Melbourne Music Week announces huge 2021 program, breathing life into the city

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Melbourne Music Week announces huge 2021 program, breathing life into the city

Melbourne Music Week
Words by Lucas Radbourne

Melbourne Music Week returns with an incredibly important 2021 program featuring 300 artists (95% local) across 23 locations over 10 days from December 3 - 12.

Melbourne Music Week in 2021 offers up possibly the most important program in the stellar event’s history, as it heralds the return – with no capacity limits – of one of the world’s greatest live music cultures after the world’s longest lockdown.

The 2021 event will resume its traditional festival format, with a focus on engaging Melburnians with a huge array of venues.

What you need to know

  • Melbourne Music Week is back with 300 artists spanning 65+ events across 23 locations
  • The event runs over 10 days from December 3 – 12, plus four headline events across January and February
  • Tickets go on sale today, so be quick. The event attracted over 70,000 people in 2020, despite COVID19.

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

There is one break with tradition; the organisers have wisely decided to take over the iconic Max Watt’s for a brand new MMW Club, rather than pop-up their usual Hub venue, in recognition of the battle existing Melbourne venues have faced over the past two years.

Instead, Max Watt’s will offer eight consecutive nights of local music, spearheading a program that spans the length and breadth of Melbourne music and venues.

Live Music Safari returns

MMW’s diversity will be best evidenced by the Live Music Safari, which returns on Sunday December 12. Live Music Safari will bring 70 artists to 12 venues for a day and night of live, free music to close the huge week of acts.

It promises to be a massive, extended party that will leave us all feeling a lot more normal (albeit hungover) than we have in a very long time.

More than just the week

However, some of the Melbourne Music Week’s biggest performances are actually set for January and February. The program’s headline events are Kardajala Kirridarra at the Recital Centre, a Butter Sessions showcase at The Forum, plus the Melbourne Museum hosting Georgia Maq + Go Sky and SHOUSE across January 27 and 28 respectively.

Opening weekend extravaganza

It’s all going to begin at the MPavillion, which will spring the Queen Victoria Gardens to life with Wominjeka. It includes a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony, curated by First Nations artist Bumpy and featuring Emma Donovan & The Putbacks, Squid Nebula, Kee’ahn, Izy and dj pgz.

The opening weekend will also kickoff some of the more diverse facets of the festival lineup. There’ll be interactive mindfulness, all-ages programming, and a genre-bending First Nations event ‘An Afternoon in Naarm’. This will then lead into the rest of the program’s auxiliary offerings; a roller disco at Fed Square, the Carlton International Jazz Festival at Colour, Live Cuts at The Toff…there’s over 60 independent events and gigs as part of this year’s program, so the list goes on.

MMW Quick Facts: 10 days, 300+ artists, 95% local-based, 23 venues, 65 shows, 21 free events

Kick ons!

Each night on the opening weekend we’ll be heading to Sub Club until the early hours for the MMW Kick-Ons program, featuring the likes of The Operatives, IN2STELLAR, WAT Artists, 6AM AT THE GARAGE and much, much more.

The following weekend is the MMW Late-Night Programming at Miscellania, where the likes of LUCIANBLOMKAMP and Chiara Kickdrum bring the highlights.

There’s a significant electronic flavour to this year’s program – apt considering nightclubs have faced the harshest shutdowns of all Melbourne venues – but it’s coloured by immersive experiences.

The organisers are promising a reimagination of the club space that shakes up punter expectations. A balance of avant-garde and clubbing catharsis. Whatever you’re into, you’ve been warned.

There’s also an expansive array of music docos on offer, most of which are heading to ACMI. One of the highlights is Rock n Roll, a reclaimed Aussie documentary that’s one of the world’s oldest surviving concert films. The Capitol is also getting in on the action with The Songs of David McComb & the Triffids,¬†as performed by friends of the great cult Australian songwriter, David McComb.

The Music Victoria Awards on Thursday December 9 will be livestreamed on Channel 31 and YouTube from the Melbourne Recital Centre, featuring a packed lineup to celebrate the top releases of the year.

MMW’s Protopia conference

Last but certainly not least, Protopia is a new addition to the Melbourne Music Week lineup. It’s a day-long symposium of panels and talks, led by American-by-birth, Berliner-by-nature Holly Herndon via livestream.

It’s a suitably diverse lineup, with discussions on creating musical universes, exploring temporality and nature, communing with cyborgs and AI, and balancing IDM, grime, EBM, trance, and baroque-laden ambiance with Filipina-Australian producer Corin.

If you’re not delightfully overwhelmed yet, hang on for dear life. We’ll be bringing you daily previews, best-of picks, reviews, interviews and more as your home of Melbourne Music Week each year, so stay tuned.

For the full program, head to the Melbourne Music Week website here, or follow them on Instagram here. Tickets are on sale from noon Thursday 11 November.

To buy tickets and for the full program, visit the Melbourne Music Week website.