New Winter Festival Now or Never Is Bringing a Stacked Music Lineup to the Royal Exhibition Building

The historic Royal Exhibition Building will play host to a cutting-edge club night — plus Semi Permanent is dropping in for a one-day iteration dubbed Never Permanent.
Ellen Seah
Published on May 31, 2023

Melbourne is a bit partial to a good citywide festival, as you might have noticed from the likes of White Night, RISING and Melbourne Fringe. The latest festival to join the party is Now or Never, a huge 17-day event that's set to make its debut this winter, serving up a bumper celebration of creativity, innovation and big ideas. Originally announced in November last year, Now or Never has just revealed the first of its hefty lineups, descending on Melbourne's historic Royal Exhibition Building.

Underneath its spectacular cathedral ceilings, the World Heritage listed site will play host to some of the festival's biggest events. Excitingly, Now or Never's festival lineup will mark the first large-scale live music performances in the iconic building in over 20 years.

Image: Ayebatonye

"For the first time in more than two decades, Now or Never will bring large-scale live music back to the spectacular Royal Exhibition Building — with an unmissable line-up that celebrates our incredible homegrown talent, alongside ground-breaking work from international artists," Lord Mayor Sally Capp says.

Topping the bill: a cutting-edge club night co-hosted by Untitled Group, the same crew behind Beyond the Valley, Pitch Music & Arts and Ability Fest. This high-energy twilight party will be headlined by German house and techno producer Âme, along with renowned DJ, producer and creative director of Irregular Fit, Ayebatonye. Joining them: Stockholm's tech and house producer Axel Boman, Melbourne native CC:DISCO!!, and Brisbane mainstay and Yuggera woman, dameeeela.

Image: dameeeela

There is also an Australian-exclusive performance by legendary singer, songwriter and producer Kelela, who will be supported by R&B musician serpentwithfeet. Plus, a night of live electronic music in pitch-black darkness with English duo Autechre, joined by electronic music duo Actress and bass-heavy innovators Giant Swan. Finally, Orchestra Victoria is partnering up with avant-garde composer Steve Reich to deliver an intricate performance.

In more huge news, the southern hemisphere's biggest and longest-running festival of ideas, Semi Permanent, is dropping into Melbourne for a one-day iteration dubbed Never Permanent. Expect a collection of industry-leading thinkers and doers, across creativity, tech and design.

Image: Kelela

"Never Permanent brings together the best creatives and innovators from around the globe," Semi Permanent Founder Murray Bell says. "This lineup for Never Permanent is shaping up to be one of our best yet, and we're thrilled for this to be a part of Now or Never."

This is Now or Never's first lineup announcement, which run from Thursday, August 17–Saturday, September 2. Further details are expected to drop in late June, with Now or Never teasing a hefty program of free and ticketed events spanning a diverse array of experiences, art, talks, installations, music, culinary delights and more.

Expect a calendar of happenings running both by day and into the night, including everything from virtual reality experiences, live tunes and digital exhibitions through to multi-sensory feasts, thought-provoking talks and captivating visual art.

Now or Never will run from Thursday, August 17–Saturday, September 2 at venues across the city. Tickets for the first lineup announcement are on sale now. We'll share more details as they come.

Top image: Supplied.

Published on May 31, 2023 by Ellen Seah
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