association members collectively advocate for fair, competitive market access and copyright protection globally. AIR’s CEO is also a WIN Board member.

AIR members are artists, labels and distributors across the full spectrum of music genres, ranging from small sole traders to some of the biggest independent operations in the country.

AIR Members can nominate an Australian service provider who worked on one of their eligible releases. The award will go to the Producer or Music Video Director of the work. The 2024 AIR Awards will be held in Adelaide at the Queen’s Theatre on Thursday 1st August in conjunction with the Indie-Con Australia Conference at the Mercury Cinema from 31st July to 2nd August.

Nominations for all categories in the 2024 AIR Awards are now open to all members and will close at midnight on the 26th of March. To see if you qualify for AIR membership, click here.

Fearless aerial acrobatics on a revolving platform? Gravity Dolls bring their stirring new show to Melbourne

Combining acrobatics and aerial skills with fierce new writing, their shows push live performance to new heights, making genre-defying performances that fire the imagination.

Their new show Future Proof invites you to witness a dreamscape of our world in this critical juncture. Systems faltering. Tectonic plates colliding. A planet fighting for survival. Ordinary people just trying to get out of bed…

Gravity Dolls

  • 14 Mar 24 – 16 Mar 24, 7:30 PM – 8:40 PM
  • Multi-date: Thurs – Fri 7.30pm | Sat 1pm & 7.30pm
  • Darebin Arts Centre, 401 Bell St, Preston
  • Approximate running time: 70mins (no interval)
  • Show warnings: loud music and sound, smoke and haze
  • Auslan-interpreted performance and post-show talk: Friday 15 March, 7.30pm

Explore Melbourne’s latest arts and stage news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

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Performing on a revolving platform on the Darebin Arts Centre stage, this local ensemble of physical performers brings to life the beauty and absurdity of our collective moment − asking what keeps us going, and what got us here.

With stirring text by Harlow Carey, Future Proof is a stunning invocation of the world we’re waking up to, and a call to action for the one we hope to see.

So who are Gravity Dolls?

Founded in 2014, Gravity Dolls has garnered a reputation for their multidisciplinary approach, fusing contemporary circus, physical theatre, and original writing. Under the visionary leadership of Tim Rutty and Harlow Carey, Gravity Dolls has crafted a unique artistic practice rarely seen in Australia.

Their debut show, My Life in Boxes, premiered at the Melbourne Fringe Festival in 2014. It won the Original New Circus Award supported by Circus Oz, runner-up at the Gasworks Circus Showdown before interstate and regional tours. They were the first circus company to be programmed in Poppy Seed Theatre Festival with Level Up. In 2022 Future Proof premiered at the Arts Centre Melbourne, commissioned by the Springboard Program.

Gravity Dolls also runs their own circus studio in Northcote. It is home to a year-round short-course circus program for adults and a number of other programs for professional artists.

For tickets, head here.

Sampa the Great is playing a free, all-ages Afrofusion gig at Fed Square this Saturday

This Saturday, the 24th of February, Fed Square is set to come alive with the vibrant beats of Afrofusion as Sampa the Great takes the stage for a free, all-ages live music event. As part of Summer at the Square’s exciting lineup of live music Saturdays, this promises to be an unmissable evening for music lovers of all tastes.

Sampa the Great’s free, all-ages Afrofusion gig at Fed Square

  • What: Sampa the Great Live
  • When: Saturday 24 February
  • Time: From 6pm – late
  • Where: Fed Square

Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

Originally hailing from Zambia, Sampa Tembo, professionally known as Sampa the Great, has been making waves in the Australian music scene since 2014. With an impressive four ARIA awards under her belt, she’s no stranger to the global stage, having collaborated with industry giants and recently released her second record, As Above, So Below, in 2022. Now, she’s returning triumphantly to Australia, ready to light up Fed Square with her unique blend of energy and artistry.

Joining Sampa on stage are a lineup of talented acts spanning various genres within the Afrofusion spectrum, including Brotha Asanti & Soulectric, Elsy Wameyo, The Tony Allen Experience, and Kofi Shabba of African Dance Star. It’s shaping up to be a night filled with eclectic sounds and infectious rhythms.

For those looking to make a night of it, Victoria by Farmer’s Daughters will be serving up pre-concert drinks at the Patio Bar, along with a selection of cheese platters and artisan cured meats to enjoy during the show.

But the excitement doesn’t end there. Fed Square is transforming into a hub of entertainment this summer, offering a curated program of film and music for all to enjoy. From silent films with live scores on Tuesdays, to outdoor cinema on Wednesdays, and live music by candlelight on Thursdays, there’s something for everyone. And of course, Saturdays are reserved for the epic performances on the Main Stage, featuring both local talents and global sensations.

So, don’t miss your chance to experience the magic of Summer at the Square.

For the full program and event details, head to Fed Square’s website

A supercharged acrobatic circus and action-packed dance party are hitting Arts Centre Melbourne soon

Guru Dudu return with their joyous Silent Disco Walking Tours during the Autumn school holidays with an action-packed dance party cruising around the iconic Spire followed by an immersive journey into the art and design of the Theatres Building on 2 to 13 April.

