The Brag Media
Features January 24, 2020

How the Australian music scene banded together in the bushfire crisis

Anna Rose
How the Australian music scene banded together in the bushfire crisis

How the Australian music scene banded together in a time of crisis, and how that solidarity impacted the world.

In September 2019, a single ember sparked the premature beginning of bushfire season and a catastrophic period of devastating fires that have been blazing ever since. The events that have unfolded in the last two months could well be the climactic development in a Hollywood film, but what is left in the wake of such obliteration is far from dramatised.

A prolonged drought which started in 2017 has made bushfire season this year more disparaging than ever. Without a doubt the impact of the current Australian Bushfire Crisis has been felt across the country, and it’s no secret that many communities are struggling.

australia fire crisis

Australia on fire

But through the destruction, loss, and grave misgivings, it’s an incredible sense of community that gives rise to perseverance, and it’s the tremendous force of the Australian music scene that may just help write the happy ending in this blockbuster saga.

Ian Smith, a road logistics professional whose company services the NSW Far South Coast, was caught in the fire chaos on New Year’s Eve. “I was down the [south] coast,” he begins, “Sussex Inlet, Milton, Bawley Point, Batemans Bay, Dalmeny, Narooma…,” he slowly marks off the list of affected communities he’s been to in recent weeks.

What is extraordinary, Smith agrees, is how the Australian music community has come together to show solidarity in the face of adverse circumstances.

Band Together gave a supporting event in Bega last month, with a Victorian episode to come, while countless Australian bands like The Amity Affliction, Hockey Dad, Dallas Crane, Megan Washington, Alex Lahey, and countless more have and will be performing to raise money for the cause.


The Amity Affliction

On a more communal level, singers from Sydney Children’s Choir came together to help raise money for an affected member, and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra will perform to raise money for the Australian Red Cross.

Furthermore, the biggest names in music will band together in at Sydney’s ANZ stadium next month for a concert entitled Fire Fight Australia – Queen, Alice Cooper, Icehouse, Conrad Sewell, Baker Boy, Amy Shark, Jessica Mauboy, and many more. The dedication, fervent passion, and solidarity of spirit, like the number of endeavours by artistic people, is simply overwhelming.

Tasmanian rock band Luca Brasi were one of the first to pull off a successful benefit concert, one they appropriately called ‘more than just thoughts and prayers’, with 100 per cent of ticket, drink, and merchandise sales going to the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal.

Though unaffected by fires except to witness a mass of smoke from the mainland, Luca Brasi performed an acoustic set in Hobart’s Room For A Pony, a 300-person capacity venue that saw queues form to gain access, on Friday January 10. This one, small, well-intended show raised $12,000. “It just seems so surreal,” says the band’s vocalist, Tyler Richardson. “Especially with Tassie not being so directly affected this time around.

“I said at the show, I felt like not that it wasn’t real, but social media makes the world so far away at times. At the beach I saw the smoke – that was the first time it felt real, and serious. That’s the thing that struck me as being a real tactile thing, when there’s smoke at the beach in Tasmania.”

Bands like Luca Brasi have had a startling domino effect on our industry and consequently the world, with the support and commitment of the international music community equally as flooring as at home. US Singer Pink pledged a donation of US$500,000, as did Keith Urban.

Elton John revealed in a now infamous motion at his recent Sydney show, his intention to donate $1 million dollars. Heavy metal monoliths Metallica pledged to donate $750,000, while singer Lizzo donated not only money but her time to Foodbank Victoria during her recent tour here.



“I asked a friend in the [United] States how the global media were reporting,” says Richardson. “The first thing he said was, ‘Even in America it’s being taken very seriously.’ It was nice to hear him say that.” The camaraderie presented by the scene has had an engulfing impact on the global music community at large and that has been incredibly important to not only Australia as a country, but as a society.

As of January 8, reported estimated donations and monies raised toward the Australian bushfire crisis was close to staggering half a billion dollars. “It’s incredible to think we can look after each other when it really has to happen,” Richardson says.

Chris Poland of Eclipse Records in New Jersey, US, muses on the reaction by the international music contingent. “Despite the tragic circumstances, it’s wonderful to see the music community tossing aside the genre-barriers and coming together to support a common cause.

“What I admire most is that all different walks of life have come together to support, all styles of music that don’t normally come together or cross paths at all. Who knows, maybe there’ll be some interesting collaborations after this?”

Ultimately, is seems music truly is a universal language, as well as the heart and soul of society, but quite why this phenomenon has occurred will likely be a point of debate for anthropologists for years to come. Smith says he has of course heard of the contributions from international musicians to the Australian relief efforts, but his reaction to such declarations are, like many residents in the south coast, pessimistic.

“It all depends on whether the money goes to them or not. No one seems to know where all the money’s that been collected is going.”

Both Richardson and Poland share a similar concern. “So often, we hear about misappropriation of funds,” says Poland. “It’s terrible that aid is provided and then wasted. I think waste is a terrible thing, so I hope that everything gets to those who need it most in Australia.”

“We didn’t know about the legal fight to get the money that’s been raised,” said Richardson of the debacle surrounding Australian actor Celeste Barber. “We need to figure out the right place for it to go.”

Indeed, with immeasurable relief performances being held, it’s to be expected there will be financial confusion. Nevertheless, when Smith is informed of Luca Brasi’s above mentioned efforts, he’s astounded. “That’s amazing,” he says. “The only thing I wish someone would have thought of is doing a free show in an area that was affected,” he adds.

“To raise funds on a state level is excellent. To raise spirits on a community level is extraordinary, and helps communities no end.”

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.

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