Meet Patrick Donovan
Melbourne hosts an average of 3,000 gigs a week, which means that Patrick Donovan, CEO of Music Victoria, has a busy job. A former front man and chief music writer at The Age, Patrick tells us about the local scene and why he thinks music is inextricably linked to Melbourne’s culture.
Why do you think Melbourne has a reputation as a great city for live music?
It is a combination of supportive community radio and media and venue owners who set up the framework for the state’s passionate and talented musicians to receive exposure and perform regularly.
This city’s live music scene spreads from end to end – from a tiny courtyard of a record store in sunny St Kilda to the dark backroom of Fitzroy’s Workers Club. What are some of your favourite precincts for music?
It’s hard to go past the dynamic Fitzroy-Collingwood music hub. On any night of the week you can catch any number of diverse styles of music at dozens of venues that are within walking distance. I love to do an old fashion ‘’punt’’ and pop into a few venues in one night and check out some new bands.
We’re sure it’s hard to narrow down, but what are some of the best gigs you’ve seen in Melbourne in the past 2–3 years?
While I have my favourite big international acts and festival moments, such as Grinderman, Grace Jones, Faust and AC/DC, some of the most memorable shows I’ve seen recently have been local bands in small intimate clubs, such as Eddy Current Suppression Ring at The Tote, The Drones at The Corner Hotel and Spencer P. Jones and The New York Dolls at Cherry Bar. It’s one of Melbourne’s charms that you can pay $10 to stand a metre away from world class musicians.
Aside from that particular charm, how do you think this city influences the musicians who live and perform here?
Melbourne has always been the live and independent music capital. Many musicians have been influenced by the first shows they saw in their impressionable years, and the strong history of quality acts and songs. This is the reason so many talented musicians from interstate and across the Tasman move here – regular work and opportunities for exciting collaborations.
And finally, what are your predictions for live music in Melbourne moving forward?
I love looking through the gig guide each week and noticing dozens of new bands that I have never heard of. It just seems to be in Melburnians’ DNA to start a band, just as it is to kick a footy or watch the Melbourne Cup. So there’s never a shortage of dynamic original bands to check out. And similarly, any time a venue closes, another half a dozen seem to sprout up… to satisfy Melburnian's demand for exciting live music.