Sonic Youth Members, Billy Bragg Announced For Melbourne Festival

30 July 2012 | 6:48 pm | Scott Fitzsimons

An extensive look at the whole line-up!

Announced this evening, The Melbourne Festival always brings an undeniable buzz, due to the calibre of shows that come to the nation's trammed city. This year is Artistic Director Brett Sheehy's fourth and final festival before he moves on to his new post as Artistic Director of the MTC and the line-up he has for Melbourne Festival 2012 is huge here's a shorten guide to what's worth checking out.

Head here for ticket details.

Without further delay, here's our picks this year's line-up:


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Australian Premiere

The newly re-opened Hamer Hall will be the setting for the epic Swanlights, Antony Hegarty's (Antony & The Johnsons) unique collaboration with New York's Museum Of Modern Art, the New York Symphony Orchestra, light artist Chris Levine and set designer Carl Robertshaw. Originally staged at the Radio City Music Hall, this piece was intended as a one-off work of art, but gets a redux at Melbourne Festival. Envisioned as “a meditation of light, nature and femininity,” Swanlights will see Hegarty backed by a 44-piece orchestra as “flickering lasers and dancing holograms” play across crystalline structures hanging from the ceiling.

Pic by Jan Erik Svendsen

Friday 12 October – Saturday 13 October, Hamer Hall


THEEsatisfaction are “the hottest thing in psychedelic feminist-R&B-funk-rap” proclaims the Melbourne Festival press, and we're not going to argue with that. Their debut album, AwE NaturalE, is one of our fave records of the year, and the Seattle-based duo will be playing from it on this, their debut Australian tour. Joining them on the co-headlining bill is Big Freedia. “I don't want to see your face, I just want to see your ass” – commanded Altercation, the head of Big Freedia's dance posse at the Meredith Music Festival 2011, before treating punters to the most vigorous ass workout ever… That show delighted the Meredith Music Festival, her sideshows at the Workers left the room sweating and her booty-shaking classes at the Toff were legendary. Big Freedia makes you feel good to be alive. (For those up for trying the booty bounce: 1. Hands on the wall; 2. Bounce on your ankles; 3. Attitude is required.)

Big Freedia

Thursday 18 October, The Hi Fi Melbourne


Few names loom as large in alternative rock as Steve Albini. As an audio engineer he's worked with some of the most influential bands of the past 20 years – everyone from Nirvana and Pixies to Dirty Three and Smog. But before that he played in heavyweights Big Black and Shellac. Describing themselves as a “minimalist rock trio”, the latter's brutally reductionist songs are music at its most primal. They rarely perform live, but Shellac will play two shows at the Hi Fi, with tickets just $40.

Friday 19 October & Saturday 20 October, The Hi Fi Melbourne


This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Woody Guthrie, the Dust Bowl troubadour whose politically-charged folk has influenced everyone from Bob Dylan to Rage Against The Machine. Brit songwriter Billy Bragg – no stranger to a protest tune himself – has been a long-time champion of Guthrie. Bragg's 1998 collaboration with Wilco, setting music to unheard Guthrie lyrics, produced the excellent Mermaid Avenue (recently released in a three-volume box set), and he'll be airing those tunes and more during a one-off show at the Melbourne Recital Centre celebrating Guthrie's work through song and spoken word. Bragg backs it up the following night with a show exploring his own back catalogue.

Pic by Anthony Saint John

Friday 19 October, Hamer Hall
Saturday 20 October, Melbourne Recital Centre


Recently named the greatest guitarist of all-time alongside his Sonic Youth bandmate Thurston Moore by Spin Magazine, Lee Ranaldo will “perform an expansive suite of songs” from his acclaimed solo album of this year, Between The Time And The Tides. Support comes from Sydney wig-out masters The Laurels, hitting town on the back of their ace debut album.

Wednesday 24 October, The Hi Fi Melbourne


Moore, meanwhile, will be performing from a solo record of his own, Demolished Thoughts, in a show described as a “mature acoustic set, interspersed with poetry readings”. His band will include harp and violin, with support coming from Kieran Ryan, one-half of Kid Sam.

