A Sunday of Music – Brunswick Festival

(pic - Story) Brunnie Festival - Title

I said to a friend of mine, when we were sitting in the Spotted Mallard listing to a jazz band, that this was the day when all of the weird and wonderful people of Brunswick swarm out onto the streets. Well, I have to be honest that you will probably find this on most days in Brunswick (considering that Brunswick is one of those hip and happening parts of Melbourne), and also it is not necessarily that Brunswick has a monopoly on weird and wonderful people (even if one of those people does happen to have a plastic bow tie in their beard). Granted, Brunswick has character, but so does Fitzroy, Collingwood, Northcote, Prahran, and a number of other suburbs scattered about inner Melbourne, but then again the more I think about it the more I have to admit that each of those suburbs does have a character all of their own (you generally don’t find the people of Prahran wandering around the streets of Brunswick).

However, the first Sunday in March (I believe, or at least it was this year) is the day when they close off Sydney Road, set up a number of stages, erect a multitude of stores, and people then flood out onto the street to enjoy a bit of festive cheer. Yep, this is the Brunswick Music Festival (actually the Sydney Road Street Party – the actual festival begins a couple of days after), and despite having been in Melbourne for about three years, this was the first time I decided to check it out, and I have to admit that it definitely won’t be the last.

(pic - Story) Brunnie Festival - Street Party
Same scene – different location

Anyway, the tram unfortunately stopped a little way before the start of the street party, but fortunately there were shuttle buses running so I jumped onto one and got off at the entrance. By the way, the street party (as are most street parties) was free, so all I needed to do was to walk past the blockades and there I was, surrounded by people. And yes, as I suggested, this place was full of some of the most weird and wonderful people that the inner north could drag up (and I suspect that some people from the south side of Yarra made there was up here as well). Anyway, sure enough, the first thing that I encountered was a stage where some young lady was performing, and I was going to see a number of others as I made my way down Sydney road. However the first thing that caught my attention was this stall selling antiques.

I actually spent a bit of time marvelling at the wonders of this stall, but I have to admit that these antiques were actually priced like antiques and a part of me really wasn’t all that keen to blow my life savings on buying a Spartan Helmet, an old telescope, a sextant, and some compasses that nobody would ever get to see (and would end up gathering dust). Mind you, I’m probably more like my Aunty (who used to be an antique dealer) and would rather buy an antique that was way underpriced than something that was clearly priced at (or over) what the market could bare. Still, these antiques were cool, and I did get some photos before the store owner shooed me away.

So, I continued through the crowds, past some women on stilts (and seriously, how do these people manage to walk on stilts without falling flat on their face – I could never do it) and found myself outside the Penny Black. Well, a pub (in fact one of a number), that was one of the go to places in Brunswick, so I decided to head inside and see what was happening.

(pic - Story) Brunnie Festival - Penny Black

As was expected, it was packed. Well, it wasn’t that packed, but there were quite a few people inside (though most of them were out in the beer garden, probably because there was a hip-hop artist on the stage in the main bar – which is also why I went out the back). Fortunately I managed to find myself a seat, and sat down and enjoyed the atmosphere (while also reading my book – Heretics by G.K. Chesterton – a friend of mine made a comment at it was a little light reading; I’m going to have to disagree with him since the book I’m reading at the moment – The C++ Programming Language – probably falls into that category, at least where I’m concerned). Anyway, after finishing off my beer, I decided to leave and continue exploring Sydney Road.

Sure enough, the next place I came across was something that I was looking for – a food stall. However this wasn’t any old food stall, this was an Indian Stall selling goat curry. I love goat curry so I made a bee line towards the counter and immediately ordered one, and then found a nice kerb where I could sit down. Actually, that happened to be in front of the Mr Burger Van, which I have to admit I wasn’t surprised to see here in Brunswick. Hey, if you see it around the place go and grab a burger – they’re pretty good.

The problem with having the curry though was that when I finished it I found myself holding an empty, and rather dirty, container. So I had to go and find some rubbish bins (though I suspect that there were a lot of people here that weren’t as honourable as I was). This, unfortunately, meant that I had to go past the stall where my friends where (it was the local Anglican Church and had second-hand books on sale – I was originally going to put my hand up and suggest that I would price the books, since asking for donations mean that some quite valuable books end up flying out the door for much less than they are worth), but in the end I simply wanted to experience the festival. Hopefully they will run the stall next year so I can dump some unwanted books on them (they were asking for some).

