It seems that every other week there is a fresh blow to the Australian live music scene. Whether it is the closure of a beloved venue, a street press going out of print, proposals of restrictive new laws or a festival going under due financial pressure (or in hip-hop festival Supafest’s case, extreme stupidity), there seems to be no end to local music’s case of the blues.
However, lobby group Fair Go 4 Live Music and their S.L.A.M. (Save Live Australian Music) initiative plan to rectify this.
On February 23rd, 2010, the inaugural S.L.A.M. rally saw over 20,000 punters take to the streets of Melbourne in the largest cultural protest Australia has ever seen. The protest was triggered by the Victorian government’s findings that unfairly connected live music with high-risk and anti-social behaviour. The rally certainly struck a chord (no pun intended) and later in the year, the Live Music Agreement was drawn up, a document that among other things announced that live music does not cause violence. Fair Go 4 Live Music’s commitment to their cause, not to mention their results, received plaudits from the music community as a whole.
Last year, February 23rd was the first National S.L.A.M. day. It was such a rousing success that it is back this year for another day of celebrating local music scenes all over the country. Over 200 venues (and counting) are registered for S.L.A.M. day gigs with big name artists such as Elvis Costello, Tim Finn, and Pete Murray joining an endless list of local favourites playing in all corners of the country.
That said S.L.A.M. day isn’t necessarily about the big names. It’s about going to a nearby bar, squeezing into the front row and dancing/swaying/rocking out/head banging with your sweaty compatriots. So grab some friends, pick a gig, any gig, and celebrate Australia’s rich live music culture on February 23rd (don’t worry 9-to-5ers, it’s Saturday).
To quote Billy Bragg, ‘You can experience a download but you can’t download an experience.’