OPINION: More than the working-class cliches
May 16, 2012 5 Comments
The only music that comes out of Wollongong is hard rock, punk and metal… right? If you listened to most media banter around music in the Illawarra, that’s the impression you’d get. Of course, you’d be wrong, but that’s the impression you’d get. Typically a working-class area, Wollongong has typically produced and embraced working-class music (probably why Cold Chisel can sell out the Entertainment Centre, playing the same songs from when they were 20 years younger and 30 kilograms lighter), but today there’s a quickly swelling number of acts bubbling away just beneath the surface, looking to change public perceptions of music in Wollongong. Scratch the surface, take a closer look, and you’ll find a wave of artists that – pound for pound – could challenge the musical diversity of any other area in Australia.
There is maybe no more distinct and noticeable indicator of the shifting paradigms of the local music scene, than the fact that our most prominent, popular and promising young artists are creating work that does cannot be stuffed into the “loud, heavy and simple” pigeonhole that many are quick to shove Wollongong music into. Take for example, Alotta Presha. The eight member reggae/dub (that’s got nothing to do with “dubstep,” for all you Skrillex aficionados playing along at home) outfit have quickly developed into one of the region’s most loved and talented outfits, with sets at Rainbow Serpent and Foreshore festival, a headline spot at Stacked Music Festival, support slots for The Herd and Thundamentals, packed-out local shows wherever they play, and serious love from Sydney radio station FBI.
For another, try Rocking Horse & The Baby Dolls. The rhythm’n’blues ensemble filled the Heritage Hotel to the brim for their EP launch a few weeks back, won the UOW band comp in 2011, have toured up and down the East Coast, and singer Christie would give any soul singer in the country a run for their money. Consider, too, Tommy M & The Mastersounds, the insanely youthful reggae eight-piece (yes, there’s a bunch of eight-piece bands around) who have won pretty much every competition there is to win in the region, and will be one of the more entertaining live acts you see.
Bec Sandridge has scored massive plaudits from overseas, and already completed a handful of international tours, while Bennie James is a semi-permanent fixture in the Sydney music scene. There’s a strong indie pop scene led by Jenny Broke The Window and Round The Corner, as well as Beaten Bodies and Firelucy tapping into some bluesy, soulful stuff. We’ve got outstanding electronic prospects in This Mess, Elliphant, Reactionary and Moonbase Commander, producing the sort of music almost never seen before in Wollongong; a burgeoning hip-hop scene led by Common Grounds, Cass Clay and Mass Effect; and folk-pop acts Yetis, Vicious Dickens, Paisley Park and Obscura Hail, bringing a much-welcomed tender touch to the local scene.
If you didn’t know already, Wollongong is no longer a town solely producing rock and metal. Pound for pound, our scene is as strong, vibrant and diverse as any other area in Australia. Get out and see for yourself.