Nine unmissable gigs to catch at RISING festival

Nine unmissable gigs to catch at RISING festival

Julia Jacklin (image by Nick Mckk) and Gregor (image by Matthew Shaw)
Words By Tammy Walters

Melbourne will be brought to life with many musical treats come late May.

RISING festival is Melbourne’s total eclipse of the art, boasting a mammoth program for its inaugural instalment.

With music, performance, public art, hospitality wonders and more, the major cultural event has been created by a diverse team of local, national and international artists and curators, and works in conjunction with the total lunar eclipse, to resynchronise and reenergise the city.

Kicking off Wednesday May 26 and running until Sunday June 6, RISING will be non-stop from go to woe, electrifying the city with a long list of events. To assist in organising your busy program schedule, here are nine unmissable music gigs to see at RISING’s debut.

Keep up with the latest festival news, reviews and interviews here.


Barkaa, Kootsie Don, Sevy & Bayang and Soju Gang – a lineup worth drooling over. From underground hip hop roots to the Max Watt’s stage, this show will be consumed by heavy dancefloor beats and even heavier lyrical content. Tackling subjects of white privilege, homelessness and drug addiction, Barkaa is a storyteller set on offering real perspectives on real issues.

Be engrossed by this exhilarating event on Saturday May 29. Tix here.


If a straight up rock show is what you are after, look no further than CLAMM’s gig at Max Watt’s on Thursday May 27. Their first body of work, Beseech Me, fly-kicked its way into the world early last year with ferocious intensity, captured in tracks ‘Keystone Pols’, ‘Liar’, ‘Dog’ and ‘Sucker Punch’. Recruiting manic majors Brick Head and the dry-humoured drone of Voice Imitators, this show will be a hammer to the heavy head (in the best possible way).

Hit it up on Thursday May 27. Tix here

DRMNGNOW and Kobie Dee

In a ceremonious co-headline culmination comes hip hop dream team, DRMNGNOW and Kobie Dee. Vocal advocate for change, DRMNGNOW has forged a fearless path projecting powerful messages about the rejection of colonialism and the sovereignty of First Nations people through mediums of music and poetry. Likewise, Kobie Dee has used hip hop as a form of expression and deep meditation for reflection and healing. Together with Pookie and DJ, SOVBLKPSSY, audiences will be in for an energetic, eye-opening evening.

It’s all going down at Max Watt’s on Saturday June 5. Tix here.  

Grand Salvo

A career milestone musical mash, Melbourne’s Grand Salvo and The Orbweavers will reunite for the first time since 2006 for one night only as part of RISING festival. A luscious weaving of instrumentation and songwriting, this performance will see audiences surrender to the soothing sounds of baroque folk. Paddy Mann of Grand Salvo will be accompanied by a full band to deliver tracks from his 21-year career and seven-album discography, including 2018 album Sea Glass, while The Orbweavers select songs from their decade old delight, Loom.

It’s all unfolding at Comedy Theatre on Sunday June 6. Tix here.

Gregor and Sweet Whirl

Projecting from the RISING platform, Gregor and Sweet Whirl are finally unleashing their respective 2020 albums Destiny and How Much Works in a live music setting. In a masterful collaboration Gregor and Sweet Whirl will co-headline at Comedy Theatre, calling upon a specially-created backing band for the occasion. From the pop eccentricities of Gregor to the country claws of Sweet Whirl, Destiny and How Much Works unexpectedly, yet seamlessly, gel together, and will be two wonderful treats to see live.

Check it out for yourself on Saturday May 29. Tix here

The Goon Sax

Off the back of their new single, ‘In the Stone’, The Goon Sax will be taking to Max Watt’s, the Brisbane band’s long-awaited return to the Melbourne stage – a city where they are very much beloved. It’s divine slacker rock that dives deeps with its imagination and sentiment. The band will be joined by Jonnine for the show – HRTK’s revered frontwoman who last year dropped her masterful solo album, Blue Hills.

Going down at Max Watt’s on Thursday June 3. Tix here.

Julia Jacklin

It would be remiss of us not to include Australia’s songwriting darling on this list. Julia Jacklin has been crushing it since her 2019 critically-acclaimed album crashed into our world, leading to a sell-out world tour. Across two rare and intimate solo performances, Jacklin will bless RISING festival with a capsule of songs across her catalogue, which will see her supported by the ever-emerging Kulin Nations-based singer, Kee’ahn.

It’s all happening at Comedy Theatre on Sunday May 30 and Monday May 31. Tix here.

The Necks

RISING has declared that its 2021 event will feature a delicate blend of the iconic and emerging. That could not be truer with the inclusion of The Necks on the program. The cult Australian improvisation icons are the festival’s band In Residency, performing across multiple venues and in multiple formats including two gigs at the Comedy Theatre, scoring Back to Back Theatre’s restaging of its seminal work Food Court, and invigorating Melbourne Recital Centre with solo performances from band members Chris Abrahams and Tony Buck.

The Necks hit the Comedy Theatre on Wednesday June 2 and Thursday June 3. Tix here.

Vanessa Worm

Vanessa Worm was building a nice trajectory in the Melbourne music scene pre-pandemic thanks to her audacious stage shows and ambitious debut album, Vanessa 77. Descending on Max Watt’s on Friday June 4, Worm will wriggle through a set of party-plastered pleasers. Co-headlining is Sydney’s doom-jazz duo, Party Dozen, bringing their instrumental heavy 2020 album, Pray For Party Dozen, along for the spiritual showcase. With borders now open for business, New Zealand’s Eden Burns will also be tagging along for the ride, bringing his delectable house music to the stage.

Worming in on Friday June 4. Tix here.

RISING goes down from Wednesday May 26 until Sunday June 6. Check out the full program here.