falls festival

Open Letter to Music: We Exist. Signed, Tasmania

Dear Music,

We exist.

I know we may look small down here in Tasmania, but I promise, we are real.

In case you get lost (Source: Tas Gov)

In case you get lost. (Source: Tas Gov)

What’s more, there are people down here too! Over half a million people live on this small island, and they’re all really annoyed that we aren’t considered Australian enough to be part of any “National Tours.”

There are two main cities, and the whole island can be driven to in a few hours, so you’d only really need to play Hobart. There are heaps of venues too, ranging from a stadium for more big name gigs, (ahem Kanye) to a lot of pubs for the more intimate shows.

The main reason people visit Tasmania is the scenery – so why not make the most of it? You could hold a concert out among the trees, like MGMT.

Just a normal Saturday down here in Tasmania (Source: YouTube)

Just a normal Saturday down here in Tasmania (Source: YouTube)

But does anyone consider it? Almost never, and we’re sick of it. We are one of the oldest settlements in Australia, but our younger and more hip brother Melbourne, and second cousin Adelaide get all the love down here. Sure, we may have less people and a gap of water between us and convenience, but is it really that bad? Is it that much harder to take that extra flight? Look. If you can fly from Perth to Sydney, you can fly from Melbourne to Hobart. Simple as that. Hell, if you want to get creative, you could schedule your Australian tour around Christmas and send all your band gear across in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. It’s a flawless plan!

While it’s true that we have a leg of Falls Festival in Marion Bay, and of course, our shining star, the phenomenal MONA FOMA festival for the more avant-garde, tour stops are rare, and a handful of major events aren’t enough to sustain us. Melbourne is only an hour’s flight away. Think of what that says to us, those deserted among the barren landscape that is the Hobart music scene. Are we not good enough? Do people think we’re not a part of Australia?

Tourism is one of the most important industries that Tassie has going for it, and that’s in no small part to the fantastic work done by David Walsh and Brian Richie in organising MONA FOMA, an event that has been so instrumental in adding pulse to the culture and music scene of our little state. Events like these offer a unique experience that brings people from outside the state. But two or three festivals a year is not enough to sustain that pulse. Especially not for young people.

One of the largest issues facing Tasmania is one of demographics, with a lot of young people (like fresh out of college) looking for interstate universities to attend. It’s not that our education system is sub-par, it’s that there’s sweet fuck all to do here. It’s a beautiful state, but without anything to do, it’s nothing more than an oil painting. I love Tassie to bits (except the cold), but it’s hard to escape that feeling of entrapment. Many students believe the only way they can do something with their lives is to get the hell out – and that’s usually to Melbourne, so often described as “Hobart but better,” or conversely, Hobart explained as “Melbourne without the life.” This is really really sad.

Whenever there is a band that comes down to Tassie as part of a headline tour, I’m over the moon. Big name bands like The Drones and Low are amongst those who have toured here this year, and it makes me respect them so much more. The Drones played a sellout gig in a packed room at a filthy pub, while Low delighted the audience at MONA. Both Remi and Tkay Maidza are stopping by this year too. What does this prove? That there is an audience here, an audience hungry for live music, culture and nightlife. Yet why are these visitors so few and far between? So what if we’re separated by a tiny bit of water? So what if we’re an island?

Tasmania is an amazing place, but for some reason, nobody seems to want to visit. Touring artists almost never come here, and we’re sick of it. We demand recognition.


Concerned citizen.

Image: The AU Review