RAAVE TAPES: 10 Artists Making Newcastle Great Again

Indie rock trio RAAVE TAPES have become notorious in their native Newcastle for DIY parties and venue takeovers featuring some of their favourite bands.

The latest instalment will see 17 acts – including Haiku Hands, Press Club, Vacations, and Totty – play over three venues at local institution The Cambridge Hotel.  It’s clear RAAVE TAPES have a deep affinity for their hometown, so we asked singer Joab Eastley to tell us about the city’s “seething creative underbelly”. 

Newcastle is an interesting city. A place known for its pristine beaches and reliance on rapidly diminishing coal deposits. In some circles emphasis is slowly beginning to be placed on its seething creative underbelly.

Since the dizzying heights of our silverchair forefathers, our biggest musical contribution to the national dialogue has been the sound of waves crashing on the Pasha Bulka’s hull as it washed up on Nobbys Beach in 2007. While that statement may be delivered with tongue planted firmly in cheek, here’s our predictions as to which current Newcastle artists have the potential to make some proverbial waves of their own.

‘YUK!’

Fritz

Roughly a year ago, a 17-year-old Tilly Murphy recorded a shoegaze dream pop album in her bedroom and chucked it up on Bandcamp. Flash forward 12 months and she can now legally drink a vodka pineapple cruiser and has just completed her first lap of the country. ‘YUK!’ documents Tilly’s hopeless mind-set while coping with a bout of glandular fever. We’re still so damned shocked at how much conviction and authenticity this young artist has managed to cram into two minutes, 30 seconds. I for one welcome our new FRITZ overlord.

‘Hamilton South’

VACATIONS

I have lost track of how many times I’ve been locked in a warm embrace in the middle of a crowd with my closest friends belting out the lyrics to this song. We’ve watched Big Vac go from playing to 20 people in the pouring rain at a crammed Merewether house party, to dominating stages all across Europe – all with minimal backing from radio. They are a testament to the musical ecosystem in which they developed and poster children for the power of the playlist. Filled with hazy, romantic nostalgia for their hometown suburb, the lyrics of ‘Hamilton South’ become ever more poignant as their meteoric rise takes them further and further abroad. This one means a lot to me.

‘Consumed’

PALS

One of the most common revelations people have regarding PALS is, “…they’re all so damned lovely?” Their warm off-stage demeanour is far from the raw, introspective post-punk they convey on stage and their live show is simply enormous. Special mention must be made to their drummer Fraser Marshall. Not only is he one of the best skin slappers in town, he also produces a bunch of local bands in his DIY home studio – including all recent RAAVE TAPES singles. ‘Consumed’ sounds like a long lost b-side from Cloud Nothings’ Attack On Memory. It’s a frenetic take on dealing with social anxiety and showcases everything we love about PALS.

‘Dead or Alive’

Grace Turner

Grace has been carving out a glowing reputation as a soloist for many years, often found peddling heart wrenching folk ballads at The Hamo or The Lass. It’s scientifically proven you can’t have a conversation about Grace Turner without somebody in the room screaming, “THAT VOICE.” Her latest single ‘Dead or Alive’ sees her production step into a more pop-oriented direction, which all the more emphasises the bittersweet melancholy of her song writing.

‘Bluewalking’

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Most Novocastrian experiences of live electronic music consist of dancing to So Fresh Hits Of Winter 2005 remixes in a series of dingy night clubs. I love The Veronicas as much as the next person, but will concede that Newcastle is left wanting when it comes to alternative electronic music. E4 is the outlier. Nobody in Newcastle is pushing boundaries quite like him and we have him on every bill possible. His 2007 EP These Waves is a best consumed whole, but ‘Bluewalking’ is a solid first taste. It bursts out of the gates with that huge chorus hook and effortlessly weaves between a sea of countermelodies and an intricate textural pallet.

‘Eggiwegs’

dave.

At one point last year it felt as though dave were playing three shows a week in Newcastle and people always showed up. The three-piece doesn’t pull any punches with their brand of what-you-see-is-what-you-get Australiana-tinged rock. Combine that with their inarguably airtight live shows, you can’t help but nod your head and smile with everybody’s old mate – dave. Taste these ‘Eggiwegs’ and prove me wrong. Dare ya.

‘Step Back, Fade Away’

King Single

As his mattress-inspired moniker alludes to, sweet boy Bobby makes summer tinged bedroom pop. Combining lo-fi drum loops with understated guitar lines and tender vocals, ‘Step Back, Fade Away’ showcases King Single’s ability to convey emotive themes without overcomplicating things.

‘Tension’

Kira Puru

KP may have moved to Melbourne well before I had anything to do with the Newcastle music scene, but heck yeah, you know we’re going to claim her like an ARIA board member listening to Crowded House in 1987. Puru is one of the most celebrated voices in Australian music and ‘Tension’ is a straight-up disco pop earworm.

‘More Chilli’

Split Feed

Four high school best friends start a punk band, sing a song about the pokies and next thing you know they’re on stage at Groovin The Moo. That’s the way these stories always turn out, yeah? Far from an overnight success, years of relentless touring and just being genuinely lovely people is beginning to pay off for these Kotara High rascals.

‘You’

The Gooch Palms

The scene that spawned RAAVE TAPES owes everything to our Gooch parents. We watched with wide eyes as they traversed the country, carving out a garage-rock DIY blueprint for us to follow. They proved to us it could be done. I still remember the jubilant screenshots and group chats lighting up each time one of our friends received an offer to support them every time their tour rolled into town. ‘You’ is as close as our scene will get to a national anthem. Thank you Kat and Leroy <3

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