Let’s face it, Sydney certainly has a lot of great venues but like so many cultural capitals they do not necessarily reflect  a country's underground scene where all the good stuff happens.

For an often-overlooked region, the Illawarra certainly packs a punch and being overlooked is probably why.

Hidden rehearsal spaces, friendly noncompetitive scenes and a myriad of tiny venues and appreciative audiences make a perfect melting pot for a buoyant mini-music industry.

Globally, second and third cities far, from the bright lights of the capitals, allow pioneering talent to ferment their sound for longer. Just look at how Seattle and Manchester scenes enjoy a rich culture of indie labels and cult bands making their own distinct sounds. The Illawarra is no different.

Dominated by the successful Yours & Owls team, and reinforced by other smaller promoters and independent venue operators plugged into the cottage labels and their burgeoning rosters, there are gigs on every night of the week.

From singer songwriter acoustic sets in cool bars and restaurant spaces to bigger stages and festivals hosting the stars of the region and touring national hitmakers, there is always something happening.

Lachy Starling, rock photographer, image of a guitarist on stage in the Illawarra.

For the in-the-know-low-fi post-surf crowd, Spunk Records of Stanwell Park host regular happenings at Wombarra Bowlo that sell out as soon as they are announced. Super-curated guests appear regularly at the speakeasy-come –record store Frank’s Wild Years in Thirroul as well as excellent acoustic guests at Papi Dulci just over the railway bridge. Next door Ryan’s Hotel host bigger bands and then there a multiple of micro-brewary and hotels stops from the northern villages south to the regional hub of Wollongong and its university venues, hotel venues and key indie hotspots such as The Shy Postie and La La La’s.

Festivals, DJ nights, hosted events (Crown graffiti store have just started promoting their own shows) and one-offs proliferate in such numbers they are able to sustain a scene many would not expect, one that gives shape and distinct style to the coastal communities from Sydney to Merimbula. Post punk, rock, pop, EDM, ambient and some pretty serious up and coming talent craft  the unique scene.

So for making the most of taking your day into night, the music culture of the Illawarra is on point. Check out the GPC Sounds journal for a monthly flavour of the Illawarra or follow us on soundcloud for hours of endless streaming.

Music blogAustralian music blog
Stay amped.