The State of Popular Live Music on the Central Coast

When one of our favourite artists announces an Aussie tour, have we ever really expected to see ‘Central Coast’ on the list of stopovers? 9 times out of 10 I’d say “No, no we haven’t.”

Don’t get me wrong, homegrown musos are great, and we love supporting the locals, but as far as the hosting of popular/international acts has gone – we’ve really copped the short end of the stick. Or at least, had…

In 2012, the arguably biggest dance act in the world, Calvin Harris, decide to venture to the coast to headline a day party at The Beachcomber Hotel in Toukley, and it was a game changer.

Since then we’ve had a fairly good run, playing host to the likes of Peking Duk, Zeds Dead, PNAU, What So Not, Pendulum, Feed Me…you get the point. It got me thinking, and I reckon scoring solid live acts comes down to the nailing of three key factors – venue, culture, and cost:

THE VENUES:

From an international artist’s perspective, you can fly direct to Sydney, and find venues with capacities anywhere from a few hundred to tens of thousands without even leaving the city, which makes sense of the abundance of Sydney shows, and lack thereof on the Central Coast.In our defence though, the beaches, vibe and people are most definitely better here. On top of this, a bunch of coastie nightspots have stepped up their game in recent years, such as Gosford’s Sirens Nightclub launching a sister venue named The Loft, and the well-known Woodport Inn of Erina remoulding into Proud Mary’s. Altogether, this has effectively deemed the coast a legitimate stopover option for regional tours.

THE CULTURE:

If a widely popular act headlines a night at (for example) The Beery in Terrigal, and it’s a sell out crowd, consider the impact: The venue will be inclined to put on more big artists, the promoter will want to send more acts our way, and the musicians themselves will be telling all their famous buddies that the coast is the place to be. However, if ticket sales underwhelm and the event flops, it’s likely that the opposite effect will occur.I say; if you see a relatively large artist lined up to play at one of your locals, do your best to buy a ticket and get along, regardless of the act, because maybe, just maybe, the next time it happens it’ll be one of your favourites on the bill.

THE COST:

Considering that huge acts aren’t booked week in week out, the average door fee for coastie night owls isn’t overly high. This is a blessing and a curse, as while it’s sure to be a money saver on the weekly, it becomes a shock to the system when a larger-scale act results in jacked-up ticket prices.Considering a lot of the time seeing an artist play on the coast saves a trip to Sydney or Newcastle for essentially the same show, it’s undeniably worth copping this occasional price hike on the chin.

This is all only scratches the surface of the topic, as there are several great venues (The Rhythm hut, I’m looking at you) and other factors that I’ve failed to mention, such as artist quality, types of tours and preferred styles. But all in all, the state of popular live music on the Central Coast’s is visibly healthy, and if the fans and punters coast-wide continue to dig deep, it’s really only up from here for the scene.

(Article originally written for The Announcer, Winter 2017 edition).

Written by Guy Steinbeck, edited by Andrea Rivero.

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