Push Over 2008: more rock than a mineshaft

There is not one music festival on Melbourne’s all-ages calendar that can boast a reputation for unconditionally supporting young and upcoming artists and audiences in a drug and alcohol free environment. For over 15 years, the annual Push Over festival has become the launching pad for many local, unsigned acts, not to mention the many volunteers in pursuit of gaining experience for a career in the music industry. The Push, Victoria’s non-profit state-wide youth entertainment organisation, is the gyroscope for Push Over’s prolific presence and Artistic Director Shane Wickens has been orchestral in Push Over’s success year on year.

“On a couple of different levels – there’s been a whole new group of performers coming through and in terms of discovering those new acts, helping them get a leg up in the industry, Push Over is one of those festivals where a lot of mid-range acts use it as a stepping stone to get to the bigger festivals,” Shane confirms. For someone who has an incremental position in the Push Over initiative, not to mention starting out as a volunteer and performer, Shane climbs the reasons why Push Over is so important. “Being able to work with those young acts and helping them get a leg up is really important for them and for me personally, as well. The other side of it is our volunteers and the young people that work with us – helping them with their short term and long term goals, helping them achieve and getting them through the door. It’s a positive step to develop a career in the music industry as well.”

One major factor that has built the festival into what is today is the commitment of local music fans and the bands themselves. Punters are as music-savvy as ever, proving to be a beneficial element of Push Over’s survival. “Absolutely. We do a survey with young people and they put in their top acts they want to see. In terms of their choices and being music savvy, yeah it’s a lineup that’s very –  “now’ because it’s really tomorrow’s lineup, isn’t it? Young people feel really special about voting for their favourite acts – a range of acts that are not necessarily genre specific. Acts likes Gyroscope and British India for example – the acts are really diverse; hardcore and emo through to rock. Everyone’s really savvy and with the acts coming through, with MySpace being so prevalent these days, steps up the music knowledge, especially in regional areas – [kids] are right on top of it.”

With the promise of securing a vast audience base for its bands, Push Over is standalone event that can allow interstate artists to build their presence with underage audiences. Despite Melbourne’s ban on all-age shows in licensed venues and the hurdle of promoting interstate shows at a city level, bands can still establish themselves in Victoria through Push Over. “With all interstate acts that are touring it’s hard to promote your all-ages show on the ground. So the fact they can come to Melbourne and play at a well-respected show and be well promoted, they have the ability to knock over all those people Victoria wide – especially those regional and rural coming into the city under one roof. It’s a good draw-card – being able to do one big all-ages show and perform in front of a large audience in one hit. In terms of Push Over we have FReeZA. In Victoria we’ve got 77 groups where young people are running shows in their communities around the state. So those regional centres come under the one roof – young people seeing a lot of acts at Push Over they’re dying to see or hadn’t seen yet, being exposed to for the first time and running all-ages shows all year round as well. It’s a really good platform for acts to pick up future shows as well.”

Push Over has taken on various formats over the years but still remains true to its music backbone. “Push Over appeals to the really savvy music lover – it’s really just getting back to putting on four stages and fantastic artists. It’s all about the music – one of those things that dictate where it goes in terms of creative output.” Naturally, to see artists evolve from first appearing on the Push Start stage to eventually become an acclaimed, established band provides Shane with a real sense of achievement. “Watching those bands [ like The Vasco Era ] grow to bigger and better things – it’s great to see bands come back and headline or perform and reach bigger things in their career. We occasionally have those acts that come through the band comp fest and have used it as a launching pad to get to the next level. It’s great to see them come full circle and invite them back as the headline artist. That’s one thing that’s been proven in past years’ lineups.”

“The event is as good as what people make it and we’re very fortunate to see new the generation of people coming each year, or people coming to their show for the first time. For a lot of them, it’s their first rock and roll show – you can imagine the excitement of punters coming through the door who have never been to a live show. Catching that enthusiasm level is amazing.”

So, what do the bands think about Push Over and what can we expect from them?

“It’s so cool being able to play at a festival you’ve been attending for so many years. You think back to all the rad times you’ve had. I hope we can create some little memories for the guys and girls coming this year. It’s always cool to go out on the road and come back to your home crowd. They’ll always sing along and rock out. Melbourne shows are great at the moment and the kids are really digging the tunes that our scene is churning out. There’ll be smiles all round, good times, well maintained hair and sweat.”

– Stealing O’neal

“Push Over is a day devoted to great Australian music. This gives everyone a day to chill out and watch some awesome bands. The underage demographic is more often than not a birthplace for innovative acts to emerge and hone their sound. The younger crowd will grow up with a period of music, and then put there own spin on it to keep it fresh. They are the people who change music. Let’s face it, The Eagles latest stuff isn’t that crash hot.”

– Barrett from Closure in Moscow

“Well, we’d never heard of Push Over until this year as we are from Brisbane. All that we know is that it’s a great all ages festival. We love the energy that exists at all ages shows. As Melbourne is the biggest place for us to play, it means it will be the biggest all-ages crowd for us so far. That can only be a good thing!”

– Rob Maric from Dead Letter Circus

“Push Over is awesome in the fact that it’s a youth event, it’s drug free and it has a history of being a fun event. For the band, it means we get to play another killer show with our friends in Melbourne and hopefully to some new faces as more and more kids show up each year. Underage shows have always been a huge part of Carpathian; obviously they’re more fun than playing to a bunch of overage drunks and having any sort of positive influence on fans or kids that see Carpathian play is a good thing. Becoming a band or touring is now easier for younger people obviously because of events like FReeZA, Push Over, etc, websites like MySpace and just being able to meet other artists is easier. There has been a huge surge of up and coming bands in Australia and it’s amazing; hopefully we get to take some rad new bands on tour soon. It’ll be a fast and furious punk rock set – a bunch of kids singing along and moshing hard, songs from our upcoming record and huge ass circle pits.”

– Martin from Carpathian

“Push Over is a chance to bring the noise with Australia’s heavyweights and reach an audience that has probably never seen us before. Having played a grand total of ONE all-ages show in Melbourne, we’re not sure what to expect but we hope to make our shows more inclusive of this demographic and Push Over is a great place to start. The future is definitely bright for unsigned artists as online avenues like MySpace continue to make record labels practically redundant. There’ll be a whole lot of intensity and a chaotic party vibe. It’s also our first show with our brand new guitarist Josh and our first as a four-piece. There will be new songs and sonics. Be prepared!”

– Ross from Young & Restless

Be sure to catch British India, Capeside, Carpathian, CC Martini, Closure in Moscow, Cog, Custom Kings, Dead Letter Circus, Famous by Association, 50 Lions, The Galvatrons, The Getaway Plan, Gyroscope, Her Nightmare, In Fiction, Little Red, Mere Theory, Muph & Plutonic, Paris Wells, Shihad, Stealing O’Neal, The Vasco Era, Young & Restless and many more acts at Push Over 2008 at Abbotsford Convent, 1 St Helliers Road, Abbotsford on Monday March 10.

Tickets are $50+bf and are on sale from Ticketek 132 849, Missing Link 9670 8208, Fist2Face, Greville Records and Oztix. Tickets will also be available at the door for $60 unless sold out.

The venue will be easily reachable by public transport, with Abbotsford Convent closest to Victoria Park, just 5 stops from Flinders Street Station on the Epping and Hurstbridge lines. There will also be a shuttle bus running to and from Victoria Park train station every 15 minutes.