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Welcome to

$Jack Saltmiras and Blake Wassell play The Gate's Living Room series in April 2012
Image: Jack Saltmiras and Blake Wassell play The Gate's Living Room series in April 2012 Photo by Matt Davis

This exists because it needs to.

Halfway through 2022, live music in Sydney is still clawing its way back to normalcy after a bruising decade of lockouts and lockdowns. Plenty of people still, quite justifiably, can't risk their health by going out to a show, and wouldn’t even if more punters were willing to mask up. Gigs and parties and plans still feel fragile, the threat of a sniffle or a positive RAT or a disrupted flight or any number of tiny disasters lying in wait like tripwires, and ticket prices and cover charges have crept up as artists and venues try to counterweight all the uncertainties. Streets that ten years ago were free-for-all good-time buffets five nights a week have completed their transformation into ugly apartments sold by people who use “character” as an adjective and bought by people who sit in them on a Friday night and make noise complaints. The vibes, in short, are off.

But green shoots of hope keep sprouting up through the concrete. Scroll through the gig guide and you’ll almost certainly find a venue or two that you might not have heard of before, let alone been to. Drinking holes you know and love are working behind the scenes to see if they can carve out a space for performance. People who turned 18 during lockdowns are now 19 and 20 and rolling up to their third-ever live show with wild-eyed joy. It’s been so long since a beloved small venue has been gutted and turned into a Holey Moley that jokes about beloved small venues being gutted and turned into Holey Moleys feel hacky and dated. Artists and crew who spent the last two years feeling abandoned by the government are roaring back into the world full of piss and vinegar and newly awakened activist rage and creative energy and they don’t even seem to mind having the same conversations over and over about how good it is to be back because it really, truly is so good to be back.

It’s OK if you’ve fallen off a bit — if it still feels a little weird to be back in cramped spaces with strangers or to drink a beer standing up, or if you’ve sheepishly admitted to friends or yourself that you want to go out but you just don’t know where to go to find good live music these days. If there’s one thing that’s become clear as we’ve laboriously, manually updated the gig guide a couple of times a week for the past two months, it’s that there’s a lot of good stuff happening, and that spotlighting it in a way that's useful and meaningful is not a job an algorithm can do just yet.

Beyond the primary purpose of telling people where and when live music is happening, the content of will be 90% composed of things that need to exist: how-to guides for putting on gigs, recommendations of artists or venues that deserve extra attention, documents of beautiful and vital moments, and informed analysis of problems facing the city and its scenes and the people who make up the city and its scenes. The other 10% will be of debatable necessity but still, we hope, worth your time and attention. Most importantly, it will be shaped by the people who use it — if you'd like to contribute something, make a suggestion, or tell us what we're missing, hit us up. is not for profit. It will not be sponcon, breathless first-to-the-story news posts, brand collabs, SEO, data mining, Web 3.0, hot takes, or growth hacking. All those things have their place in the media economy, and some entities are even able to use these tools wisely and well. (Except Web3. That’s a wash so far.) But there is no imperative here beyond being as useful as possible to as many people as possible. We’re not trying to get you to spend as much time here as we can so that we can sell ads or products, or even to check in every day. It will just be here for you — get in, get what you need, and get out there.

Caitlin Welsh
14 Jun 2022