Sunshine and Sweet Tunes

Summer days got you primed for festival season? Here are five unmissable Melbourne music events to add to your list. By Jo Stewart

1 Melbourne’s Musical Feast

A creative collaboration between the City of Melbourne and an array of promotors, venues and musicians, Melbourne Music Week (16–24 November) is a nine-day festival with a difference. Held at various venues across the city, the event is anchored by a festival hub, which this year will be located at ACMI in Federation Square. With artists like REMI and Nadia Rose performing, chair of the Arts, Culture and Heritage portfolio, Councillor Rohan Leppert, believes the festival’s unique use of space makes it a standout. “MMW has helped reinforce our city’s well-deserved reputation as a music capital and this has been partly achieved by redefining the creative use of public space,” says Councillor Leppert, who is especially excited about Aussie rockers You Am I performing with Gareth Liddiard and cult punk outfit Clowns. “This is You Am I like they’ve never been seen before, playing on the Melbourne Town Hall historic Grand Organ, a formidable instrument that uses 90,000 cubic feet of air a minute, producing anything from a delicate whisper to deafening thunder.”

2 French Fascination

If a Gallic garden party sounds like your thing, So Frenchy So Chic is back at Werribee Park on 13 January with an all-female line-up of French pop stars, including Camille and Clea Vincent. Founder Jean-François Ponthieux had no troubles choosing this year’s performers. “I go to France every year to see gigs and make my selection for the festival,” he says. “This year I couldn't help but notice the new wave of talent is being driven by girls. And the four amazing women coming to Australia in January highlight the diversity of pop music in France right now.” Nail the experience by pre-ordering a hamper filled with cheese, baguettes and charcuterie. Tres bien!

3 Brunswick Beats

The family-friendly Sounds of Africa Festival celebrates the strength of African culture, cuisine and music that thrives in Melbourne. Head to Brunswick East’s CERES Park on 15 December to hear performances from Ausecuma Beats and others who traverse the music scenes of Congo, Zimbabwe and beyond. There’ll also be drumming workshops, dance classes and food stalls serving up the flavours of Senegal, Ethiopia and Cameroon.

4 Loving Laneway

The first St Jerome’s Laneway Festival was held back in 2005. Despite having no marketing budget, tickets went like hotcakes with more than a thousand punters squeezing into Melbourne’s Caledonian Lane. These days the festival is a giant on the scene, and will tour seven cities at the beginning of 2019. Indigenous hip-hop performer Baker Boy, Melbourne rockers Camp Cope and American rapper Smino contribute to a killer line-up of local and global artists you can catch at Footscray Park on 9 February.

5 Hooked on Classics

This crowd-pleasing series of free concerts from Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (8, 16 and 20 February) offers the perfect excuse to relax on a picnic rug while blissing out on symphonic sounds. From a highlights reel of Gershwin’s best compositions to a night of romantic overtures from master composers, 2019 is the 90th year of MSO’s free performances. See them at Sidney Myer Music Bowl.