Am I in Sale, or Footscray!?
That was the question thrown at me during a pre-apocalypse Saturday night, back in February.
Wedged between devastating bushfires and a global pandemic, we launched our first ‘Two Last Names’ single into the world, but more importantly into Sale.
To be honest, I’m not even a big fan of wanky Melbourne parties. But, on this night, I must admit I felt miles away from a country town that is more accustomed to watching acoustic covers while taxidermied deer eye off punters in the crowd.
Our stage was perched on a skateboard half-pipe in a furniture workshop.
There were milk crates and bohemian pillows circled around a fire in the car yard out back. Look, it was cool, okay? Vibes were up!
"Am I in Sale, or Footscray!?"
You’d think some young hipster would be responsible for throwing such a warehouse gig. Instead, let me introduce you to our host behind the makeshift bar selling $5 tinnies, Father Rich Lanham. Rich is an Anglican priest, and the owner of The Factory Workshop.
My favourite part of the night was when Rich grabbed the mic and acknowledged our Gunaikurnai elders past, present and emerging, before we played our loud punk music full bore.
“Love each other. Care about each other. Build community again. Hug each other. Enjoy the night.”
I’ve never been to church, but I started to wonder if there are parallels between a church service and live music. What’s the difference between Father Rich speaking on stage or from a pulpit?
Rich might seem an unlikely priest, but he doesn’t see it that way.
“I can’t wait to host more of these, it’s exactly where I should be.
“I have a desire to create spaces where people feel empowered to explore their creativity, self-expression and their untapped potential.”
When Rich isn’t hosting gigs, he’ll probably be working on your car for mate’s rates, helping his wife Jules cook free meals at Café 123, connecting young ones with work experience opportunities or donating a space for LGBTQIA+ youth to hangout without judgement.
I don’t know if it’s certain town legends, like Rich or Jules, that help make things happen in Sale, or if there’s something in the air, but recently I’ve noticed more arty types popping their heads up.
Let’s talk original music for a bit. Surely you’ve heard of The Spaghetti Stains by now, right!? Three badass local gals who will put their hand up to play a show in Sale at the drop of a hat, despite a relentless schedule of Melbourne-based gigs.
It’s not just the Spaghetti Stains who think there’s more to life than Melbourne shows.
Lester Goold, from the band The Tropicals, told me at an impromptu single launch afterparty (sorry Mrs and Mr Goold) that he’s keen to throw as many Gippsland gigs and festivals as possible.
“Originally being from Sale, I struggled to find a similar live music community here compared to Melbourne.”
“I do however believe there is an appetite. So I guess from this I was inspired to help cultivate a community culture of music and art in Gippsland that everyone can access and be a part of.”
Lester will proudly tell you about his passion project Inward Goods, a camping festival in Briagolong. The organisers were gutted when they announced the festival would be postponed until October because of social distancing, but they are gearing up for a big three days of music when normality returns.
What comes first — the scene or the venues?
Dave Willington and Amie Boulton, the fuel behind the Bond Street Event Centre, encourage a stack of local artists to perform in their intimate Sale venue. Whether your thing is rapping, drag or reading tarot cards, you won’t find a more welcoming crowd than the Bond Street faithful.
"I was inspired to help cultivate a community culture of music and art in Gippsland that everyone can access and be a part of."
I can’t talk venues without mentioning Live at the Bundy — a refurbished historic town hall ten minutes out of town that hosts huge professional concerts with Gippsland musicians opening the night.
I mean, it’s BYO, need I say more?
Let’s do some maths here. Sale has the coolest priest ever, we have a couple of rad music venues, there are clearly artists in town who want to express themselves, and locals who want to consume it. So, does that add up to us having a local music and arts scene in Sale?
If you had asked me in February, I would have said that we were well on our way.
For me, that’s been the hardest thing about this pandemic, watching that momentum stall.
Will people still be keen post-pandemic? No idea. But we’ll keep putting on gigs and hoping people turn up. At least I know Father Rich will be there ready for the service to begin.
Two Last Names are a three-piece punky band from Sale/Bairnsdale. We yell a lot. We overshare a lot. We laugh a lot. We have a new song out right now called ‘Can’t Get Comfy’ that you should listen to on Spotify while you’re reading the rest of Gippslandia. It’s not the punk you’re imagining.