Let’s face it; there are a thousand places and hotspots in Sydney. So many that we if we started with just pizza we'd be hear all week kicking off with @frankiespizzabytheslice and @brooklyncrispy . But if it’s pizza you are not after (and by the way we have to say @francopizzabar new place in Thirroul is rocking) but places to cap off a great day then as far as music is concerned the region south of Sydney metro probably has one of the liveliest scenes in Australia.
For an often-overlooked region it 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 pioneering cities far from the bright lights of the capitals allow talent to ferment for longer. Just look at Seattle and Manchester as scenes out of the spotlight that enjoy a rich culture of indie labels and cult bands making their own distinct sounds. The Illawarra is no different.
Lead by the 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.
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 the regional hub of Wollongong and its university venues, hotel venues and key 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 and one that gives shape and style to the coastal communities from Sydney to Merimbula. Post punk, rock, pop, EDM, ambient and some pretty serious R’n’B break out stars in the making craft a pretty unique scene.
So for making the most of taking your day into night, the music culture of the Illawarra is one of the biggest and badly kept secrets.