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Live Review: Melbourne Artists & Venues Celebrate Super Saturday At Inaugural Eighty-Six Festival | theMusic.com.au

todayNovember 6, 2023 3

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Named for the iconic Melbourne-to-Reservoir tram line, the inaugural edition of The Eighty-Six marked a month of live music that Naarm certainly won’t forget any time soon. The festival’s core event was Super Saturday, an enormous celebration of live music – running from the early hours of the morning, deep into the night on October 28 – that virtually every venue on High Street took part in.

The daylong bonanza hosted hundreds of live performances, highlighting the raucous energy and community spirit that’s long made Melbourne the live music capital of Australia. So to immortalise some of the countless memories made on Super Saturday, we caught up with a handful of the artists who performed (Maisie Everett of The Belair Lip Bombs, Al Matcott, Cool Sounds, June Jones, and Athina Uh Oh of Gut Health) and the venues that hosted them (the Wesley Anne, the Cactus Room, the Northcote Theatre, Shotkickers, 24 Moons and the Thornbury Bowls Club) to reminisce on the festival’s biggest and best moments.

Here’s what they all had to report from the first of what we hope are many Super Saturdays:

THE ARTISTS

How was your set at Super Saturday?

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Maisie Everett, frontwoman of The Belair Lip Bombs: It was good, we had fun and it was super busy.

Al Matcott: It was great! Heaps of people, the sound was terrific, gorgeous day, solid lineup. We had a wonderful time.

Cool Sounds: Our set was lots of fun, there was a really warm crowd and everyone working at the Thornbury Theatre was really great. Big thanks to Jet Black Cat, too, for programming the killer lineup.

June Jones: My set was really fun! We turned the lights down low and people made a little dance floor between the tables of the Wesley Anne. I played mostly new [and] unreleased songs that I’m finishing at the moment, and I was very sweaty by the end of it.

Athina Uh Oh, frontperson of Gut Health: We had a blast. It felt very warming to end our October run of gigs at Shotkickers, a beloved melting pot for local bands. We were surprised by the turnout, and grateful to see so many people come through to jump around venues and see underground music.

What was the overall vibe of the event, and what else did you check out?

Maisie: The overall vibe was really cool. I’d never experienced something like that in Melbourne before. Everyone was in good spirits. We spent the night walking around and sussing out different venues, bumping into friends and seeing different gigs – well trying to anyway, it was hard to get into a lot of venues because everywhere was so busy. But it was a good thing that everywhere was busy.

Al: It seemed like a fun-loving community atmosphere all up and down High Street. Everyone I chatted to was having an awesome time, aside from the wind. I caught Marina Allen at the Thornbury Theatre at 10:30am, then Queenie playing Bon Jovi hits at 11am – it was so much fun. A few members of the band caught The Empty Threats at Shotkickers after our show as well.

Cool Sounds: It was a really lively and unique vibe on High Street – a bit like a music festival meets a busy European street in summer. My personal highlight was watching childhood heroes Mach Pelican from the footpath outside Cafe Gummo.

June: The vibe of everything else I saw was great! Caught half of the content.net.au show at 24 Moons, which was very sick. Then I saw Katie Dey’s set, which was the best live performance of hers I’ve ever seen. After my set I saw a couple of my new faves, Sidney Phillips and Lil Ket, play a raucous and incredibly charming show to a crowd of adoring fans.

Athina: I really enjoyed dancing at the new Crown Ruler-run bar High Note, and heard rave reviews about Cured Pink, Exek and Lost Animal.

Why are events like Super Saturday so important for the community?

Maisie: Well it’s important because Melbourne doesn’t have enough large-scale community music events like that already. And because of the accessibility of the event – every performance being on one street, and every event being free – it was inclusive to a wide demographic of people, and encouraged so many people to come out and participate and engage with a diverse lineup of artists and bands.

Al: Melbourne’s music community is huge and ultra supportive. A free event like this with so many novel one-off shows, which celebrates music, live venues and Melbourne food – what fun! People part with a lot of money on music, in bars and on food here, and they’re happy to do it. It feels like a community. But times are tough and nothing’s getting any cheaper, so it’s nice for everyone to have such a fun party free of charge.

Cool Sounds: When I’m outside Australia, I think the most common question I’m asked is why and how Melbourne has so many great artists. I think events like this, along with our strong community radio [scene], really support local music unlike anywhere else in the world.

June: I think the music scene in Naarm is so vibrant and alive, and events like The Eighty-Six are such a strong reflection of the wealth of venues, artists, and music community here. I think the programming also meant that people were able to go and see acts that they might not have heard of, or thought to go and see otherwise.

Athina: It supports both music venues and retail, which have been struggling more so than ever since the plight of COVID-19, and of course it supports local acts. It also puts High Street on the map – which is dear to both artists and historic locals, many being family and friends in the Greek/Cypriot community.

THE VENUES

What vibe did Super Saturday bring to your venue and area in general?

