News / Music

Annual music festival caters to all tastes 

With 60 shows across eight days, the Brunswick Music Festival returns in March as big as ever

Camp Cope performing at Estonian House during the 2023 Brunswick Music Festival. Photo: Jacinta Keefe Photography/Brunswick Music Festival via Facebook

Poppy Searle

THE iconic Yothu Yindi heads a diverse line-up for the highly-anticipated return of the Brunswick Music Festival next month. 

The legendary Arnhem Land band, renowned for their innovative fusion of traditional Yolngu beats and language with contemporary genres such as electronica, pop, and rock, will hit the stage of Estonian House on March 5, one of more than 60 shows programmed for this year’s festival. 

The festival made a successful comeback in 2022 following the challenges posed by the COVID pandemic and remains committed to providing an inclusive platform for artists and attendees alike, solidifying its status as one of the most influential annual gatherings on the Australian music scene. 

It will begin on March 3 with the Sydney Road Street Party, where there will be several free outdoor stages, and continue until March 11. 

The festival’s commitment to the local community is underscored by the inclusion of over 60 shows in more than 30 venues, providing a range of options for diverse audiences. From A1 Bakery to the Brunswick Bowling Club, the festival extends into all corners of Brunswick. This collaborative approach with the community contributes to a sense of unity and shared exploration of artistic endeavours. 

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The core of any music festival is its lineup, and the BMF programming team has curated a diverse spectrum of performers.  

“Various programming concepts have been under consideration for an extended period,” said BMF music and performance programmer Juliette Lalli, who took over the role this year. “However, I’ve chosen specific artists, community groups, and events based on their alignment with the festival’s core ethos.” 

The BMF lineup spans a range of musical genres, reflecting the varied cultures within the Brunswick community. The festival maintains its commitment to diversity by carefully balancing emerging and established artists, providing a platform for the local music community to flourish. 

​​Estonian House and Howler will host key events of the Festival. Estonian House, a beautiful old theatre in West Brunswick, has been a cultural home since the 1970s, making it the perfect setting for artists visiting the area and performing for the first time, Lalli said. 

As well as Yothu Yindi, Estonian House will host critical darlings Wednesday from the US on March 6 and the ‘Beatles of Zambia’ WITCH (We Intend To Cause Havoc) on March 7. 

Howler, with its intimate yet energetic atmosphere, hosts MJ Lenderman & The Wind’s friendly, fuzzed-out alt-country vignettes on March 5. 

Highlights of this year’s festival include Yothu Yindi (top), WITCH from Zambia (above left, photo by Pooneh Ghana), and Wednesday (photo by Brandon McClain).

The BMF distinguishes itself from many other music festivals by integrating family-friendly events, such as Saudara Sound System, which combines a Balinese feast with dance, theatre, costume, and visual art at Estonian House on March 8. 

“The intention of this program is to allow our audiences to experience music in all of its forms, and for as many of our audience as possible to see themselves represented on our stages,” Lalli said. 

The festival will also travel north to the Coburg Town Hall for a performance by the Australian Art Orchestra.  

This inventive concert showcases the sonic textures of the historic Coburg Town Hall organ, featuring commissioned works by AAO artistic director Aaron Choulai and associate artist Sofia Carbonara. Attendees can anticipate an engaging exploration of sound and space, amalgamating contemporary forms of jazz, other improvised music, and historic instruments. 

Popular local venues like the the Moldy Fig, JazzLab, Tempo Rubato, Brunswick Ballroom, The Bergy Seltzer and The Retreat will get a workout, as will the Brunswick Bowls Club which will host Brunswick Music Festival Night Bowls with a four-band line-up amid lawn bowling and country-style hospitality such as lamingtons and lemon slices. On the penultimate day of the festival, Sunday, March 10, 15 venues will come alive for the Bulleke-bek Journey.

Collaboration with local businesses and venues is a cornerstone of the BMF’s success. Lalli, drawing on her years of experience as a venue booker in Brunswick, emphasises the importance of trust and communication in these partnerships. 

With the majority of shows being inexpensive or free, the Brunswick Music Festival encourages attendees to make the most of this musical extravaganza. 

Find out the full program on the official Brunswick Music Festival website.

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