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Pub Choir

It’s the singing phenomenon that’s taken Brisbane by storm and Darwin won’t be missing out, when Pub Choir arrives for a most spectacular seaside sing-along at the Ski Club this July.

By Liz Trevaskis

Beer loving choirmaster Astrid Jorgenson spoke to Off The Leash about how this unique singing event came to be. 

What is Pub Choir – and how did it all begin?
Pub Choir is basically what it says on the box – choir in the pub! There’s no sheet music, no auditions, no pressure... no worries! Singing feels good, and does amazing things for our mental health, so the aim is to get more people to experience the joy of singing in a group. 

When did you realise you were  on to something pretty special?
It was special even from the first night when 70 people rocked up to a tiny bar, The Bearded Lady, in West End, Brisbane. The electric feeling that sparks across the crowd when the song actually comes together in three-part harmony after 90 minutes is amazing. 
Do you have a standout gig?
It was unforgettably awesome to sing the Powderfinger song, ‘My Happiness’, with John Collins from Powderfinger actually onstage accompanying the crowd on guitar. But I think weirdly my favourite gig was just recently in Brisbane, where 650 people sang ‘Tubthumping (I Get Knocked Down)’ by Chumbawamba.
On face value it would’ve been a really standard night, but the crowd was joyful beyond compare, and the night had the most positive feel of any Pub Choir night yet.
Brisbane is home to Pub Choir, so we’re thrilled you’re bringing  it to Darwin. Are you planning to take it around Australia? Around the world?!
We do have a few fun places booked around Australia, including Adelaide and Hobart. I’d love to make it to the west coast sometime soon as well... I’ve never been very far out west, but I hear it’s beautiful. I don’t know if I have any worldwide domination plans... I reckon I could be an old woman before I’ve explored even half of the places in Australia!
How do you choose the songs that you teach at Pub Choir – and can you reveal the song that you’ve chosen to perform in Darwin?
I agonise over song choices – I want them to be achievable, easy, and well known, with some uplifting element in the lyrics so that it feels good to yell it with hundreds of others. I only reveal Pub Choir songs one or two days before the event.
Something I’ve learned over the life of Pub Choir is that if I focus too much on the song, or announce it too early, people will often start to focus on the song as the most important part of the evening – but it most definitely is not!
Pub Choir is all about the joyful experience of making art with strangers over the course of 90 minutes, and the song is kind of secondary to that. There is no song in the world that everybody will like, so I’d rather people come for the new experience. But... I am looking at a really great Aussie tune for the Darwin show.
Anything else we need to know  to prepare ourselves for our first Pub Choir experience? 
Just come with a willingness to try new things and to listen to the instructions. The nights that always work best are those where the crowd is happy to learn something new, rather than just sing the song exactly the way they always have.
Fri 20 Jul | 7-9pm | Darwin Ski Club | $15
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