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