PBS Drive Live: revolutionising live music while unravelling Melbourne’s underground

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PBS Drive Live: revolutionising live music while unravelling Melbourne’s underground


Further experimentation in client engagement is the key to reconsolidation and through its forward-thinking Drive Live program, PBS 106.7FM is paving the way for the future.

A radio station bearing more than 80 specialist programs sprawling soul to garage to country and jazz genres has been a centrepiece of the Melbourne music landscape since 1979 – next week, they launch their annual escapade.

For two hours each night across five days, Drive Live welcomes 15 bands to playin studio to a live audience. The brains of the music masterminds are then undone in an exclusive interview – shedding the blanket from the tales behind the notes.

According to PBS marketing and events coordinator, Josie Smart, the program is simply in line with an obligation to foster the gold under the soil. “Consistent with PBS’ stated vision ‘to nurture, inspire and champion Melbourne’s diverse music community,’ Drive Live is PBS’ major initiative in support of local original music.

“There are many different purposes behind the event,” Smart says. “Firstly, it’s a really wonderful opportunity to open our doors and invite our listeners into the world of PBS to see how radio is made. It’s also a great way to boost exposure for some of the many talented emerging artists in the Victorian music industry.

“On top of the promotion the artists receive being part of the event (that is, performing on radio and publicity in the lead-up), each artist also receives a mastered recording of their session, as well as photos and video content which they can then use.”

A wonderful exposure tool for Melbourne’s thriving yet sometimes underappreciated music scene kicks off under the moniker of Monday evening program Zen Arcade. Headlining is experimental electronic one-piece Corin. Corin Ileto’s love-hate relationship with the piano spurred a progressive exploration of 20th century modern music – briskly culminating in the ambient wave embodying her sound today. She’ll be supported by Karli White and No Sister for the first instalment.

The following night, Mixing Up The Medicine welcomes ‘60s hard rock dynamos ORB to the stage. Still reeling off their adventurous 2016 LP Birth, the three-piece have cemented themselves as contemporary nostalgic masterminds, fusing old-school core with progressive psychedelia. Miss Destiny and RVG share the stage for an evening of droning rock’n’roll.

The perfect exemplification of the Drive Live vision is Cash Savage & The Last Drinks. A diligent country rock band on the Melbourne circuit for the better part of a decade has never been one to flaunt its expertise. Featured as Beat Album of the Week, their 2016 full-length One of Us converges narratives of longing and hope with despair and sorrow. Gabriella Cohen and Hi-Tec Emotions will jump in for the preceding sets.

A coming together of new and old sees The Peep Tempel and The Dacios team up with Amyl and the Sniffers for the fourth evening on the schedule. A reputation which gained momentum off the back of their 2014 album Tales, was accelerated in the wake of their third LP Joy. Now The Peep Tempel have solidified themselves as a sought-after live act ­– matching rawness with candid lyricism.  

Capping off Drive Live on the Friday is garage pop outfit The Pink Tiles alongside inimitable singer/songwriter Laura Jean and noisy female duo Shrimpwitch. Helena Plazzer joins Richie 1250 as Stone Love’s special guest for the night.

Each night is stylistically and thematically different, an effort Smart says is important in achieving originality. “The PBS drive programs (Zen Arcade, Mixing Up the Medicine, The Afterglow, Fang It!, Stone Love) all play music loosely fitting the indie, rock and alternative genres, and as such, the artists selected to perform fit into these categories.”

A DIY arrangement for a DIY culture; Drive Live is the perfect concoction of futuristic foresight with Melbourne-concious pragmatism, so what’s next for PBS?


By Tom Parker