Australian Musos Roll Up Their Sleeves In Support Of Live Music 

Kavina Kumar
Kavina Kumar

We may have been down, but the September 4 announcement of a return to live music being dependent on 85% of the population getting vaccinated has sent our aussie Musos and industry reps into action with the new #VaxtheNation campaign. It’s become clear that to stop the interruptions to live music, the responsibility falls on the community to show up, so we can get back on the road. And as those of us in the industry know, live shows don’t just mean live entertainment, they mean we can get back to doing what we love – and getting paid. 

Since Brisbane band Powderfinger is supplying ‘My Happiness’ as the anthem for the campaign, we thought we’d keep it straight up local and talk to Dan Burke: the guy who has supplied happiness to the Underground scene, by bringing Brisbane the world’s best DJs in Trance, Progressive and Techno, not just amidst the COVID DOWNERS, but for the past 12 years. With his experience in filling the floor with thousands of dance lovers, we managed to score his perspective on pushing through this next phase and supporting your community.

Dan puts it best by stating that: ”We have to stay positive. Music is all about enjoyment. And that’s the mindset you need to take to the dance floor. What can I / We do to make this more enjoyable?”

Ummmm… get vaccinated. That’s what you can do. 

So, once again the Musos are here to save the day!

It’s another classic hero story, the ones who’ve suffered the most – literally R.I.P live music, have risen from the ashes of defeat to bring you one last HURRAH! The #VaxtheNation initiative is brought to us by the LIVE Alliance and has garnered the official support of over 400 acts including Paul Kelly, Jimmy Barnes, Powderfinger, RU?FU?S DU SOL, and Courtney Barnett, alongside major Aussie record labels, tour promoters, ticketing agencies, and festival organisers. Live Nation and Frontier Touring even put their rivalry aside and both started competitions for VAX STAGE PASSES, available to those who are fully vaccinated, to push the GET VAXXED message to their patrons. 

Kavina: How do you feel about this 85% news?

Dan: “This is a bit of a hard one, as essentially the government is saying it’s up to us to get it sorted. I feel it’s unfair, as the majority want to get their shot and get it done quickly but governments are traditionally bad at rolling anything out. Think about things like the Pink Bats saga, the referendum on gay marriage, etc. But for some reason, the general public is punished for it.” 

So… Where do we stand on this 85% of #vaxingthenation?

Overall, 70.5% of adult Australians have had one vaccination and 44.4% have had both. While the chief executive of Live Performance Australia – Evelyn Richardson kindly (finally) gave us the 85% margin, this percentage is only estimated to be met in late December or early next year. Yes, that means there’s more waiting, but still, there’s an endgame in sight! And one that we’ve been ready for, as evident by the fact that it only took 2 days for the music community to respond by rolling up their sleeves and start the campaign that would encourage you to do the same – lol, we see what they did there. 

While Dan started in the Trance music era, he continued to evolve with the times, and always managed to push through because of his love for music, first and foremost. His vision for bringing us the guys who come over for big gigs like PITCH fest and Rainbow Serpent, but end up loving the intimate stopovers in Brisbane has paid off, because of which, we’ve witnessed the infamous 6-hour sets from Hernan Cattaneo – a pusher of Australian dance music, to Jody Wisternoff, Scuba, Dubfire and Sasha, all in our own backyard.

His extensive overseas roster was entirely canceled for the past two years, but one of the biggest hits was seeing the home of his events have to close its doors.  

Me: What was your feeling for the industry when Sub Rosa closed its doors? 

Dan: “It was heartbreak, just pure sadness. Venues have been hit hard, and yet had minimal support. When the doors aren’t open, it’s still costing money. And when you are told you can open, but only at 50 or 25% capacity, your fixed cost doesn’t change. The major bodies didn’t reduce their fees by 50%. I didn’t see licensing fees or insurance costs drop.

I’m hopeful that most venues can bounce back, but here we are getting close to two years of this, and you can only keep treading water for so long.”

We need to start, or we’ll never get back to work. 

Besides being the first industry to completely shut down, resulting in the $24bn revenue loss that’s struck our economy, it’s been an ongoing battle of lockdowns, border closures, and restrictions that have resulted in 80k jobs lost by 2020, and the industry itself only operating at about 4%. 

While some venues like The Tivoli did receive government funding, their creative director – Dave Sleswick said “it was still traumatic even though we gratefully received some support.” Other institutions in the music community such as Sub Rosa missed out completely and were forced to shut their doors in early August as a result.

