I moved to Melbourne when I was fresh out of school. 18 years old. I got a job as a builder's labourer fixing bathrooms in a brothel in South Melbourne. I earned a little bit of money, quit university after only ducking my head in a handful of lectures and went out at night looking for what I moved up for. Music.
Melbourne is the music capital of Australia. There is no other city in the country that comes close to it, and the people are passionate and energetic about it, even in the cold depths of winter.
When I moved up and started writing songs, I immersed myself in everything I could within the Melbourne music scene. I went out and saw gigs night after night, attended all the cultural and community radio events I could. I was (and still am!) like a kid in candy store, except the stores are called The Tote, The Old Bar, The Northcote Social Club, The Corner Hotel and The Forum Theatre.
Some of the best shows I've seen in my life have taken place on a cold Monday or Tuesday night at The Old Bar or Workers Club and I've met some amazing people in these places. I first ran into a young Courtney Barnett when I was 19 in Old Bar, and now she's crushing the globe with the best songs going around! In my first year of playing shows I played around 80 gigs in Melbourne alone, more than 3 a fortnight. It's pretty amazing that a city can facilitate you to do that. It's wonderful.
The Tote Hotel
It's a gross, smelly, sweaty, BEAUTIFUL rock venue. Every great Australian rock and roll band in the past 30 years has probably graced that stage. It closed for a brief period because of government liquor licensing laws, but after that 20,000 people marched the streets in Melbourne in protest and the laws were reversed. Don't fuck with the Tote - but get in there and have a few beers because it's awesome.
The Community Cup
An annual Australian Rules Football match held between the RRR/PBS Megahertz (community radio broadcasters) and the Rockdogs (musicians from all around the country). It usually draws a huge crowd of 15-20,000 people. Bands play before, at half time and after the game. Entry is 10 bucks and all proceeds go to charity. Many beers are drank and good times are had.
Dick Diver are a really great Melbourne band that I love. They play awesome jangly, guitar pop music and their lyrics to me are a great example of modern Australian poetry. Check them out.
You Am I
Last but not least, You Am I are my favourite Australian band, ever. Indie rock and roll legends with a career spanning 20-something years and 9 studio albums, their frontman and primary songwriter, Tim Rogers holds credit to a large handful of some of the greatest Australian rock songs ever. Love it.
Fraser's debut album, 'Slow Gum', is out now on House Anxiety / Marathon Artists. Like him on Facebook here.