A completed PhD investigating the geography of live music in Sydney and Melbourne between the 1980s and 2000s.
Hi everyone –
Here’s a link to my recent contribution to Cordite Poetry Review, February 1st 2015:
The theme of this edition of Cordite is “Obsolete”.
Here’s a preview of the content, and please have a look at the article itself and at Cordite in general.
As with many other industries, live music in Australia has undergone a form of restructuring. Much of this occurred during the 1990s, though it wasn’t so obvious at the time and there were plenty of other interesting things happening, often within stumbling distance of one’s affordable inner-city rental accommodation. As an introduction to this story of change felt in place, over time, this article discusses changes to live music in Australian cities between the 1980s and the 2000s, transitioning from an industry heyday of sorts, towards a more familiar landscape of organised activism focused on saving inner-city music venues (see, for example: Faulkner 2013; Homan 2011; Levin 2014). The starting point for discussion is a set of maps and figures derived from gig listings in Melbourne and Sydney in three respective sample years, forming a necessarily brief but novel ‘forest through the trees’ perspective on long-range change.
Among the map data are some venue names from the past which may be familiar or surprising to readers, depending on the time frame in which they went out the most. But beyond the bricks and mortar of the venues – and one can, in several cases, ‘buy a brick’ to save a particular venue – the data also speak to the human geography of music, and, to borrow a useful phrase, its ‘lost geographies of power’ (Allen 2003). Over the years there has been no decline in the number of performers, or even music venues, in Sydney or Melbourne. The changes are more spatial. They trend towards the diminishing role of organisational oligarchs but also the spatial agglomeration of gigs and musicians, a map writ large by the collective web of ‘spatial leashes’ which accompany DIY creative work.