There is no time to be shy about your pro-vax status – this is show business BB

If you’re feeling a little Guy Sebastian – you might be going backward and forwards about speaking up about your PRO VAX status, and honestly, that’s understandable. But let the Amity Affliction appeal to your humanitarian status by reminding you that “getting vaccinated is a way to protect those most vulnerable in our society. It’s not about you, or me. It’s about us.” – CUUUTE.

And it’s not just about the return to live events, it’s about a return to livelihood in an industry that is an identity to those who have dedicated their lives to it. And it’s about the safety of everyone to attend live events, and work in those areas without putting themselves at risk. 

Me: What do you think about taking an active role in encouraging the dance community to get their shots?

Dan: “I 100% support this, plain and simple. Get your shot, get back to dancing. People consume stuff and have no idea where it came from, yet they want to have a whinge about something done under medical supervision overseen by hundreds of doctors. Please give me a break.” – lol. I can’t argue that. 

Controversy vs. supporting your community

Melbourne’s Revolver (the infamous hotspot) copped a bit of flack for supporting voluntary vaccination. (*Facepalm) David Welsh, the owner of MONA, was the first in a cultural space to mandate that all employees would need to be vaccinated if they wanted to continue employment at the museum. And the best of our chefs teamed up to rep the Foodie scene with their campaign – Put the Jab on the Menu, to push support on behalf of Australian hospo.

Me: Do you think that venues are facing a controversial dilemma?

Dan: “So there is no dilemma for me at all. Just like venues support things like the One Punch campaign or anything involved in reducing harm, they should embrace vaccine support in the same way. I have no idea why you wouldn’t want to be jumping on board.

The only other alternative is entry based on a mandatory Vaccine Passport 

Green Passports have been put on the table as an alternative condition of entry to certain venues where transmission is a concern, especially with ever-evolving strains like DELTA continuing to sweep us off our dance shoes. While Dan doesn’t agree with a vaccine passport, – “it’s saying we don’t trust the wider community to do the right thing,” – heated discussions continue to call for allowing hospitality owners to run their restaurants without having to halt because of the wider nation’s beliefs. – If you don’t like it, don’t come for dinner. After taking a leaf from its implementation in European countries, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has openly discussed a vaccine economy for Victoria and NSW has a similar double dose requirement in the works. 

*Alternatively to the alternative… musicians can just start playing for major sporting events from now on. *cough cough.

On a hella positive note though, the future is bright for Aussie DJs and producers.  

We needed to hear it first and foremost from a promoter who has toured close to 100 international acts and completely changed his mindset after successfully highlighting homegrown talent during COVID. After “socially-restricted” or politely-packed tours from Melbournes Anthony Pappa, Jamie Stevens, and GMJ, – to headlining parties with our very own local legends like Rich Curtis and Cosmo Cater, Dan is pretty vocal about the eye-opening level of support.“It’s funny to see everyone frothing over the big international DJs that come here, but those big international DJs are playing banging tracks made by Aussie artists. A great example is Hernan Cattaneo, he’s a massive pusher or GMJ & Matter – two amazing producers from Melbourne, yet they are still quite unknown in the wider music scene.”  

And just to leave you with all of the warm fuzzies, I’m not even going to edit Dan’s unprompted response to my question about the future for Aussie dance music, because Muso agrees wholeheartedly. 

Me: What are your thoughts for the future Australian dance music scene/ and where does Lemon & Lime want to fit? – ( I honestly thought he was going to say: tour DJ Solomon.)

Dan: I want to see Aussie dance music have a feature role when it comes to big events and tours. These last 12-18 months have been shocking for artists, but at the same time, the exposure and spotlight shone on Aussie acts has been massive. I don’t think I can recall a time where so many events both club and festival had purely Australian headline artists. I think that is proof that our artists can and deserve just as much top billing and exposure as an international act. We’ve all been bitterly spoiled over the years from some of the international acts that have graced our shores, and I’m first to admit I’m guilty of putting them over Aussie acts. But after running some AUS-only headlined shows, I’ve been blown away by the success and support from our punters. And as we get back to normality, I’ll be doing more and more AUS-based shows.

What did we tell ya???!!!! Now, let’s get back to work!! 

In the meantime, if you’re feeling confident and ready to get out there and kick COVID to the curb, get your Muso Profile looking schmick so you can hit the ground running, because there’s only one thing more infectious than COVID, and it’s the power of music to send the message quickly!