Bondi Pub Rock Resurgence

Bondi Pub Rock Resurgence

Monday, 14 November 2016

There is a rumbling of drums, guitars, and keyboards rhythmically rising from the iconic nine hole golf course in North Bondi. Rumours are circulating amongst the more musically literate locals that something special may be starting to happen within that unique clubhouse.

The Bondi Golf and Diggers Club on the headlands in North Bondi has a rich and proud history of supporting live music. Before the Golf Club and the Diggers Club merged in 2004, they both in their own right punched well above their weight in bringing the right musical vibes to the locals. In the 90’s great local bands such as Skin, Juice, and Cog were pulling big crowds to the Golf Club, and the Diggers Club took it up another notch with a whole floor dedicated to live music. Prominent local bands including Dig, Custard, Hanging Tree, Juice, Millhouse, Monkey Temple and the larger tours by Skunkhour, Mental As Anything, Dragon, and the Sunnyboys (recently announced Sat 4th Feb 2017 gig at The Enmore) all came through the venue. It is only natural that the merging of the two venues should enhance and amplify this cultural heritage over time.

Despite this musical pedigree in recent years, much like the broader landscape of Sydney, live music in the Golf and Diggers Club had unfortunately taken a back seat to pokies and other priorities and encroachments. However music, like many aspects of contemporary culture, continually evolves in waves and cycles, and alongside the evolution of the music is always the venues. Recent activism around the Keep Sydney Open campaign and the Save Bondi Pavilion campaign has made people reflect on how important a vibrant live music scene is to enhancing their lives, and in order to maintain its place there needs to be support shown. This recent awakening of music conscience is generating a groundswell of re-engaged fans.

Local Bondi drummer Darren ‘Fud’ Ryan, show host on BBR’s Spins & Needles All Vinyl Radio Show, points out “People want to see quality live music in comfortable venues, with well priced food and drinks, and good production. You can see the engagement and enjoyment with the thousands who came out to see Hoodoo Gurus, Art vs Science, and emerging local supports at Bondi Pavilion recently, as well as the growth over the past few years of our local digital broadcaster Bondi Beach Radio now hosting a full live showgrid 7 days a week 7am to midnight and attracting thousands of listeners including over a quarter from overseas.”

A recent survey by Bondi Beach Radio noted the capacity of live music venues in Sydney’s centre and east has reduced by 65% thanks to the NSW Governments ill conceived lock out laws forcing closures of many iconic locations. Of those few venues remaining, a remarkable 70% currently cater to electronic artists, reflecting what many in the industry believe to be a peak period for the genre. Which of course opens the door for a resurgence in classic Australian pub rock, the music that Bondi Golf and Diggers built its collective reputation on.

Newly formed Bondi band Dirty Billy are one of the groups leading this resurgence. Guitarist Paul ‘West’ Coleman says “The Golf Club has been in my family since I can remember. Music was prominent as well because it was a huge social gathering for the community. So many people want live music and our generation is driving that comeback.” Dirty Billy vocalist Tony ‘Trotsky’ Potter, former front man of regular Diggers headliners Millhouse and Stretch Armstrong, is also working hard for the revival of the scene. “Look at all the iconic live band venues that have closed in recent years in Sydney. Hopetoun, Landsdowne, Phoenecian Club, Annandale, Q-Bar, Spectrum, Excelsior … with Diggers we have such a great heritage to build from, and we have seen time and again strong scenes will emerge with the right ingredients.”

As well as Bondi Golf and Diggers starting to get behind bands again, the Royal Hotel on Bondi Road, and the Beach Road Hotel also continue to support live bands, the recently refurbished Jam Gallery at Bondi Junction provides a larger capacity space for bands, and if the Save Bondi Pavilion campaign wins the day, the grand old building will continue to provide the space for multi room multi sound system festivals in the cultural heart of Bondi.


Check out the classic B side vibes of Dirty Billy Sunday Nov 20 at Bondi Golf & Diggers Club 4pm-7pm

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