Jeremy Fox, venue booker for the Wesley Anne: What a day! Super Saturday lived up to its name. We had an incredible line-up curated by Temperamental, and eager arts lovers flocked to the venue in droves. The Wesley Anne was absolutely buzzing from start to finish. Ever thought you’d see a mosh in the Wes bandroom? Neither did I, but it was there!

Dave Houston, co-founder of the Cactus Room: It was huge! It was a vibe that took over the entire street and neighbourhood. It was the first street-type festival I’ve been to, or a part of, that actually felt like a festival out in a field somewhere, just located in a city this time. I think having the majority of the shows being free to enter definitely encouraged people to roam around more and check out different spots, like you would at a camping festival. People were right on board with it all, from first thing in the morning as well it seemed, which was cool to see.

Andrew Mansfield, general manager of the Northcote Theatre: I think there was a great buzz around the street across the day. There was a nice party atmosphere from everyone. The venue was pretty consistently busy and it was cool to host the RRR team for the broadcast. It’s always fun hosting shows that have a bit of a swing in terms of demographic and genre stylings across the lineup.

Christopher Windley, co-founder of Shotkickers: Thornbury was absolutely bustling on Super Saturday. Shotkickers was virtually at capacity from midday to midnight.

Ali Davidson, artistic director of 24 Moons: Fantastic vibe – proper music lovers at both our shows and all over the area. A walk up High Street in Northcote in the evening was a joy. The area was bursting with a festival atmosphere. It felt alive.

Liam Barton, venue manager of the Thornbury Bowls Club: It was a really big day for us, breaking the record for most made over the bar in the history of the club. The pennant bowling season was happening until 5pm and they had a huge audience watching the last game, which everyone loved! As the night wore on it got really busy and everyone had a fantastic time.

What were the biggest highlights of the day?

Jeremy: Seeing The Native Cats throw down on a Nintendo DS, Sarah Mary Chadwick absolutely cramming the Wes band room wall to wall (very sorry to those we couldn’t fit in), June Jones creating an incredible atmosphere in the space, the aforementioned mosh to Sidney Phillips, and a cheeky bloody Mary at the end of the night!

Dave: The Lost Animal’s set at Cactus was definitely up there as a highlight for me. Such a good set. Packed room and everyone having a great time. And just the general atmosphere throughout the day, it felt like a party everywhere you went.

Tanya Gleeson, live music and events manager of the Northcote Theatre: Having RRR broadcast from our office was truly an amazing experience. Being able to watch everything behind the scenes and watch it all come to life was really something special to be a part of. It was incredible to see and feel the nurtured community spirit. Every single artist that took the stage brought something different. When Briggs took the stage, it was honestly an indescribable experience and we can’t wait to do it all again next year!

Christopher: Private Function filling the venue… and the street… and the 7/11 across the road, with people at 1pm is something we’ll remember forever.

Ali: Darcy Justice. She’s one of 24 Moons’ all-time favourites! And outside of 24 Moons, Milo Eastwood and J-Nett played killer sets.

Liam: Seeing all the punk-rockers dressed up to the nines for the Halloween-themed gig, and seeing all the bowling members getting amongst it and loving it. So good to see so many diverse groups come together for a good time.

Why are events like Super Saturday so important for the community?

Jeremy: Events like Super Saturday present a really unique opportunity for communities to explore and rally around venue spaces and artists that they normally may not hear about or have the chance to see otherwise. They create a platform for new discoveries, economic stimulation to local businesses, memorable social occasions for punters and are just an all-round good time.

Dave: I think it really draws attention to what an incredible music scene Melbourne has at it’s fingertips. To be able to pack out so many venues at the same time, with such amazing lineups, and to have those lineups so well received by everyone watching is really quite something. It just enforces what a major role music has in Melbourne.

Andrew: Days like this get involvement from live music casuals. Having the local community getting into venue spaces and experiencing what the local offerings provide gives the spaces a chance to build on their usual markets. It gives music back to the community. Being able to host free events lets a huge range of people experience the precinct, spend money on food, drink and in the other surrounding businesses, giving the broader economy a boost. It helps consolidate the arts and music lineage of our area in people’s minds, and highlights the boon to the local culture that music and the myriad of local venues are.

Christopher: Most obviously Super Saturday brought a much needed financial boost for Shotkickers, and I presume all of the venues along High Street, in what is a very turbulent time for live music venues. But ultimately it was so great to have hundreds and hundreds of people come through Shotkickers, who aren’t regular attendees. Events like Super Saturday are an opportunity to expand the number of people that attend gigs and local venues regularly by showing them how awesome they are and how fantastic our local music scene is.

Ali: Events like Super Saturday are so important as they benefit all sides of the music industry – artists, venues, workers and the fans. We are all still recovering from the pandemic years – every area of live music got hit so bad, so to have artists and venues properly supported and championed, as well as making it affordable for the public, was so great. A real shot-in-the-arm after the past few years. It really felt like we were back!

Liam: Apart from the revenue, it was great to see the whole community get involved. It creates a richness and togetherness throughout the whole community.



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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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