Then, a supercharged urban circus hits the Playhouse from 17 to 19 May with 360 ALLSTARS by Onyx Productions combining phenomenal physical performance and exploring all forms of rotation with elements of BMX, basketball, breakdancing, acrobatics from 17 to 19 May.

Arts Centre Melbourne presents

Guru Dudu Silent Disco
Theatres Forecourt | 2 -13 April 2024
Duration: 30 minutes
Price: Standard – $15
Age Recommendation: Accessible for all ages and ability
Buy tickets here

360 ALLSTARS
Playhouse | 17 – 19 May
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: Children $28 – $55 | Standard $28 – $65 | Family Pass $33.75 – $50 per person
Age Recommendation: Ages 8+
Buy tickets here

Explore Melbourne’s latest arts and stage news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

The team at Arts Centre Melbourne is delighted to lock in world class entertainment options for families at an affordable price.

“We are so excited to bring these fun, family-friendly events to our audiences. Both Guru Dudu and the 360 All Stars have enjoyed success across the globe and it’s a real treat to have them visit us at Arts Centre Melbourne,” said Katy Warner, Arts Centre Melbourne Creative Producer, Families & Children.

Guru Dudu are a Melbourne based creative collective that have spread their wings across Australia and into the UK and Europe.

The Silent Disco Walking Tours were created by performer Guru Dudu who debuted “Happy Yoga” at the 2008 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. In 2013 the team launched the highly successful tours combining his passions for theatre improve, placemaking and engagement in familiar and enriching environments.

“A seriously fun piece of immersive theatre using the city and inhabitants as its backdrop, a life affirming experience and great fun.” – Eric Page, Gscene

“I can honestly say Guru Dudu’s Silent Disco Walking Tour has been my favourite Fringe experience in a few years. I cannot wait to join in again.” – Ali Moylan, InDaily

“The sheer joy that this ingenious tour infuses you with is infectious, and I found myself smiling and laughing at the memory of it for hours afterwards.” – Tuesday McPhail, Broadway Baby

The international acclaimed 360 ALLSTARS circus comes to town boasting a stellar cast of World Champion and World Record holding artists and athletes. The talented cast include World Champion BMX Flatlander Peter Sore, champion breakdancers B-Boy Sette and B-Boy Leerok, World Renowned Basketball Freestyler Bavo Delbeke and many more. 360 ALLSTARS are celebrating their 10-year anniversary world tour with a leg in Melbourne after selling out shows on Broadway, Edinburgh and Sydney Opera House.

For more information visit artscentremelbourne.com.au

There’s a brand new electronic camping festival happening next month

Sonder, for those of you wondering, is a term that refers to the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.

Sonder Festival, meanwhile, is an independent three-day electronic music and arts festival over the Easter weekend in 2024. Featuring left-field dance, electronic, and percussive musicians and DJs from both around the world and locally.

It’s being organised by 188naarm, who regularly throw parties at The Third Day and put on that superb rave at the Greenwood Hotel with Marlon Hoffstadt and co back in November.

Sonder Festival

  • Fri 29th Mar 2024, 3:00 pm – Mon 1st Apr
  • Our Friends Farm Tallarook

Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

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Sonder lineup

  • 188 Selectors
  • Ajak Kwai (Live)
  • Badger (Uk)
  • Benwal (Uk)
  • Bella Claxton
  • Brown Suga Princess
  • C.Frim
  • Mirasia
  • Chloé Robinson (Uk)
  • Crush3d
  • Dj Life
  • Faster Horses (Uk)
  • House Mum (Fluxx)
  • Loods
  • Main Phase (Dk)
  • Milkbar (Live)
  • Moktar
  • Naycab
  • No News (Live)
  • One Spirit Africa (Live)
  • Prizefight
  • Rona.
  • Tama Sumo (De)
  • Lakuti (De)
  • Tinika
  • Vessa (Live)
  • Wolters
  • Yikes
  • Yollks (Fluxx)
    + More Tba

Sonder is a 1.25 hour drive from Melbourne CBD, at the same place that used to hold Boogie Festival. Music begins – 3:00 PM on Friday 29th March and finishes – 1:00 AM Monday 1st April.

“‘Sonder’ is the realisation that each passerby is living a life as complex as your own. It can be an isolating realisation, but it can also be liberating, calming, and comforting. And it is often felt at small festivals like this one,” the festival organisers say, “we think it’s going to be really fun. You should come.”

Tickets are available here.

 

Multi-award winning comedian Maria Bamford is coming to Australia in July

Bamford’s unique comedy style and sharp observations on family dynamics and human eccentricities has won her praise from peers and audiences the world over. Combining sharp humour with empathy, Bamford’s comedy is unafraid to lean into the personal, as she weaves stories about her life and her own mental health journey in with wickedly funny comedy.

