As the horde of patrons anxiously looked to the overcast sky, the bars of Newtown, as well as Enmore, Erskineville and Chippendale, opened their doors. With over thirty participating venues playing host to over a hundred artists, one of this year’s biggest music events consumed this pocket of the inner west last Sunday. A celebration of Sydney’s culture, the fourth annual King Street Crawl combined the city’s love of music, bars and alcohol fuelled gigs, giving the world a positive representation of Newtown’s vibrant nightlife.
Cheap drinks and free entry kept the crowd moving from bar to bar up and down King St. The wide variety of musical styles and genres on offer exemplified the diversity of Sydney’s music. From garage rock bands like Crocodylus, psychedelic bands like Wawawow, and hip-hop groups like Triple One, to DJ Sets from huge acts like Polish Club, Yeah Nah Yeahs and DZ Deathrays, everything was on offer. The support of a mixed bill, with venues jumping between distinctly different genres, is indicative of the overwhelming support Sydney and Newtown has for all kinds of music. While every band was fantastic, there were some performances that particularly stood out for the bands’ ability play up to the rowdy audience’s emotional attachment to their local bars and venues.
The Marlborough Hotel hosted the biggest bands, acting as a starting, central location. The opening room was packed shoulder to shoulder, with no clear indication of where the bar line started and where the mosh pit ended. With seemingly no room to move, the crowd managed to bounced around for the Crocodylus’ set, who blasted them with a distinct raw, garage rock sound. Moving further down King St, past the busy kebab shops littered with tipsy patrons, the Bank Hotel highlighted just why it is one of Sydney’s most consistent venues for fun, enjoyable and memorable gigs. While Waywards, the designated stage at the Bank, hosted performances from bands like Bodytype that lived up to the high expectations, it was the smaller front room that provided more intimate and personal shows. The room was tight, but during the performance of Bin Juice, a jazzy fusion of funk and RnB, the small front bar was perfect for the smoother and softer sounds. Bin Juice slowed down the crawl’s hectic pace, enthralling the crowd in a soulful trance. The intimacy of the venue allowed for the playful skill of their exceptional drummer to be showcased to full effect, as every flick of the wrist and rhythmic beat echoed over the dazed audience. Leaving the Bank Hotel, taking the term pub ‘crawl’ a little too literally by this time of the night, even the streets came alive with music. Street performers and buskers united and ravelled in the festivities, with The Regime hosting their own gig outside Newtown Station.
From the Marly Bar positioned at the top of King St, the crawl ended at the Botany View Hotel, a jewel at the border of Newtown and St Peters. The performances at the Botany View were only an improvement on the regular, high quality gigs that the Botany View has become known for, and with the small front room being so packed, even the bands were climbing up on the furniture. The floor was slightly sticky, the air was thick with the stench of sweat and the mosh was alive. While standout performances from Georgia June and Triple One were symbolic of the rowdy pandemonium that was the King Street Crawl, the performance of the event was from Newtown’s own Mac the Knife. Their mix of indie, metal, blues, punk, pop and surf rock was tied together in the band’s genuine talent and musicianship. With a shredding guitar to accompany him, lead singer Bryn paraded through the crowd, intensely starring into the hearts and souls of their Newtown audience. Standing on the bar, the passion in his singing translated to the audience, who went nothing short of mental.
With live music and venues struggling across Sydney, Newtown remains one of the few areas exempt from this trend. As Newtown continues to use this unique position to breed a strong musical culture, events like the King Street Crawl only serve to celebrate this vibrant and artistic area.