Okay, 2020 is done. Dusted. In the bin where it belongs.
That is not to say that 2021 will automatically be 2020’s reverse image, back to the ‘old normal’, the carefree and thriving local music scene it was up until March last year. But so far, so good – we can still get together, we can still fill a stage with musicians and a dance floor with punters – there are crowd capacity rules, check-in apps and all the rest – but we can still do it. The goal for 2021 is for that to continue, and improve.
It was touch-and-go there for a while. The Nightcliff Sea Breeze Festival was successful as a virtual event earlier in the year. By the time Darwin Festival came around, COVID-19 cases in most of Australia were getting under control but hard borders were still in place – that made the festival a different beast, but a beast no less that went ahead successfully with a local hue. Foldback Media NT, along with the Darwin International Film Festival, artists and other partner orgs put on the live music/outdoor movie frolic ‘The BBQ Sessions‘, a resounding success under all the circumstances. NT Government grants helped immeasurably.
That money, and the sweat of arts organisations, artists, techs and venues helped steer the local scene through some very choppy waters indeed. But together, we did it. Now we just have to keep it going and hopefully the ‘new normal’ for live music is something approaching the ‘old normal’, maybe something even better at the end of all this.
There has naturally been a thirst for live music and we know that there are a lot of bands out there making plans for 2021. If we have learned anything through the COVID-19 kerfuffle, it is that we must take nothing for granted.
But back to 2020 – the last day in fact, New Years Eve. Darwin rang it in well, because we could. With large events and national acts at The Waterfront, cover bands throughout the Mitchell Street watering holes and pubs and clubs further afield, there was plenty of entertainment for the evening. But for local live original music, the place to be was the Darwin Railway Club.
Four live bands and a DJ saw the Rails rock out into the wee hours, and the mix was as eclectic as you could imagine. Returned from an absence of a couple of years was singer-songwriter D Henry Fenton with band. Soulful and skilful in equal measure, this journeyman brought a Richard Clapton-esque vibe at the start as the COVID-restricted crowd started to build.
Newcomers Kathryn and the Overbytes knocked things up several notches with some very professional down-to-earth rock, the Suzi Quatro references not lost on the older crowd.
The Bloody Marys ran rampant yet again with their localised brand of Celtic punk that never fails to get people up and moving – resistance truly is futile with this lot.
But headliners Gored Matadors had the rough-diamond groove to see in midnight, and man those swamp riffs and pulsing bass just did it for everyone. Most bums were off their seats and on their feets when this mob cranked it. Also the bluest guitar in the world. Or was it green?? idk lol
Come midnight, the usual free-for-all ensued, with many of the evening’s artists all up on stage for a bit of Auld Lang Syne, as you do.
Well that’s a wrap. Thank you to everyone who supported Foldback Media NT throughout a difficult 2020 so we can still be here to support the NT local live music scene into the future. Hopefully in 2021 we can cast our net further afield and cover more of the regional areas that make up this great Territory, and all the untapped talent that lies thereat.
Here are some more snaps of NYE at the Rails – enjoy!