Arts / Music

BMF makes a comeback after disappointment of 2020

35-plus shows at 14 venues more than makes up for the cancellation of last year’s festival

Staff reporter
Tuesday, February 27, 2021


IN what is without doubt the best news the local music scene has had for 12 months, the Brunswick Music Festival will take the stage from next Friday, March 5.

The ten-day festival — which also incorporates Venues 3056 — will feature more than 35 shows at 14 venues, with a focus on home grown artists this year.

Sadly, last year’s event was cancelled mid-event when public health restrictions caused by COVID-19 meant all venues had to close. There was another scare just a few weeks ago when Victoria’s snap five-day lockdown again forced all venues to temporarily close, but with virtually no new daily cases anywhere in the state since the lockdown ended on February 17, it is now full steam ahead.

International travel restrictions mean the 2021 BMF will showcase local talent, but that can only be a good thing with one of the strongest line-ups in living memory.

The BMF has been a mainstay of Melbourne’s live music calendar since 1994, and usually kicks off with the Sydney Road Street Party, but of course that is not going ahead this year because of the pandemic.

But that hasn’t stopped festival director Emily Ulman from assembling a brilliant and diverse line-up and the best news of all is that all tickets are $10 and under.

It all starts on Friday night with a sold-out opening night party at the event’s newest venue, Gilpin Park in Albert Street, featuring sets from Sui Zhen, Zjoso, DJ JNETT and Sleep D.

Gilpin Park will also host an afternoon of Milk! Records artists on Saturday, March 6, and Our Golden Friend artists on Sunday, headlined by one of the hottest acts in Melbourne, RVG.

What is quite possibly the festival highlight on the Tuesday night at Gilpin Park, Cash Savage and the Last Drinks, supported by Hexdebt and Muma Ganoush, is already sold out. ARIA nominee Mo’Ju will bring her genre defying music to Gilpin Park on March 10.

The 14 venues hosting shows this year include, Bar Oussou, the newly opened Brunswick Ballroom (formerly The Spotted Mallard), Cross Street Music Hall, Noisy Ritual, Ollie’s Pizza Parlour, Rubix Warehouse, Small Time, Tempo Rubato, The B. East, The Charles Weston Hotel, The Edinburgh Castle Hotel, The Moldy Fig and The Retreat Hotel.

The Brunswick Ballroom actually has its official opening on Thursday, March 4, with a show featuring Eddie Perfect and Margot Tanjutco (Brunswick Voice will be bringing you a review of the new venue in coming weeks). The much-anticipated album launch by ‘Rock and Rock’ trio Bitch Diesel at Brunswick Ballroom is also already sold out.

If jazz is more your thing, The Jazzlab in Leslie Street is hosting three shows with Audrey Powne, Jake Mason Trio and Meredith A.C.T.

But it’s not all live music. Local icon Adalita, former frontwoman of Magic Dirt and an acclaimed solo artist, and folktronica singer-songwriter Gordi will be holding free in conversations at Small Time in Albert Street, and the team from Milk! records, run by Jen Cloher and Courtney Barnett, will be livestreaming free music industry seminars from the same venue.

It all finishes with a late afternoon closing party at Gilpin Park on March 14 featuring Alice Skye, Barkaa and others.