Gigging Canberra style

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Never underestimate the power of promotion. On Saturday night at The Front Café and Gallery, Lyneham, two of Australia’s up and coming acts, Shady Lane and the Deep Sea Arcade put on a fantastic show that would have been jam packed in Sydney or Melbourne.

But when I rocked up at about nine there were less than 30 people milling around – and a group of dudes decided they wouldn’t all pay, instead two went in for the cover charge and the others sat at an outdoor table sipping drinks and enjoying the show through the windows.

More kids came along as the night progressed, but there was more than a little standing room at the teenie, tiny venue when the show climaxed around 11pm.

The Deep Sea Arcade have received considerable airplay on the national youth broadcaster Triple J of late and were able to back up the hype with a solid indi pop performance in the same vein as fellow Sydneysiders Philadelphia Grand Jury, while keeping their stylized Beatles-surfer-sixties schtick alive.

Singer Nic McKenzie is a bit of a show-pony-come-dandy, but who cares, he can deliver tunes with consistency and personality.

Deep Sea Arcade – Lonely In Your Arms (Official Video) from Deep Sea Arcade on Vimeo.

Electronic pop four piece support Shady Lane had already killed it to a crowd of 25 with their smooth transitions and Jordy Lane’s beautiful voice, which I enjoyed from the comfort of an outdoor couch two metres away.

While they weren’t breaking musical frontiers, both the Deep Sea Arcade and Shady Lane are respectable performers and yet their show received very little promotion in the city aside from a mention in the “BMA” gig guide – the only reason I even knew they were playing was the handy delivery of a well-timed press release in the “CityNews” inbox.

Three days previously I asked the staff at The Front about the upcoming gig and was greeted with some paper shuffling to confirm that ummm, yeah, man, that’s who’s playing Saturday. Yep. There were no posters or chalk boards advertising the bands anywhere at the venue.

But that night, Wednesday February 17, The Front had been packed to the rafters with a showcase of three Canberra bands, Voss, Kasha and the Hoodlum Shouts.

These bands are all friends and possessed the power of shameless self promotion on a hyper-local we-went-to-ANU-together personal level with their peeps – the audience knew them and loved them.

I’ve been here only a couple of months, but I’ve heard enough whinging about the live music scene in Canberra to get the idea that the skinny-jeaned. vintaged-dressed, red-lipstick mouthed, Coopers Pale-swigging hipsters of our nation’s capital would like to see a few more bands visiting them.

But without advertising and support I fail to see how or why any band would return to Canberra.

I clearly cannot judge how much The Front would have raked in for the band in ticket or CD sales, but I can say this, while I did really like the up-close-and-personal vibe at this awesomely cool little venue, I can’t help but wonder if the bands came even close to breaking even for the costs of coming here.

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