This Friday and Saturday Volumes, one of Sydney's most diverse and exciting music festivals, takes over multiple venues around Oxford Street. After killing it with their debut last year, the event — touted (by us) as a mini South by Southwest-style festival — will this year span two days, showcasing some of Australia's premier artists, bands, DJs and, importantly, live music venues.
As well as being a feat in event organisation, there's a lot to get your ears around — so Concrete Playground spoke to Volumes organiser James Spink to get the low down on what to expect from the festival, and how we should tackle the two-day event.
THE LINEUP IS FULL OF UP-AND-COMERS
2016 will be Volumes' sophomore year, after launching in 2015 with a lineup that included the likes of Methyl Ethel, You Beauty, Shining Bird and Jack Ladder & the Dreamlanders. It's no coincidence that these bands have gone on to do great things in the last 12 months – Volumes prides itself in being able to hunt down some of Australia's next up-and-comers.
"Volumes is meticulously curated — many hours are spent enjoying listening to music and going to shows and pondering what bands we'd love to see play together," says Spink. "This is easily the most enjoyable part of the event. The lineup is not defined by genre or style, but instead we aim to create a program that moves and flows in a particular way and creates a certain mood. Most acts are booked with a specific idea for a slot or stage to create a certain vibe and direction for that space and time."
IT'S UNLIKE ANY OTHER FESTIVAL IN SYDNEY
Following the same multi-venue format as last year, Volumes team will again jam some of Sydney's most exciting emerging artists into the city's premier music venues — but this time it will run over two days instead of just one. Oxford Art Factory, Brighton Up Bar and The Cliff Dive will once again participate, joined this year by The Burdekin.
"With Volumes we wanted to create an experience-based concept that challenged an audience's expectation or perception of a live music event," says Spink. "Basically we're just working to create that 'wooaahh!' experience for the audience. Something that they'll remember and talk about until next year."
"We've added a ton of new musical elements and visual experiences that I can't divulge too much of, or it may adversely effect that aforementioned 'wooaahh!' reaction at the event." Spink does however confirm that there'll be collaborations between artists: artistically, musically and merch-wise. Rollas Jeans have collaborated with some of the acts on the 2016 Volumes bill to create a range of extremely limited edition pieces.
IT'S BEEN PROGRAMMED TO FIT WITH THE LOCKOUTS
Volumes has never known a lockout-free Sydney, so, when planning the festival, Spink has taken into account how the lockout laws will effect the punter's experience. "We have created certain parts of the event with the lockouts in the back of the mind — like having dual headline slots across the event, with an earlier headliner around 7pm and then shifting the direction towards another headline act later in the evening."
But despite the effect the lockouts have had on Sydney's live music industry, Spink is optimistic about the future for the Sydney arts and culture scene. "The Volumes 2016 lineup is testament to so many amazing new artists coming out of Sydney in the last two years," he says. "You only need to look at venues like Brighton Up Bar, Oxford Art Factory and Oxford Circus — all hosting amazing sold out shows each week — to know that there is still a great music scene in Sydney. I feel like the current positive momentum is leading towards some changes soon. Fingers crossed with the review of the laws due very soon we may just see some good things in the not too distant future."
SO WHO SHOULD WE MAKE A BEELINE TO SEE?
With such a diverse lineup, we wanted to get the hot tip on who we should lock into our Volumes 2016 timetable. Spink gave us a (kind of huge) list that consisted of California Girls, Christopher Port, Habits, Mall Grab, Nicholas Allbrook, Mossy, Orb, SilentJay & Jace XL, Xanga, Koi Child, 30/70 and Donny Benet. That's not the complete list of gigs, but we're going to trust a guy who makes his living discovering the best new bands in Sydney.
Volumes 2016 takes place on Friday, August 26 and Saturday, August 27 at various venues in Darlinghurst. For more info and to buy tickets, go to volumes2016.com.