There’s been gigs in a church, a library, even a hospital.
In 2019, Melbourne Music Week raises the bat, for ten years of glory, experiment, and innovation. To think that MMW has entered and transformed the likes of the Former Royal Women’s Hospital, the Argus Building, the State Library of Victoria and St Paul’s Cathedral over its tenure is quite remarkable; almost nonsensical.
Nonsenscality is what fuels the MMW fire, however, and how appreciative the passionate Melbourne music community is for that. As the 2019 incarnation gets set to launch, join us as we break down the ten most memorable moments since its 2010 inauguration.
1. Tangerine Dream playing Sorcerer at ACMI (2014)
This was the last-ever performance of Tangerine Dream before the legendary Edgar Froese passed away. Their two shows for Melbourne Music were their first Australian performances since 1975 and also included a show at Melbourne Town Hall where the renowned German outfit took on the hallowed Grand Organ. On this occasion, Tangerine Dream played the complete score to William’s Friedkin’s epic jungle thriller. Tickets were $38.
2. DJ Hell at St Paul’s Cathedral (2017)
The amazing lasers! German veteran DJ and musical powerhouse Helmut Geier – aka DJ Hell– headlined the MMW Hub at St Paul’s Cathedral, putting on an Australian exclusive show that transformed the unique space into a sublime showcase of dramatic orchestral tension and evocative futuristic synthesis.
3. Argus Building as the Hub (2012)
The Argus… ‘Where?!’ Melbourne Music Week’s creative nous and appetite to find ramshackle or eccentric locations for its Hub, has left punters spellbound year-after-year. For its 2012 event, the festival took on this dilapidated and disused building on the corner of Elizabeth and Latrobe Streets. It’s more than 90 years old, so the idea that MMW managed to access this building and turn it into a temporary music venue is just mind-blowing.
4. Kubik opening night (2011)
When we lit up Kubik for the first time with Cut Copy and Midnight Juggernauts DJs. At the time, the concept of Kubik was well ahead of its time. At the time, the guys behind the venture, Kevin Karlberg and Starr Guzman, weren’t driven by financial or fame intentions, but rather a vision.
Speaking to Beat in 2011, Karlberg explained Kubik’s beginnings. “I went to [Kubik] twice when it was in Barcelona, in two different seasons,” Karlberg said. “Even with the brand of techno that I’m involved with in Melbourne, most of the artists and concepts and ideas that I got for that whole brand came from experiences I had with Kubik and so for a long time I’ve been trying to work out how to do that here in Australia.”
What a year that was.
5. Pantha du Prince playing Birrarung Marr’s Federation Bells (2013)
Melbourne Music Week commissioned the performance with the city as the backdrop at sunset. In an exclusive Australian appearance especially for MMW, German techno minimalist Pantha du Prince (Hendrik Weber) performed his remarkable, internationally-acclaimed collaborative symphony Elements of Light.
6. HTRK at St Michael’s Church (2011)
HTRK performed Work (Work, Work); an album that Sean Stewart had worked on before he died, and Jonnine Standish and Nigel Yang had brought to completion. It was a momentous occasion and our 2011 review of the event spoke accordingly.
“I often found myself forgetting to breathe,” writer Alexandra Duguid wrote. “Completely distracted by the contrast between the calm of the musicians and the pandemonium of music they performed. Each song had the tendency to blend into the other, often creating one giant mesh of songs and sound.
“For some, this could detract, getting lost between songs, however it played out like a film score, the erratic display of lights emphasising the ethereal film set.”
7. Her Sound Her Story at the State Library on Opening Night (2016)
This brought together so many amazing female artists who had never met before (Montaigne, Mojo Juju, Ecca Vandal, Ella Hooper), fostering a new community within a community.
We sent our writer Phoebe Robertson to the event, who, in a way, foretold the colossal rise of Sampa The Great.
“Sampa The Great was soon joined by Vandal for the most self-empowering version of James Brown’s ‘It’s A Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World’ to date. Sampa The Great summed the night up in her quick-witted rap as she proclaimed, “I’ve got a crown on my head and I show it, I’m a queen and I know it”.
Maybe Sampa is the queen.
8. Robert Henke playing Lumiere II at the Melbourne Recital Centre (2015)
It was a first for Melbourne Recital Centre not to have a performer on stage, only lasers. This was transcendent, resplendent and spellbinding all the same. And in 2019, we have Henke back. Beat writer Simone Ubaldi, shared some rather curious thoughts when she reviewed the show in 2015.
“A friend of mine downed a handful of mushrooms before the show and I spent much of its one-hour length wondering how she was feeling,” she said. “I regretted my abstinence – Henke’s lasers were extraordinary. They were precise and explosive, and sometimes quite beautiful. They were cool as shit, but maybe too clinical – I don’t feel anything as I watch them.”
9. Courtney Barnett’s lunchtime gig at the Argus Building (2012)
A hundred people were treated to this low-key performance of Courtney Barnett amongst the food stalls. This was just after I’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris, but well before A Sea of Split Peas arrived, which gained Barnett her first serious legs of traction. Then there was one of the best Australian albums of the decade, Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit and the rest is history.
Melbourne Music Week are always on the pulse.
10. Jeff Mills at ACMI (2018)
Legendary producer Jeff Mills confounded Melbourne Music Week with his live score to 1929 film Woman on the Moon while his audio/video project ‘The Trip’ took things to another level the following night.
In a way, billing Jeff Mills perfectly encapsulated MMW’s overarching vision of adventure and innovation. They keep pushing the boundaries of sound and storytelling. 2019 will take this to another level.
Melbourne Music Week kicks off on Thursday November 14 with the citywide behemoth, Live Music Safari, and runs until Sunday November 23. For more information and tickets head to the MMW website.