“I really do think that Darwin at the moment is parallel to Seattle before the grunge explosion,” says Zac East, making no bones about his opinion on the current health of Darwin’s largely underground music scene. “There are a lot of great acts that are happening at the moment and it’s not going to be too long before Darwin is what’s happening.”
East is one of the organisers behind HEAVYbyHEAVY, a concert-cum-onslaught of seven of the Territory’s best rock bands straitjacketed into one night. This Friday at Darwin Entertainment Centre marks the event’s third year, boasting a lineup well-respected in local live music circles: Burrfoot, Unbroken Expanse, The Wicked Garden, Sex In The Desert, Bear Essence, Chasin’ Aces and Pole Top Rescue.
“Ultimately HEAVYbyHEAVY is about showcasing local artists on a high quality level, because they are high quality bands,” East says adamantly, referring to the production value the Darwin Entertainment Centre will provide the bands on the night. He adds that HEAVYbyHEAVY works to actively tackle the problem of the current lack of recognition of the Territory’s burgeoning musical talent. It’s a situation not unlike Seattle’s now near-figurative experience, where the dismal amount of notice the greater American music industry paid local bands in the 80s meant that the rest of the world was wholly unprepared for Nirvana’s Nevermind, an album which consequently tore a hole in the very fabric of how rock and roll was understood as a genre.
While East refrains from announcing HEAVYbyHEAVY’s intention to make rock history via its own homegrown constituents, he does express an aim to draw local attention to those first-rate bands right on their collective doorsteps. “I still hear all the time that people don’t know what’s going on,” he says. “All they hear about is what’s happening at Hot Potato or Discovery. But people should really get on board and see these bands before they start to go elsewhere. Unbroken Expanse are a great example. They’ll be touring nationally with [popular Melbourne band and Triple J stalwarts] British India next year, and they’re just a band from Tennant Creek.”
East is philosophical about why local rock bands are something to be excited about right now: “I think it’s two things. First of all, before [metal promoters] Top End Terror started putting on more high quality metal shows and integrating the rock stuff into it as well, there was nothing really to aspire to. If you were lucky you’d get Darwin Festival, and if you were really lucky you’d get Bass In The Grass - but they’re not really about supporting local music. Sure you’d book your own show at the Happy Yess, but then it was, ‘Yay. 15 people,’” East says, himself frontman for grungy outfit The Wicked Garden, hastening to add he means no disrespect to the venue that has in many ways been the axis around which local live music has evolved. “But yeah, previously there were no larger gigs that were accessible to bands and punters, so there was no real showcase of the talent.”
“Secondly, it’s really starting to gain traction that there is stuff happening here,” East says simply. “There really is a big vibrant scene happening. The bar is being lifted.”
Words: Alice Body
WHERE: Darwin Entertainment Centre
WHEN: Fri 7 Sep | 6:30pm
INFO/ BOOKING: www.darwinentertainment.com.au | 8980 3333