Maria Bamford Australian tour

  • Friday 5  July Odeon Theatre Hobart
  • Tuesday 9 July Hindley Street Music Hall Adelaide
  • Wednesday 10 July The Tivoli Brisbane
  • Friday 12 July Enmore Theatre Sydney
  • Saturday 13 July Palais Theatre Melbourne
  • Tuesday 16 July Astor Theatre Perth

Explore Melbourne’s latest arts and stage news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

Maria has had a storied career over the years; with a starring role in her semi-biographical Netflix series Lady Dynamite, supporting roles in Arrested Development, Fresh Off The Boat, Portlandia, Kroll Show and Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job!; Voice over work for Adventure Time, Bobs Burgers, Bojack The Horseman, Spongebob Squarepants, Human Resources, Bigmouth and Rick and Morty; 4 critically acclaimed comedy specials (Local Act (2023), Weakness Is The Brand (2020), Old Baby (2017) and The Special Special Special (2012)); as well as talk show appearances on Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Craig Fergusson, Jimmy Kimmel and even our very own Rove Live.

Her recently released memoir ‘Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult: A Memoir of Mental Illness and the Quest To Belong Anywhere!’ details Bamford’s struggle with mental health over the years, and all the different 12-step programs and self-help groups she joined in her quest for clarity. This hilariously honest auto-biography was an instant New York Times Bestseller, and was named one of 2023’s best releases by Vulture and NPR.

Tickets via www.destroyalllines.com 

The boundary-pushing musicals of today owe a considerable debt to RENT

As performance artist Maureen, who doesn’t materialise until midway through Act 1, NIDA graduate Calista Nelmes – who you might recognise from Team Jason on The Voice’s 2023 season – makes her Australian musical theatre debut in one of her dream roles. Nelmes is an utterly captivating presence on stage, her vocal runs land effortlessly and she completely embodies the self-centred but also annoyingly gifted Maureen.

Fun fact: Post-show discussion revealed theatregoers with previous RENT experience deemed Nelmes’ performance art scene (Over The Moon) the G.O.A.T. – she even coaxed the audience to moo along, ferchrissakes!

RENT: The Musical

  • State Theatre, The Arts Centre
  • Tues 20 Feb
  • Tickets here

Explore Melbourne’s latest arts and stage news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

Breakup anthem Take Me Or Leave Me – Nelmes’ duet with Thndo, who plays Maureen’s girlfriend Joanne – is another standout moment and they pass their chemistry test with flying colours.

Similarly, the ‘connection’ between New Zealand-Samoan singer-actor Nick Afoa (Collins) and his onstage lover Carl De Villa (Angel), translates beyond the footlights.  I’ll Cover You, their duet about consciously coupling, makes our heart hurt and when Afoa later reprises this song following devastating circumstances we definitely need a hug. Afoa pulls focus like a super-strong magnet every single time he graces the stage.

RENT’s action takes place in Manhattan’s East Village (Alphabet City) circa 1991.

The musical, which plays out under the horrific shadow of HIV/AIDS, homes in on a group of bohemians who face eviction from their decrepit apartment building.

Dann Barber’s inspired set design cleverly utilises levels, with cast members constantly rotating and adjusting the movable multilayered scaffolding and platforms – often while singing. Strings of Christmas lights occasionally illuminate to indicate the passing of time.

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Dark alley corners, seedy scenes and expressive faces are isolated and illuminated thanks to Paul Jackson’s precise lighting design.

That silhouetted orgy scene, which plays out behind a scrim curtain, would’ve been soooo raunchy when this musical first opened off-Broadway back in 1996 – almost 30 years ago.

Director Shaun Rennie’s realistic blocking and Luca Dinardo’s subtle choreography maximise the potential for characterisation within movement, which is explored to great effect by this talented ensemble.

Costumes-wise, designer Ella Butler goes for angsty-grunge meets velour with a dash of povo-student chic; except for the inspired designs worn to depict market stalls, with individuals sporting creations composed entirely of ties, bags or coats – wow factor through the roof!

Act 2’s powerful opener Seasons Of Love is a well-documented fan favourite, but Will I? – another ensemble piece – is particularly affecting, and memorable, during Act 1 on opening night.

Queer characters getting it on, drag queens, junkies, rough sleepers – the more contemporary, boundary-pushing musicals of today certainly owe a considerable debt to RENT.

We laughed, we cried, some among us even mooed. But, predominantly, we’re reminded that tomorrow’s never promised (see: No Day But Today) and love is all there is.

Did you know? RENT’s creator Jonathan Larson tragically died, aged 35, in the early hours of the actual day this musical opened off-Broadway. He was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and three Tony Awards for RENT.

RENT plays at State Theatre, Art Centre Melbourne until 10 March, before touring to Newcastle, Perth and Canberra.

My Cousin Vlad – DIS/DAT

My Cousin Vlad debuts at Brisbane Comedy Festival with his most polished hour after selling out theatres across Australia, and shows in Europe and the UK.

In 2024, Vlad brings DIS/DAT to the world, covering pop culture, modern marriage, Aussie VS European lifestyles, society and aging. What you won’t hear is anything about politics.

Featuring music, a screen show and unpredictable stage antics.

As usual. Tickets will sell out. Get in quick.