Thursday 25 October, Hamer Hall


Pairing live instrumentation and samples has long been a feature of Tamil Rogeon's work with The Raah Project and True Live, and the Melbourne musician will again fuse forms in this show billed as “a cinematic blend of bossa nova, beats, brass and strings”. Inspired by shooting death of an English teacher by an off-duty policeman in Rio De Janeiro in 2007, 24 Hours In Lapa will also feature UK jazz singer Krystle Warren and top local guitarist Doug De Vries.

Friday 19 October, Melbourne Recital Centre


World Premiere

“More house party than Grand Opera” – The Age. This review makes Opera seem like a genre that's not just for dads and nor should it be. Melbourne's Chamber Made Opera bring this World Premiere to the Melbourne Festival, Margaret Cameron and David Young's score is a composition of image, found objects and baroque instruments and has taken it's inspiration from Monteverdi's lost opera.

Thursday 18 October – Saturday 20 October, Melbourne Recital Centre



World Premiere

Plays based on Henrik Ibsen works have been plentiful on the Australian stage in recent memory with Stone's The Wild Duck and Schlusser's A Dolls House. This year Melbourne Festival has brought back Schaubuhne Berlin with a co-commission piece with the Melbourne Festival of An Enemy Of The People one of Ibsen's most political works. When Ibsen completed the play he famously said, “I am a little hesitant about… whether I should call it a comedy of a drama.” This production will be directed by the 'very now' Thomas Ostermeier. Schaubuhne Berlin brought us Hedda Gabler as part of Melbourne Festival 2011.

Pic by Arno Declair

Sunday 21 October – Saturday 27 October, The Arts Centre


World Premiere

So we're all talking about The Rabble and this Melbourne Festival they are bringing us Orlando after Virginia Woolf's gender-bending novel that was published in 1928. This semi-biographical novel was in part based on the life of Woolf's lover Vita Sackville-West. In this production Orlando will be a pre-Raphaelite punk. The Rabble's artistic directors Kate Davis and Emma Valente are known for the visual spectacles they create on stage. (*cough LaMama's Special *cough *cough) Special starred a very pregnant Mary Helen Sassman and was recommended for its trippy qualities that were beautifully realised. Look at that Orlando image below... and don't pretend you don't focus on the nip initially.

Friday 12 October – Thursday 25 October, The Malthouse Tower Theatre


Australian Premiere

Performed by seven fourteen-year-olds who will be sitting in a glass box onstage, they won't be able to see us, but we can see them… like fish in a fishbowl. Each child actor plays themselves, this is an adult experience but only children appear in it. Created by CAMPO and GobSquad (Performed in Dutch and English).

Pic by Phile Deprez

Wednesday 24 October – Saturday 27 October, The Malthouse: Merlyn Theatre


World Premiere

Created by Polyglot Theatre, if you're not under the age of one you'll miss out on this theatrical experience where babies are able to interact with other babies. It's all about promoting “cultural inclusion from the earliest age” reckons Polyglot artistic director Sue Giles. Forget colouring in on an iPad's this is an experience that will immerse the lil 'uns and let them explore the clouds.

Wednesday 24 October – Sunday 28 October, The Arts Centre, State Rehearsal Room


Melbourne Premiere

A musical biography about Chet Baker that stars Tim Draxl (who just might be Baker's doppelganger). This piece is devised and written by Bryce Hallett and Draxl, and will chronicle all Baker's classics.

Tuesday 16 October - Saturday 20 October, The Arts Centre: Fairfax Studio


“Poetry is meant for performance by the human voice,” English 'lad' Luke Wright has a unique, laid back approach to poetry which makes it refreshingly accessible. Anyone who has ever heard Sylvia Plath read Lady Lazarus will know that hearing a poet recite his/her own prose is a truly unique experience.

Check out Luke Wright having a cheeky pint, whilst reciting The Company Of Men:

Side note: loving the line “so by sixteen… I was arty”.

