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Revival of Marrickville Music Scene Post Covid

By ALEC SMART


The Marrickville music scene, theatre, breweries and eateries are slowly recovering from the coronavirus pandemic. 2204 magazine spoke to Heather and Richard, the dynamic duo behind the bands at Marrickville Bowling Club on the post-covid comeback.


Generation Landslide part of Marrickville music scene

Generation Landslide. Photo: Alec Smart


When it comes to live music, Marrickville is the beating heart of the inner west with a multitude of musical meccas. These range in size from the 800 capacity Factory Theatre to the more intimate Bush Music Club, which operates from a former WWI army barrack in the Addison Road Centre.


Although the worldwide coronavirus pandemic adversely affected restaurants, pubs and theatres across the nation with a year of closed venues followed by seated shows, Marrickville’s live music venues are again filling their event calendars as concerts are advertised for the foreseeable future.


Marrickville Bowling Club - the ‘Bowlo’ - is a mid-sized venue (capacity 400) that draws a loyal crowd and regularly features touring and overseas artists, with music ranging across a wide variety of genres.


Turbobelco. Photo: Alec Smart


Richard Ball, Marrickville Bowlo’s principal sound engineer, instigated the venue’s dynamic live music program eight years ago when the club was a small community bowling green with occasional acoustic acts. He told us, “I have a model that dates back to 1978: it should be friendly for the bands, friendly for the venue, and not too many middle-men..”


In a celebrated coup, Midnight Oil played the first show of their 2017 Great Circle world tour here, a ‘secret’ reunion gig after a hiatus of 15 years. Despite the secrecy, the Oils attracted a massive turnout of fans queuing around the block, eagerly welcoming back the distinguished veterans prior to playing 77 shows in 16 countries.


Richard mused on the Bowlo’s successful return to the forefront of Marrickville’s entertainment scene after the dearth of any live music during Sydney’s Covid-19 lockdown. “You have to be subconsciously ‘cool’ with people… It’s about fulfilling a brief. Firstly, we’re a quality rock ‘n’ roll venue, but, secondly, we’re community-based with audiences and bands that are predominantly local. Now we’ve returned to putting on regular gigs again, I’ve received so many hugs from people, many of whom I haven’t seen for a year.”


Neptune Power Federation. Photo: Alec Smart


“This year has been hard,” night manager Heather added, “because we have to get people to sit down and make sure they sign in properly along with all the [Covid-19] rules and regulations that every club and pub has been under… We had a lot of people asking us ‘when is the music coming back?’ And although we complied with the seated shows, the vibe was completely different, like the soul was missing.”


“I don’t believe music is an intellectual process,” Richard considered. “I believe it’s an emotional process. It just feels good to be here, and it’s really that simple and that’s why so many people are pleased to be back and enjoying live music again!”


However, we’re not yet free of the cursed Covid-19, as Melbourne’s latest contagion and city-wide lockdown reveals. Meantime, live music venues are gradually adjusting to the ‘new normal’ with the resumption of concerts and permission to dance and socialise without wearing masks (although we’re still obligated to check-in when entering venues).



Midnight Oil played the first concert of their 2017 Great Circle

world tour at Marrickville Bowlo. Photo: Alec Smart


Other Marrickville venues that have returned to hosting live music include the following favourites: Bush Music Club, Camelot Lounge, Factory Theatre, Gasoline Pony, Lazybones Lounge, Mothership Studios, Red Rattler Theatre and Vic on the Park.

In addition to these is Marrickville’s newest venue, The Great Club, which opened in Feb 2021.


Bush Music Club

Hut 44, 144 Addison Rd Marrickville. Ph: 0466 877 423


Camelot Lounge

103 Marrickville Rd, Marrickville. Ph: 9550 3777


Factory Theatre

105 Victoria Rd, Marrickville. Ph: 9550 3666


Gasoline Pony

115 Marrickville Rd, Marrickville. Ph: 9569 2668


The Great Club

160-164 Livingstone Rd, Marrickville


Lazybones Lounge

294 Marrickville Rd, Marrickville. Ph: 0450 008 563


Marrickville Bowling Club

91 Sydenham Rd, Marrickville. Ph: 9557 1185


Mothership Studios

18-22 Sydney St, Marrickville. Ph: 0403 916 984


Red Rattler Theatre

6 Faversham St, Marrickville. Ph: 9565 1044


Vic on the Park

2 Addison Rd, Marrickville. Ph: 9114 7348



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