Watch radio come to life
“Where would we be without community radio?”
Courtney Barnett ends her radio set with a question that sums up this year’s PBS Drive Live. Over five nights, or drive time slots, this community radio station – the ‘home of little-heard music’ – is putting together an impressive line-up of local acts, including DD Dumbo, the Murlocs and Grammy nominees Hiatus Kaiyote.
Now in its third year, the Drive Live shows have seen the Twerps and Gareth Liddiard pass through in yeras gone by. Once again it's opening up its Collingwood studios for the public to check out the inside of a radio station and listen to some live music.
Tuesday night sees Collingwood locals the School of Radiant Living open the show with some folksy pop-rock lead by singer Harriet Stewart. Watching them play inside the studio is like looking at a fish bowl filled with musician, a bizarre feeling that quickly reminds you how often bands play without a band room of people for an audience. As they perform their "YouTube hit" 'Orc of the Gnomes', it's hard not to feel like a bit of a creep, watching a band perform with their backs to you, seemingly oblivious to the fact there's a room brimming with people on the other side of the window.
Next up are Melbourne boys the Stevens, breaking a string halfway through their set – and without missing a beat they keep on jamming as the guitar is fixed – a reminder this is radio and silence is sordid. 'Teenage Satellites' brings out the bands poppier side, like a grungy Beach Boys set in your living room.
The studio is small and fills up quickly, Coopers all round from a makeshift bar and that night’s line-up chalked onto the wall. In one studio is the band, in the other is the drive time host, no shoes, beer in hand, waiting as the bands finish to shepherd them in for a quick interview before playing the next songs. PBS has been around since the late ’70s, promoting local indie music and supporting the growth of Melbourne’s music scene, and Drive Live feels like the culmination of their effort: allowing some good live music to break the barrier between radio and audience.
The one performer that does acknowledge that hidden audience is recent Meredith performer Courtney Barnett. Her mellow and seamless set, blending country folk with garroulous lyrics, make for easy listening radio, not to mention a professional live performance with ‘Avant Gardener', and the rambling lyrics of ‘David’ energising the crowd. With her album Double EP: A Tale of Split Peas making it into the top 50 albums named by NME, and on the edge of heading on an overseas tour, Barnett is quickly making a name for herself and it's not hard to see why.
“Where would we be without community radio?” asks Barnett as she finishes up her set. “Sitting at home singing to ourselves.”
So if you're in the mood to sing along with a crowd and see some live acts, all for free, just RSVP to get your name on the door – and score a free beer if you’re a member. It’s that easy to support the local music scene.
GIGS STILL TO COME
Thursday 6th Feb on Fang It!:
Harry Howard and the NDE
Friday 7th Feb on Stone Love:
Sugar Fed Leopards
plus special guests The Night Party in Studio 2 with Richie 1250!