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Six Gigs to Catch During Sydney Solstice If You Can't Get Enough of Live Tunes

After so many months without live music, you've got some catching up to do — here's your chance.
By Joe Rivers
June 03, 2021
By Joe Rivers
June 03, 2021


in partnership with

After so many months without live music, you've got some catching up to do — here's your chance.

Yes, it's winter and, yes, it's cold, but Sydney has so much to offer that the cooler weather is not an excuse to hibernate. To coax you off the couch, the harbour city's new seasonal program, Sydney Solstice, is bringing a stacked lineup of food- and art-filled events across the CBD, Darling Harbour, Oxford Street, Newtown and beyond. And, if you love listening to music IRL, you'll be pleased to know that Sydney Solstice's music program is massive, too.

In partnership with NSW Government via Destination NSW, we've cherry-picked some of the finest gigs from our world-class music industry that you won't want to miss — from dazzling audio-visual experiences to gay anthem-fuelled raves. So, bust out your dancing shoes (and your warmest coat), it's time to hit the pavement.

  • 6
    Mardi Gras Pride Weekender

    Thanks to you-know-what, The Metro Theatre hasn’t hosted any live music events since early 2020. You could say a grand reopening is well overdue — and, thankfully, one is finally here. For Sydney Solstice, The Metro is throwing a heap of tune-filled nights, including a seven-day weekend event and an epic celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community. The latter, dubbed Mardi Gras Pride Weekender, is a series of performances championing queer-identifying artists. At Express Yourself — Queer Discovery (June 18), you can see the likes of singer-songwriter Alex the Astronaut, rapper BVT and emerging electro star Nik Navy, as well as Faustina Agolley who’ll be hosting the shindig. Then, on Saturday, June 19, cut some serious shapes at Spin-Off — a competition in search of up-and-coming LGBTQIA+ DJs — or catch fabulous drag queens at My Drag Story.

    Top image: Destination NSW

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  • 5

    Located in Surry Hills, the heritage-listed Hotel Harry is heating things up this winter with nearly two weeks of free music events. Running from June 9–20, Harry’s Altar Danceteria will serve up nightly dance parties — think classic rave vibes — till 3am. You can expect the freshest hip hop and R&B jams courtesy of Scratches Records or go back to the heady days of UK Garage with Extra Spicy and Champain Lyf. On Saturday, June 12, DJs from the Here to Hell label will take over, promising support from a ‘human drum machine’, too. So, it’s safe to say these 12 nights at Harry’s are sure to be anything but boring.

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  • 4

    As the name suggests, this event held over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend is set to showcase the best in country music across Sydney’s inner west. The big-ticket event is a one-day festival at Sydney Park Amphitheatre, where you can see the likes of Kasey Chambers, Caitlin Harnett & The Pony Boys, Tex Perkins and All Our Exes Live in Texas. On top of the main event, there’ll also be pop-up events dotted along King Street and Enmore Road, including free shows at venues such as The Duke, Cottonmouth Records and The Bank’s upstairs gig venue, Waywards. So, put on your boots and scoot to the inner west stat.

    Image: Caitlin Harnett & The Pony Boys

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  • 3

    Billed as an experience that’ll ‘challenge traditional notions of the stage’, Total Reflection is sure to be a Solstice favourite. It’s taking over Opera Bar for six nights across June, decking out the harbourside bar with a neon light installation, created by Sam Whiteside and Babekühl, and music performance. The live audio component, courtesy of Jono Ma and Jonti, will be mixed in four-point surround sound, meaning you have a different experience depending on where you are in relation to the artists. Total Reflection also looks at implications on the future of the arts, and seeks to reimagine cultural spaces in a post-COVID world to make sure Sydney doesn’t lose its much-loved cultural edge.

    Image: Opera Bar

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  • 2
    ivy Weekender

    Over the long weekend, CBD institution The Ivy will come alive with seven parties across four days. If you want to throw it back to mid-2000s, then be sure to head to the Poof Doof x Sneaky Sound System shindig on Saturday, June 12. Poof Doof, the legendary Melbourne-based LGBTQIA+ party, is bringing its much-loved queens to the dance floor — and, no, we’re not talking about Lizzy. You’ll also catch Aussie electro-house legends Sneaky Sound System, who are sure to play many bangers that’ll get you grooving. There’ll also be guest appearances from Coco Jumbo and JoJo Zaho, both of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under fame. But, perhaps best of all, you can get in on all this action for free if you arrive before 10pm.

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  • 1

    Sydney Solstice’s closing event, Third I Fest is a cornucopia of food, pop-up art galleries, masterclasses and cultural experiences. On top of all that is an all-day music festival, with a huge lineup of international, Indigenous and inner west artists — representing the event’s three ‘i’s — on the bill. What’s more, as well as providing a whistlestop world tour without the plane ticket, the event supports a good cause. The three-day extravaganza is in partnership with not-for-profit PlateitForward. You’ll be able to buy a ‘passport’ that’ll let you eat at restaurants, such as Colombo Social, with all money raised going to employment and career opportunities for asylum seekers and Indigenous Australians doing it tough.

    Image: Bec Taylor

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Keen to check out the full program? Head to the Sydney Solstice website.

Top image: The Ivy, Merivale

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