Luke Wright pic by Rebecca Bruce

Cynical Ballads: Tuesday 23 October – Saturday 27 October, The Malthouse
Square Poets: Thursday 23 October – Saturday 27 October, Federation Square


Inspired by themes in Christos Tsiolkas' novel The Slap, ...Harm is a dance/theatre piece from Force Majeure which is led by Artistic Director Kate Champion. As a company they spoke to/interviewed people of all ages and backgrounds about what is good parenting. This year the company joined forces with Sydney Theatre Company to produce Never Did Me Any Harm, as well as working on Food, a co-production with Belvoir.

Pic by Lisa Tomasetti

Tuesday 9 October – Saturday 13 October, MTC – Summer Theatre


Everyone has dreamt about running away to the circus… this Melbourne Festival you kinda can for a few hours. The Forum will be transformed into a cabaret salon and be taken over by a troupe of artists for La Soiree. They include Ursula Martinez, Adonis and the always entertaining Le Gateau Chocolate.

Pic by Magnus Hastings

Thursday 11 October – Sunday 18 November, The Forum



This year at the Melbourne Festival there will be a mini-film festival curated by Richard Moore (Director of Brisbane International Film Festival and former director of MIFF).

Highlights include:

Andrew Bird: Fever Yeara rockumentary:

Joe Papp In Five Acts - a portrait of Joe Papp the transformative figure in the New York theatre world. Features interviews with Meryl Strep, Christopher Walken and Martin Sheen.

About Facea documentary directed by portrait photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders about the modelling industry (ohhh intriguing). Includes interviews with Jerry Hall and Carmen Dell'Orefice who is still modelling at the age of 80.

Wagner's Dream – a documentary that chronicles the staging of Lepage's Ring - a sixteen hour opera.

Venues: ACMI Cinemas and Greater Union



World Premiere

Enter a smoke-filled glass house… on the stage at Sidney Myer Music Bowl. That's right, on the stage! It's from Chunky Move's new Artistic Director Anouk Van Dijk who took over from founder Gideon Obarzanek this month. This piece is the third part of a series from Dijk which explores human behaviour in response to their environment. The first two parts were performed in The Netherlands on the island of Terchelling and a shipyard warehouse in Amsterdam

Check out Shoz (2008) the first part of the series:

“Dancers are always balancing on the edge of success and failure. This vulnerability is also a strength and, as a creator, I want to show that area of tension.” Anouk Van Dijk.

Thursday 18 October – Saturday 27 October, Sidney Myer Music Bowl


Australian Premiere

Two Swiss choreographers Perrine Valli and Cindy Van Acker will join with two Australian chorographers Sandra Parker and Matthew Day in a sequence of four solo dances.

Pic by Frédéric Lombard

Wednesday 24 October – Saturday 27 October, Dancehouse


Australian Premiere

Akram Khan brought Vertical Road to the Melbourne Festival 2010 but this year Khan will be here with his solo show. And, the set is created by Tim Yip – who created the sets for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon that won him an Oscar for Art Direction. Khan most recently choreographed a section of Danny Boyle's Isles Of Wonder last Friday for the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.
Have a look at Khan dancing Desh at London's Curve Theatre last year:

Tuesday 16 October – Sunday 21 October , MTC: Summer Theatre



World Premiere

Last year we had Angels-Demons, this year in a display of public art we have a global art piece from Santiago Sierra. Destroyed Word has spanned over two years and ten countries. Sierra has been obliterating letters throughout the world that will create a word. Melbourne Festival will be the location for the final letter, and the world will know the word and Sierra's project will be complete… 

Wednesday 10 October, Destruction, ACCA Forecourt
Wednesday 17 October – Saturday 27 October, Exhibition, NGV


Photographer Gregory Crewdson presents three series of his elaborately stage works that have made him a staple of contemporary art. Photography students fan-boi/fan-girl over Crewdson whose approach to photography is very theatrical. 

Opening Thursday 27 September, 6pm Centre For Contemporary Photography until 11 November.
Crewdson will also give a free public lecture during the festival on Thursday 11 October at RMIT Capitol Theatre.