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SLAM Rally

the crowd holding placards and musical instrument

So, yesterday I went to the SLAM (Save Live Australian Music) Rally, and it was FREAKIN AWESOME. It was so heartening to see the huge response people were willing to give to something the government probably thought they could get away with without much of a fuss. The energy was amazing, a friend said it made her ‘like people again’. In case you didn’t know, the rally was organised in response to Liquor licencing Victoria deciding that any venue which plays amplified live music is ‘high risk’, even if that’s a duo in their seventies playing Greek music in a restaurant at 2 in the afternoon. Being deemed a ‘high risk’, means a venue has to satisfy a number of extra conditions, including employing 2 security guards for ‘crowd control’.  This has meant that a number of venues have had to stop playing live music, or even close down if, like The Tote, a large amount of their revenue is due to live music. As one of the speakers at the rally said, the only high risk these venues pose is “a high risk of enlightenment”.

Estimates of the number of people attending the rally sit around 15,000, making it the largest gathering ever for in support of live music in Melbourne. It was amazing walking through the city streets with thousands of people, accompanied by the backing of AC/DC’s “It’s a Long Way to the Top”, all in it for the same thing. People held aloft their musical instruments when called upon by MC Brian Nankervis to do so. (That was when one of my friends spotted what she claimed were Amanda Palmer’s hands holding a Uke Box, I doubted her Amanda-spotting ability, but she was later proved right.) As we marched the MC led us in a call and response rendition of a modified “It’s a Long Way to the Top”:

“Ridin’ Down the Highway (Ridin’ down the highway)

Goin’ to a show (Goin’ to a show)

Music ain’t high risk (Music ain’t high risk)

These laws have got to go (These laws have got to go)”

When the march arrived at the steps of the Old Treasury, they were a number of speeches, which I was lucky enough to be right up the front for. They were amazing, emphasizing the value and importance of live music, as well as the ridiculousness of calling it a cause of violence.   Also on the steps, back behind the speakers, was the almost embarrassingly feeble sight of members of the Victorian Liberal party holding professionally designed and printed signs with the slogans “Liberals love live music” and “Brumby’s Liquor Laws killing live music” One speaker remarked “I’ve never seen them at a gig”, another “they probably payed more for those signs than most of us payed for our guitars”, another “Where were you when the Tote was closing?”, while we in the crowd provided plenty of booing.

Placards amongst the crowd, while not as slickly formatted as those of the politicians, did better on the content side. Among them:

“It’s a long way to the top…if you ain’t got nowhere to play”

“Don’t make bands sad”

“Hey Mr. Brumby, It’s a long way from the top if you bury rock n roll”

When the march arrived at the steps, a number of local singers, including Dan Sultan and Paris Wells, sung through ‘A Long Way to the Top”, finishing off the non-stop repetition of the chords which had been carried on from the beginning of the march. Amanda Palmer, former frontwoman of the Dresden Dolls, is currently in town and had turned up to support the rally. She seemed a bit awkward to me, as she was up on the steps with the other celebrities but obviously hadn’t been given any official role in proceedings. But she strummed away at her uke and after a number of glances at a strangely (more…)

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