From St Kilda To Kings Cross

A completed PhD investigating the geography of live music in Sydney and Melbourne between the 1980s and 2000s.

Northern Exposure – sample maps of the Taylor Project

Hello and welcome back. Since my last blog post, the historical spatial database is now considerably more populated and I’m in the process of using all this gig listings data to produce maps of Melbourne and Sydney for use in interviews.

During interviews I’d like to hear participants’ off-the-cuff interpretations of what those maps represent, so rather than post them all up here now, I’ve included a sample set of maps from my own band, the Taylor Project.

Coburg Better Block bike

We’ve been playing since 2007 and do seem to have a slight (read: total) bias against travelling south. We play in northern Victoria, and northern Melbourne. We also, unsurprisingly, live around these areas. However, I was a little taken aback to see the extent of this, as in the back of my mind I’d figured somewhere, sometime we must have played in St Kilda or something. But, no. We might as well have had those little bail-bond anklets on, giving electric shocks every time when went over the Yarra.

My initial interpretation of this is not that it represents an inherent dislike of, or from, any particular suburbs, but that it attests to the law of least resistance (though, ultimately, they are not unrelated concepts). We like playing gigs, indeed they are a core feature of what we do, but we’re not striving far afield, literally or figuratively, and we certainly don’t have an agency or a set of roadies. This set of day to day possibilities, lived over several thousand days, is rendered in plain (or plane) speaking maps. This initial interpretation also fits with a comment from my excellent test interviewee in January – one doesn’t want to add distance to the process of putting on gigs, as then it gets less and less like a party, and more like a kerfuffle. Plus the old “stumbling distance” rule of thumb holds a lot of weight too. I’m pretty sure I can see some ghost tram lines in there!

Some of the significant venues seen below are now, sadly, no more. The Stork, The Empress, the East Brunswick among them. But others are still going strong. And there’s lots of perfectly nice venues that we just don’t play at – music scenes, after all, are relationships negotiated in place, not a static Stonehenge of venues. You might like to compare these maps with those presented in an older post on the Models and Boys Next Door, circa 1980, showing very different renderings of Melbourne.

If you know of some other publicly available “gigographies” then let me know. They can be fun to generate maps on.

Also a warning that these are low res, quickly produced maps. I hope they are still interesting and I’d love to hear your interpretations of what they say about the Taylor Project, and/or how they might compare to other bands.




2 comments on “Northern Exposure – sample maps of the Taylor Project

  1. Tania
    January 29, 2014

    Hey Sarah,
    That’s really interesting.
    It made me question where The Soubrettes have performed and even though I’m a southerner, I would say that we have performed overwhelmingly north of the river.
    When choosing a venue for a show I used to consider the likelihood of local residents coming to the show. I suspected that we wouldn’t get as many people coming to our show in the south. Don’t know if it’s true or not but that’s my 3 cents worth. (Plus this was a looooong time ago… having not performed for yonks).

    Also how many venues can you actually gig at in the south? Surely there are fewer? Surely?

  2. sarahtaylor247
    January 29, 2014

    Hi Tania –
    Yes that’s a good point; when you know your audience will hum and hah about transport, parking, bed times, feeding pets, etc., the whole thing becomes less viable so you tend not to pursue it. There must be an effort to outcome equation going on for performers and audience alike…Distance + tired = “nice warm bed”. Proximity + in a good mood = “sure”. Proximity + in a bad mood = “I guess so, it’s better than staying home stewing”. Something like that.

    I remember attending Soubrettes shows at Manchester Lane, Kit Kat club, and Bennetts Lane, all in the city. Which suited your show, and were convenient for city workers and for people coming in from the suburbs. Although you also did those regional touring things, with community arts centres? I can’t remember how they were organized, was it through a third party? They must have been a different experience.

    There are indeed more venues north of the river, but St Kilda shows a surprising resilience. It seems to be a kind of service centre of going out, for everyone in the suburbs beyond. In the most recent count there are 8 venues in St Kilda, 19 in Brunswick, 16 in Fitzroy, 2 in Prahran, 4 in Richmond, and 33 (yes, 33) in the city. The Esplanade puts on a very large number of shows, so it does shift the numbers significantly even if there are fewer venues. Likewise, Revolver Upstairs and The Corner tend to do a lot of shows even though they are a bit on their own.

    Certainly it’s a very different picture to the late 1970s, in terms of the north/south ratio. But the “I can’t be bothered” divide has been there for just as long.
    The city seems to be a good for many people and that, perhaps, is what is coming through in the numbers, and seems to be increasing (in 2006 there were 23).

    That said, some of my friends do live in the south east and I feel bad when they make the trek but we don’t reciprocate. Maybe we should try it once a year or something. Which is pretty much how often I go to St Kilda. Again, I don’t mind it, but it’s over there and unless I cultivate an amphetamines habit, it’ll be too tiring.


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This entry was posted on January 29, 2014 by in General Interest, Sample maps and tagged , , , , , , , .

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