Under Siege: Sydney’s Late Night Music Scene
By Tom Warneke
Being torn limb from limb in Australia, Sydney’s live music scene is in a war against broad sweeping measures to protect people from a harmful minority but offering them no place to go.
The world over, for thousands of years, there’s always been a battle from the ardent right to minimise the importance of the late night. It happens organically. People see many different groups of people and attempt to apply a broad brush to these people as one. We see this often when talking about the music industry, going to late night gigs and pop music alongside alcohol, drugs and street violence. Often in the conservative right, the view is these are all the same thing – They couldn’t be more wrong.
Of course, I’m not going to sugar coat things – Live music, alcohol and late nights all can go hand in hand.
But rather than taking everything away in one foul swoop, should we not look at the problem itself – the violence, not the music.
We see this in the streets of Sydney now with the rise of the KEEPSYDNEYOPEN campaign – brought about to combat the city’s draconian and poorly considered lockout laws that attempt to fix a broken arm with a full-frontal lobotomy.
The treatment does not fit the disease. Sydney had a problem with alcohol fueled violence so to combat this, introduced Lock out laws to stop people accessing licensed premises after certain times.
This ultimately forced the closure of many iconic Sydney based venues where many international talents cut their teeth. This also means these fertile breeding grounds for new talent are lost with no replacements in sight.
Not only this but it doesn’t actually fix the problem. The issue isn’t alcohol – we need only look to more progressive landscapes like… Europe? The levels of alcohol fueled violence are far lower where there were a tolerance, appreciation and understanding for alcohol and it’s effects as well as a long-held tradition of respect for others when imbibing and celebrating.
So, before we start shutting down venues, closing them or seeing collateral damage like a nation’s vibrant live music scene because we see a problem in the periphery, maybe we tackle the problem itself – people being dickheads.
It’s a new program being trialled in a few locations like where I am now (Dubai) and where I’ve recently come from (Macau) whereby if you drink too much, your friends look after you and make sure you get home safely.
There’s an add-on to this program whereby if you do something stupid, get angry and start abusing people your fellow late night compatriots call you out on it. They stop you from going any further. Of course, this program also goes hand in hand with another program that has an ever-lowering subscription rate that you may have heard of – Personal responsibility?
It’s time we started to see the good for what it is and how it can benefit our cities. Let’s see the bad for what it is, a tiny minority a world apart from the live music scene itself.
How do we fix this? Don’t be an idiot, look after your mates. Have some respect for the other people around you out to have a great time. What happens when we do it this way? Everybody actually gets to have a good time.