SWELL 5.0 wants to shake up Melbourne’s live music scene

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SWELL 5.0 wants to shake up Melbourne’s live music scene

Words by Caitlyn Hynes

Think about this. When you observe the arts scene here in Melbourne, you can see how different experiences, like stage theatre, art galleries and circus have reinvented themselves.

The same might not be said for our prolific live music scene. SWELL 5.0 / Frequency and its immersive, interactive live music performance seeks to change all that.

Returning to the 2019 Melbourne Music Week for its fifth iteration, SWELL is set to throw all rules out the window and transform the city streets for MMW’s tenth anniversary. For one night only, on Thursday November 14, Artistic Director Janenne Willis and a lineup of genre-diverse collaborating artists will allow you to transcend grey, corporate routine for joy, peace and curiosity. Plus, participation is free.

“Music and arts, when it’s blended together, has this incredible ability to change the frequency of people – to alter their realm and their state of being,” Willis explains.

“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could raise the vibe of the city streets and change it from productively hustling around in a stressed, pent-up manner and instead have people feel more joy, curiosity, to feel more grounded and liberated?’.”

Having conceptualised this interactive live music experience five years prior, the growth of SWELL has seen it expand from the back of the Carlton Club back in 2014 to full streets of Melbourne’s CBD, marking this as one night that is unlike anything us Melburnians have ever experienced.

“This show is not just different in Melbourne. With all my research from my travels across the world, I have never seen anything like [SWELL]. There’s really nothing like it and I think the reason why is that when you look at other arts forms, like the theatre or circus, they really have fundamentally reinvented themselves.

“One of the things I love about [SWELL] is that it attracts all walks of life. We’ve had everyone from really cultured and embedded members of the music community, to an 80-year-old couple. That’s the universal power of music. You don’t need to be a creative genius to be in the presence of and enjoy the sheer power of live music.”

For the less creatively inclined, never fear for you are given the opportunity to learn, without judgement or discomfort. SWELL has been designed with all in mind, allowing you to freely explore live music like never before.

“It’s about the physicality of being on a journey where you don’t know what is going to happen or where you’re going to end up. This concept is very underground but it’s utterly accessible for people who may not necessarily be comfortable about the underground.

“We invite you in to come with an open mind and heart but you’re not left alone to fend for yourself. Instead we’re there to help you, metaphorically holding your hand through it all.”

That’s where Willis’ success lies. As she herself reflects, the reason why SWELL continues to grow from strength to strength is because, “People are calling for this. They need this. There’s a need for this rule-breaking experience because no one else has done it.

“No doubt about it, it’s very different to going to a traditional gig but it definitely has a very, very stimulating element that leaves you rejuvenated.”

As the name suggests, this is one night where Willis and her lineup help you change your frequency and the frequency of Melbourne’s city streets. It’s one fleeting opportunity to allow you the freedom to simply be, all the while experiencing live music without the stricture of rules.

Willis will be joined by artists Naretha Williams, Kōtare, Kween G, Edd Fisher, Phondupe, Manoj Dias, Liana Perillo, Sarita McHarg, Playable Streets, Hey Drums, Groove Therapy and Rosie Sayers for the occasion.

SWELL 5.0 / Frequency hits Melbourne for Melbourne Music Week on Thursday November 14. Participation is free and you can learn more about the event via the MMW website.