By Richie Goodacre

If you surveyed 100 people and asked them what the music capital of Australia was, it would be understandable if the most common answers among the bunch were Sydney or Melbourne. After All, both cities have long since established themselves as a hub for emerging artists over the year. But the contribution of Australia’s third biggest city, Brisbane, should not be overlooked. Brisbane played a considerable role in shaping what the music industry is today. First of note was the Punk rock movement that emerged from the city in the seventies. This was in response to the corruption of longest state premier Joh-Bjelkie Peterson and his cabinet. Punk rock as a genre was rapidly gaining popularity as crowds showed up in droves to hear these artists bellow anti-establishment anthems for a voiceless nation. Among the new artists that emerged from this movement were The Saints and The Go-Betweens, who would become two of the most influential bands in Australian music history. 

While The Saints are considered a Brisbane success story, there remained this perception within the industry that you need to move interstate to advance your career (mainly Sydney Or Melbourne). This narrative was squashed in the 90s with the emergence of Powderfinger. Powderfinger has become one of the most celebrated bands in Australian music history. The group won 18 Aria Awards (the second most awards behind Silverchair) and multiple multi-platinum records. From 1989 until their breakup in 2010, their home base has remained in Brisbane, which has encouraged artists to stay in the Sunshine State, most notably Regurgitator, who have remained Brisbane locals since they formed in 1992. 

The modern-day gig circuit has flourished in the last decade due to hosting popular events such as Big Sound, the biggest music gathering in the southern hemisphere. With 150 acts descending on Queensland’s capital to share in the love of music with performances across Fortitude Valley’s live music precinct. The aim is also to inspire the next generation with the Big Sound conference featuring talks and panels by some of the leading men and women in the industry. 

This reputation is a far cry from often referred to as ‘the city that demolishes venues.’ The arts sector usually has to fight tooth and nail to prove how vital their contribution is to society, With the state government opting to close or destroy venues in favour of Apartment complexes. Most notably, The Festival Hall in 2003 was infamous for hosting Australia’s iconic bands. 

Thankfully there seems to be a shift in perception; seeing how lockout laws affected live entertainment in Sydney, Brisbane has taken steps to ensure that music stays alive and thrives. With the opening of the Fortitude Valley Music Hall by Powderfinger Bassist John Collins, more festivals emerging, crowds flocking to venues post-lockdowns, and great initiatives like Vermilion Records, the industry is in good stead to thrive into the future.   


Edwards, B., 2019. Discover how the past 30 years shaped Brisbane’s music scene.- [Accessed 8 September 2022].”>

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