Fortunately I did find some bins, so I disposed of my rubbish, and continued walking when I came across a small brass band standing in the middle of the street. So, like a lot of other people, I decided to video them, though unlike a lot of people, who will probably never watch the video again (why is it that people take videos of concerts? I know I’ve never watched any of the videos I took at concerts despite the fact that they are sitting in a folder entitled ‘Videos’ on my computer).

I probably should mention the stalls, namely because you will find hundreds of them packing the sidewalk between the stages (actually they were on the road, but then again you don’t walk on the sidewalk at a street party). Sure enough you have the clothing stalls, but don’t expect to find Guchi or any of those high name labels, rather expect to find the types of clothes that you would expect to find the people of Brunswick wearing (and it is probably a really good time to go out and buy some hipster fashion).

You have the food stalls, and some areas that have been fenced off selling alcohol, but I tend to prefer walking into the pubs when I want a drink rather than sitting in one of those outdoor areas – though what you will discover is that these outdoor areas tend to be set up by a brewery trying to entice people into tasting their latest batch. However, with the plethora of pubs lining Sydney Road, I didn’t see the need to go into one of those areas, especially since I prefer the ambience of a Sydney Road pub.

Oh, I probably shouldn’t forget all of the clubs, societies, organisations, and political parties also setting themselves up to take advantage of all the people out having fun. My church, while not having their own stall, where helping out at a stall of one of the other churches. As for the political parties, I tend to stay away from them, though I did resist the temptation to share my thoughts with the ALP (though I don’t think I saw a stall for the Liberals there, but then again this is Brunswick – I doubt they are going to be picking any votes up here).

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My next stop was the Brunswick Green, which I must admit is a pretty cool bar, with the walls covered in all sorts of things, and a wonderful beer garden to boot (I love a good beer garden). Oh, as I was walking out I discovered that they had a huge picture of Alfred from Mad Magazine on one of the walls.

However, it was at that time that I discovered that a couple of friends of mind were at the Spotted Mallard, so I checked Google Maps and discovered it was across the road (I love it when I discover that friends are right across the road), so I popped in there, said hello, and listened to some jazz before continuing on my journey. Oh, I should mention that the Spotted Mallard makes a wicked poutine.

Anyway, after finishing off my beer and saying farewell to my friends, I headed back out onto Sydney Road and continued to make my way to the south, at which point I discovered another thing that was wonderfully and uniquely Bruswick, and I guess this video that I took of this act says it all:

As you can see, there is something that is just weird and wonderful about Brunswick.

After spending a few minutes watching this ostentatious display, I then continued to make my way along the road, and out of the corner of my eye I saw this rather interesting inflatable slide. Actually I thought it was pretty cool because it was basically a sinking ship. Actually I’d have to say that it was the Titanic because there isn’t a sinking ship any more famous than the Titanic.

(pic - Story) Brunnie Festival - Sinking Titanic

Well, it was coming to the end of my time on Sydney Road, however there was one place I wanted to visit before I headed off to church for the evening service, and that was the Brunswick Hotel, otherwise known as the Brunnie. I knew it was one of Melbourne’s popular live music venues, but when I tend to pass by it is generally when they don’t have live music playing. However this was the Brunswick Music Festival and if there was going to be a place where live music was being played it was going to be the Brunnie. Mind you my friend told me that it was going to be hard and heavy, but that hasn’t put me off in the past, especially since I went through an exceptionally long heavy metal phase in my youth.

Well I have to admit that he was right – it was really hard and really heavy. Mind you I only saw two acts, one when I first arrived, and another when I dashed back here as soon as the church service finished (yes, I know, that probably says something about where my priorities really lie, but then again I have church every Sunday, and there is only one Brunswick Music Festival a year). Anyway the first band was Lieutenant Jam, and I didn’t feel comfortable taking a video of them live, so here is one I embedded from Youtube:

When I came back after church there was a band called Long Holiday playing in the bar. However as I was watching them I noticed that there were a number of rules for the bands posted in the prime position above the bar, and I must admit that some of them where quite interesting. The first rule was that you are not to talk about the rules (fair enough because you’re not allowed to talk about Fight Club either); another was was that you weren’t allowed to play covers of Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, and Oasis (I can sort of see a theme, but I suspect the Oasis rule has more to do with this not being a pub that one would come to so as to hear an Oasis cover – the other two is because, well, you just don’t do that). Anyway, here is a video of Long Holiday:

Anyway, I guess that is it, however another thing I love about Sydney Road are all the old buildings, so I guess I will finish off with some photos of the buildings along the Road.


Creative Commons License

A Sunday of Music – Brunswick Festival by David Alfred Sarkies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you wish to use this work commercially please feel free to contact me.

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