"Treat Us Like Kids, Things Get Colourful": Sydney Band Spill On Their House Party

11 February 2016 | 12:14 pm | Uppy Chatterjee

We talk to Big White about the 400-strong house party they threw

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It's the crazy house party everyone's been talking about — hosted by none other than Sydney buzz band Big White. Pulling a crowd of over 400 people at their home and their sixth of the kind (five of which were charity shows), the band were fundraising for their upcoming SXSW trip next month. The photos are amazing and their set itself was amazing — but we sought to find out the true reason the band decided to host a gig like this.
With musicians left, right and centre voicing their thoughts on Sydney's controversial lockout laws this week as the legislation's 18-month review approaches (and Premier Mike Baird stepped in it with that Facebook post), Big White are another band that are fed up with being mollycoddled. As the band's Jack Wotton tells theMusic.com.au exclusively, when there's nowhere to go, kids make their own fun.

What needs to be done about the lockouts?

The lockouts have made it very tricky for licensees to run their own business in the CBD and in a snowball effect, the surrounding areas of Sydney. I've watched friends of mine work incredibly hard to shift with the tide and I'm impressed with how the likes of Mark Gerber and so on have managed to stay agile and keep on rolling. Promoters like James Spink get away with big events like Volumes 2015 for example by ticking every box and throwing a big fun party, exemplifying how you can still have fun in the city even with the headmasters around. These are special occasions though. The bottom line is the hard and fast laws have made it hard for patrons to simply have a good time, with so many restrictions on how many tea spoons of alcohol one is allowed before bed time. Working at a bar I'm all about responsible service, as are my colleagues; we are trained and expected to look after our fellow party people. With or without lockouts you're going to wake up with a hangover either way. To answer the question, the lockouts didn't exist once upon a time, a time when people were treated like adults. I think instead of saying 'NO' and getting told to sit in the corner I think ideas of empathy — and implementing some kind of program in schools which teaches children to embrace their feminine side — could potentially shift the so-called violent culture which the lockouts are said to be fighting. 
Nights like The Surgery Party are getting bigger since the lockouts because they're inclusive environments. Everyone is welcome. You’re met at the door with a smile and a thank you, not a mountain of hi-vis who hands you a list of do's and don'ts and pats you on the head halfway through your night saying 'its bed time buddy.' If it were up to the venues they wouldn't have it this way, it's unfortunate how much pressure they have on them from the police, OLGR etc. Until lockouts in Sydney are eased up though, people who want to have fun ALL night, without that pressure being put unto them also, are going to seek out parties like ours to have a good time.

2. What are you doing to monitor safety for all attendees at these house parties?

I think people who are smart enough to organise events like ours are aware of what might go down. We are lucky, we have 10+ people living here, so we've got a decent sized crew. We stay on the ball and keep an eye out on key issues: the noise level, intoxication, capacity and so on. To be honest though, things run smoothly every time. There are no Corey Worthingtons here.
Paying for the show is by donation. No one wants to be the idiot who screws up at a charity show. Every party we've thrown we have worked with the cops when they show up to make their job easier. If they say they want the party shut down, we shut it down. We give them our numbers and say call us if you have any more problems. We almost got their numbers once. So in a way we kind of informally regulate it together.
It’s historically noted that with a push comes a pull.  Significant cultural shifts have come out of oppression. If you want to look at the garage music that came from the desolation in Detroit or how Chicago house came to be, or the crazy parties that came out of queer culture in a repressed 1960s Melbourne, they went to town because the government pushed them around. We don't throw these parties as a conscious fuck you, but this is an example of what happens when you treat us like kids. Things get colourful. 
It shouldn't be illegal to have bands play in a house, in a secure environment, but while it is you've just gotta do your best to keep the law on side. You just gotta understand what it is you're doing and play it cool. I don't think families are going to let go of the sweet sounds of suburban silence on a Friday night in any time soon. And while that's the case we'll just have to keep pushing their patience in the most respectful way possible.

3. What do you think of mike Baird's statement on Facebook?

Baird will never budge, we all know that. There's too much in it for him to let it go now. He's another politician who has everything to gain and nothing to lose by standing by this black and white law. There's an enormous casino coming up on the edge of town, and The Cross is close to levelled. Do the math. He's getting excited and let's face it, we've all made posts on the socials after a 'few' that we might regret one day.

4. How far out of the lockouts was the party? Did anything go down badly?

Our house is way out of the lockouts. They don't need lockouts out here because everything is already undergoing extreme development. Nothing is open past 10 anyway. We didn't cap it this time because it got shut down real close to capacity. We would if it came to though. 

There were no dramas. Unless you consider loosening up, dancing to bands and meeting people a crazy unworldly thing which should be eradicated from Sydney, to quote "the best city in the world." The single fact that 400 people can be in one area hanging out without harming one another comes as no surprise to us. Heavy security is a sign of insecurity. Everyone was here to have a good time.