10 facts about Melbourne Music Week on its 10th anniversary

November is a very prolific week in Australia in terms of music.

Last week, on 15 November, Aussie music fans were repping their favourite bands during the #AusmusicTshirtDay (check out my post about it here). The Spilt Milk festival will be taking place on 23 November in Canberra, ACT and – for the first time – on 30 November in Ballarat, VIC. The Australian Music Industry Awards – the ARIAs – will be held on 27 November. And we are now in the second half of another awesome event – the Melbourne Music Week (MMW).

PART 22 OF “AM I EVER GONNA SEE YOUR FACE AGAIN?” A RANDOM COLLECTION OF UNKNOWINGLY OBVIOUS FACTS ABOUT AUSTRALIAN MUSIC SCENE

Why organise a music week in a city where live music happens every day anyway? To “deep dive in to our city’s music scene, discover the new and experience the great”, say the organisers on the event’s website. And it’s true. This year MMW has presented a truly impressive program. Between 14 and 23 November 70 events with 300 acts in over 65 venues are taking place. All genres, more and less known artists, unique venues and noteworthy events (not necessarily gigs). Most importantly, though, it is an initiative fully endorsed and supported by both the City of Melbourne and Victorian Government.

And because it is MMW’s 10th anniversary, here are the 10 “most” facts from its history so far. In my opinion 🙂

THE MOST UNUSUAL HQ’S – MMW 2016

What do you think of when you hear the word “music”. Loud, right? And what about “library”? Silence is what comes to my mind. Well, that wasn’t the case for MMW in 2016. The City Council made the beautiful and historic State Library available as the command centre for Melbourne’s flagship music event. And their tagline was precisely “breaking the silence at State Library Victoria”. And break the silence they did.

THE MOST DANCY EVENT – MMW 2013

What kind of music fan are you? The “I Only Listen to Music” type or the “Strictly Come Dancing” one? If you’re the latter, then you would have loved the No Lights No Lycra (NLNL) free dance class at the MMW 2013. This is a global dance project which allows you to enjoy your moves in other’s people company but without being judged. Because you dance in the dark. You should try it one day.

THE CRAZIEST GIG – MMW 2017

In 2017 St Paul’s Cathedral (!) was chosen as the HQs for MMW. Crazy, right? But there was an even crazier event staged inside the cathedral itself – a techno (!!) party. And in case that wasn’t enough on the craziness level, DJ Hell (!!!) from Germany (!!!!) was on the decks, in charge of the Saturday night gig. Hellish crazy, I’d say. And punters loved it!

THE MOST STAR-STUDDED LINE-UP- MMW 2018

Just to be clear: this is the most subjective category and I’m sure a lot of “experts” might disagree. But I think that MMW 2018 was one of the most “celebrity” packed editions. And I’m not only referring to artists, amongst them: You Am I, Regurgitator, BATZ, Ali Barter, Jebediah, Gretta Ray, Jen Cloher, Kira Puru, Allday, REMI or Something for Kate. It was also about the venues that participated, like Section 8, Cherry Bar, The Toff, Boney, Geddes Lane Ballroom, Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, Flemington Bowls Club, the NGV Great Hall, MPavilion or Meat Market. I’m not sure how they can ever beat that.

THE MOST MYSTERIOUS EXPERIENCE – MMW 2015

If you don’t know what SWELL Live is, you’re totally missing out. They curate interactive music experiences in unique spaces in Melbourne. And they have teamed up with MMW a few times already, including in 2019. But it was their 2015 experience, staged in different areas of the former Royal Women’s Hospital, that got my attention. Precisely because of the spooky venue.

THE FUNNIEST EVENT – MMW 2014

2014 was the year when MMW really made the effort to put on events for kids. And not just your regular playground “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” sing-alongs. One of the events was a “MASSIVE Hip-Hop Choir for Babies”. I’m not joking. It was described as “an interactive body percussion and choral singing workshop designed specifically for babies and their carers.” Not sure I know what that really means but I’m kinda sad I missed it 🙂

THE COOLEST VENUE – MMW 2014

Also in 2014, when you got on a tram in Melbourne, you were already IN an MMW venue. If you knew which tram to board, that is. And that only happened provided you solved some clues and puzzles, related to the city’s music scene. That’s right. Tram Sessions is a pretty well known Melbourne live music initiative which became a part of the 2014 program. From 7.30pm to 1am music fans were invited to ride the MMW trams listening to music FOR FREE.

THE MOST REWARDING INITIATIVE – ONGOING

MMW events are mostly curated by the city organisers. But, throughout the years, individual artists, event organisers or smaller and less known venues have put on amazing events with the help and mentorship of the industry’s professionals. This is particularly reflected through the Live Music Safari concept. Since MMW is all about diving deeper into the Melbourne music scene, creativity and initiative are strongly encouraged. That’s why every year ideas for new events are welcome and they enter a competition to be included in the MMW’s program, along with securing funding from the City Council.

THE MOST AUTHENTIC EXPERIENCE – MMW 2011

If you’re a little more than just a music fan but not exactly a musician, you might be interested in things that lie in between. Like how a musical piece is created and what stages it goes through. That journey from conception to final product was one of the events offered by MMW in 2011. Record and Release was a two-day session where “punters [were able to] watch musicians record, mix and master their work, [and] then return the following night to listen to the newly recorded music”. In my opinion, something definitely to be repeated in the future editions.

THE MOST IMPORTANT DISCUSSION – MMW 2019

Music is great. But it also impacts the environment in ways that we sometimes don’t even consider (I wrote about it here). That’s why it’s essential that the industry brings awareness to issues like plastic pollution at gigs or noise that live music creates for the neighbours. MMW is fully committed to sustainability. And one of this year’s talks was dedicated to that topic as well.

I haven’t been to every MMW and I wasn’t at the first one, either. For some weird reason, I couldn’t find anything in the public records about how it all started in 2010. So my plea to the MMW organisers is to create some sort of archive to showcase the history and progress of this iconic Melbourne celebration of its live music scene. And if such a thing already exists, please do let me know how to access it.

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