Marrickville music re-emerges
By ALEC SMART
Marrickville’s metropolis of music, theatre, breweries and eateries is slowly recovering from the compulsory social distancing and other restrictions implemented to combat the coronavirus pandemic. 2204 magazine spoke to Heather and Richard, the dynamic duo behind the bands at Marrickville Bowling Club, for their take on the post-covid comeback.
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
103 Marrickville Rd, Marrickville. Ph: 9550 3777
105 Victoria Rd, Marrickville. Ph: 9550 3666
115 Marrickville Rd, Marrickville. Ph: 9569 2668
The Great Club
160-164 Livingstone Rd, Marrickville
294 Marrickville Rd, Marrickville. Ph: 0450 008 563
Marrickville Bowling Club
91 Sydenham Rd, Marrickville. Ph: 9557 1185
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