Suburban Vibes – Showcasing Homegrown Talent In Intimate Spaces Throughout Subiaco

Published in Music  
Top L-R: Duncan Saige, Teischa; bottom L-R: Jordy Maxwell, Joan and the Giants Top L-R: Duncan Saige, Teischa; bottom L-R: Jordy Maxwell, Joan and the Giants

For one week in October, Suburban Vibes will host 25 artists in 9 spaces in Subiaco, bringing their signature chilled and intimate style that has seen them sell out shows in Perth, Fremantle and across WA.

First created in 2016 by husband-wife team Jono and Regan Grant (who answered a social media call-out to host Nathan Hawes and 70 of his fans in their own backyard), you can catch homegrown talent like Ben Catley, Jack Davies & The Bush Chooks, Helen Shanahan and more in iconic locations including laneways, galleries, bars, and unexpected places from 8-16 October.

The history of Suburban Vibes; can you take us back to that first event staged in your own backyard with Nathan Hawes; how did it all come about?
Regan: Just by complete chance. Nathan was in town and his one show had sold-out, so he put out on his social media for someone to host a backyard show. We happened to come across it and thought 'how cool would that be'.

We sent him some photos of our back garden and the following night opened our home to 70 strangers. He had Riley Pearce as a support act who absolutely blew us away with his set. Live music in your own backyard! It was such a beautiful night.

After that first event, what was the catalyst to start arranging more intimate shows and building towards an event like Suburban Vibes; what was the initial goal of the venture? We were completely changed after that first show. We knew we had experienced something very special and just wanted to do it all over again.

We started coming up with ideas of how to do it better next time. We just couldn't leave it alone. We so desperately wanted to share the same special experience with everyone.

We threw out some names and came up with Suburban Vibes and created an Instagram page and started following some of our favourite indie/ folk artists.

We had a duo called the Weeping Willows stumble upon our page and asked if we would host a show for them. They had Helen Shanahan as support and there we had our 'first' Suburban Vibes show. We've now hosted over 50 and even though we've grown and moved into larger venues, we still like to keep the same chilled, intimate vibe.

What's the charm, appeal of Suburban Vibes that attracts so many people year in, year out?
They really are beautiful shows. We use gorgeous venues that we style with cushions, rugs, and tables, under the warm light of festoons.

Our crowd are always super respectful. You feel like you're watching a personal concert with a bunch of good friends. They pack their own cheese platters and bottles of wine and settle in for an intimate night of music.

We set the expectation in a welcome email that there'll be loads of time to mingle in breaks, but while the artists are on, we ask that they limit talking and getting up and down.

We want you to immerse yourself in their story and their music, and experience these artists in a more vulnerable and stripped-back environment. You could hear a pin drop at our Kim Churchill show with a 400-strong crowd.

It feels like it's just you and the artist connecting. They open up and share the background on how they come to write a song and there's always an important message in there. There's loads of laughter and sometimes tears, and with the likes of Jack Botts or Felipe Baldomir, there's also definitely some dancing.

The social aspect of each event; mingling with other music lovers, even the artists themselves; how important is that community vibe to the success of the Suburban Vibes brand?
Oh, extremely important. We have such a beautiful community. Some of our punters over the years have become great friends.

Steph, the beautiful soul that welcomes everyone at the door, was one of our regular attendees who always jumped up and offered to help and now she is part of the Suburban Vibes family.

One of our best friends showed us a clip of a young girl, Ilish, singing in her bedroom. We went on to have her open one of our shows. She is just amazing and has gone on to support many other artists. Ilish, along with her dad Tom, make up our production team.

We've hosted short movie premiers alongside our live music to support other young photographers/videographers, as well as collaborated with Ottway The Label who did a pop-up store at a show earlier this year.

Jono and I personally host and MC these shows, so people have come to know us. Many people come up and thank us after the show which is so sweet.

We've come to know the regulars, and many have become friends and I'm always looking after people, making sure they've got a cushion or are comfortable. People just pitch in at the end of the night and help us roll up rugs.

We have this one older couple in their 60s that come to almost every show. I always take comfortable chairs for them, so they don't have to get up and down off the floor.

Musicians refer other artists who reach out to request to play a show and we host interstate artists at our home, so they don't have to shell out for accommodation. Our lives are certainly richer from the people and artists we've met along the way. I'm super proud of the community that has blossomed from our shows.

The festival this year stretches across 9 days and features 25 artists performing everywhere in Subiaco from laneways and galleries to bars and unexpected places; with so much carnage in the music industry during the pandemic, how extra special is it to be able to host these concerts this year?
Aren't we so lucky.

Straight after our first lockdown we did a Winter Warehouse series in collaboration with one of our venues the Assembly Yard. We had the space that allowed the 2 metre square rule, we did our COVID training and at the time, pubs and venues were still closed.

At that time government regulations only allowed us to have gatherings of 20 people and we were going to run with that but by the time we went live, it changed to 100 which was great. We ran eight sold-out shows over a two-month period. The support was huge, and the artists really appreciated the opportunity to play to an audience again.

There's never been a more important time than now to get behind your favourite band or artist. Get out there, buy tickets and go to that gig.

If it's rescheduled, hold on to your tickets instead of getting a refund. Jump online and buy their merch.

The affects that COVID-19 has had on the music industry is just crippling. Jono and I have full-time careers outside of the music industry, so everything we do is to support these artists.

Highlights of this year's programme; who's caught your ear that we should add to our next playlist?
Oh no, I can't name one without naming the other 24! They are all amazing. Jack Davies and the Bush Chooks at the Regal Theatre is going to be a highlight for sure. Jump onto the Suburban Vibes in Subiaco Spotify playlist and wrap your ears around them all.

The depth and level of indie musicians in Western Australia; how much talent is bubbling away just below the surface and gaze of the mainstream?
We have a tonne of absolutely ridiculous talent here in WA. I'm always surprised and find myself wondering why isn't this artist more well-known? A lot of our patrons don't know the artists they're coming to see, but they fall well in love with them all by the end of the night.

Do you have any other events in the works; other event ideas percolating in the background?
We sure do. We were about to announce Kim Churchill and The Dreggs at the Quarry Amphitheatre in November, but border closures have pushed that out to March next year which is devastating. We have Austin Mackay coming at the end of October and a bunch of Byron Bay favourites booked in for the first half of next year, and a possible collaboration that will see us head up to the northwest of WA.

Suburban Vibes runs in multiple Subiaco spaces and venues 8-16 October and is an initiative of See Subiaco.



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