Independent Music Awards nominees on their debut gigs

The winners of the Jagermeister Independent Music Awards will be announced at a ceremony in Melbourne’s West later tonight. 2011 has been bursting with well crafted and exciting local releases and this wealth of talent is reflected most significantly in the five artists nominated for Breakthrough Independent Artist Of The Year.

Adalita, Big Scary, Busby Marou, Emma Louise, Oscar & Martin and The Holidays all received a nod in the breakthrough category, and in the lead up the event we asked these artitsts to share with us the memories (terrifying or otherwise) of the first gig they played as either a solo artist or together as a band.


I think the first unofficial solo gig I played was at Idgaff in March 2009. I went under a different name because I just wanted to put myself into a gig situation without too much pressure. I really just needed to get up and play some songs and initiate myself into this new performance style. I felt really nervous, like a fish out of water.

And then my first official gig was at The Retreat Hotel in Brunswick a month later and that was even more nerve wracking. I was literally shaking with fear and trying to keep it together. I think a big part of the fear was the adrenaline of trying something completely new. I think sometimes the fear is supposed to take you to a new place. The good thing about this show was that it was part of a month long residency and I found that with each show some of those initial fear reactions started to die down. But I really think it was a process that I couldn’t bypass.


Jo and I had already been playing for a few years, but our first official gig as Big Scary was at a venue called Don’t Tell Tom on Sydney Rd in Brunswick, Melbourne. A lovely venue, I believe it was an old post office, a restaurant and bar mainly but they had bands on the stage in the front room from time to time. I remember meeting the sound guy and him ripping a horrible fart and having to stand there awkwardly and chat instrument inputs as if I didn’t notice anything.

We were the support for local Franco-Australian chanteur Tim Chesley, and we had Jo’s parents, a few of their family friends (one of whom was to become our manager!) and my girlfriend (now ex-girlfriend, who begrudgingly showed up) in the audience. Some of our audience members had the added benefit of being able to enjoy their schnitzels and garden salads while watching us play.

We had previously only really performed schnitzel-friendly folk ballads, so we were nervous about introducing some new material that involved an electric guitar (gasp!) and Jo playing drums somewhat more vigorously. They were however greeted with applause, mainly from the corner where Jo’s parents were sitting. The evening was considered a major success and everybody got home to bed at a reasonable hour to boot.


The first gig we played together was at Candy’s Apartment in Sydney. It’s a venue that’s played host to The Rolling Stones and Wolfmother among many others. I was fortunate enough to know the promoter through a mutual friend, and somehow hooked us up a gig, so as we counted down the days we frantically wrote more songs to fill our whole set.

I don’t remember ever feeling so much anticipation or apprehension for one single event in my life, and even though since then we’ve been fortunate enough to play some pretty special shows, none of them have matched the emotional roller-coaster we all experienced leading up to that gig!

Like many new bands, we packed out the whole venue with friends and family, and as such impressed the promoter and venue who immediately asked us back (despite all our friends leaving as soon as we’d finished!).

I remember we didn’t have time for a sound check or a pre-gig psych up, but we played with such an incredible rush of adrenaline that it wouldn’t have mattered. The promoter came on stage after our show and made us play one more song, however we had already played our whole back catalogue so just re-played the track that seemed to go down the best! I believe Candy’s Apartment has become a trance club of late, another

great venue lost in Sydney.

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