Reflections on UnConvention Brisbane 2010

UnConvention Brisbane 2010 happened 12-13 June at The Edge in South Bank. It was a grassroots music conference aimed at fostering a dialogue between like-minded members of Brisbane’s independent music scene. I co-organised the event alongside Dave Carter, Maggie Collins and Brett Wood. To read about how it all came together, read this blog post written a week beforehand.

I also moderated the music & media panel. You can view some highlights here, or embedded below:

From left to right (click their names for more info):

Myself, Michelle Brown (4ZzZ radio), Christopher Harms (Rave Magazine), Graham Ashton (Footstomp Music), Matt Rabbidge (LickIt Media), Steve Bell (Time Off), Crystle Fleper (FasterLouder QLD), Paul Curtis (Valve Records / Consume Management) and Matt Hickey ( / The Vine). Chris Johnson (AMRAP) and Sophie Benjamin ( had to pull out at the last minute for personal reasons.

To listen to the full music & media panel conversation, click here to use the embedded audio player on the UnConvention Brisbane website.

UnConvention Brisbane 2010 posterIn whole, UnConvention Brisbane 2010 was a winner. I’m thrilled that 120 (or so) members of the city’s independent music scene were willing to spend their weekend – or at least, part of it – listening to and engaging with fellow venue operators, band managers, musicians, business owners and label representatives. For mine, this was the highlight: bringing people together, and putting them in a low pressure social space where they felt comfortable interacting with one another.

While it wasn’t a perfect event – the free showcase attracted a smaller audience than the paid panel discussions, which was disappointing – I feel it was a great start to what we intend to shape into an annual event.

I’m told that the first year’s always the hardest; having never been involved with a project of this scale, I’ll have to take my friends’ word for it. Our ‘next year’ list of learnings and recommendations is huge, though, and we’re confident that UnConvention Brisbane 2011 will surpass what we achieved this time around.

Thanks to all involved – you know who you are. If you met me on the weekend and want to a continue a conversation, contact me via the link at the top of the page. If you want to be involved with next year’s UnConvention Brisbane in any capacity, please visit the website and click ‘contact us’. Any and all feedback and support is welcomed. Thank you for giving a shit about independent music, Brisbane.

There are plenty of video clips taken during the weekend at the UnConvention Brisbane website, which can be found here.

To conclude, I’ll leave the summarising to a bunch of bloggers who took the time to record their feelings on the event.

UnConvention Brisbane by the Bloggers

Here’s some of the cherry-picked highlights. If you’d like to add to the conversation jump on Facebook or Twitter and let us know your feedback – we’d love to hear it.

The Good

“I had suspicions at first that it would be simply a congratulatory circle jerk but I was wrong. Having a panel discussion allowed for an array of often divergent views to focus attention on what may be good and what may be not so good about the local music scenic. Furthermore, I also got to say ‘hey’ to some fellow bloggers, including Bianca from Music For the Laundromat and Jodi from Plus One. It’s always great to put faces to names. Congratulations to Andrew McMillen and Dave Carter for organising what was a great and badly needed conference that I hope returns next year” –  Darragh, Parallel Lines for a Slow Decline

“Unconvention was fantastic. I’ve been involved in several “creative” conventions, and find that they’re not usually worth the hundreds of dollars per ticket, so at $20 including a sausage sizzle, Unconvention was the best value convention I’ve ever encountered. It was filled with smart, creative, fun, talented people, who were all super approachable, and keen to share and network” – Jaymis, Oxygen Kiosk (and UnConvention Tech Nerd)

“The weekend was an invaluable experience for me. It was enlightening to hear people’s views on the ever changing music scene in Brisbane, and it certainly gave me a more positive perspective on it. If you didn’t get to make it this year, I would highly recommend it for next year” – Bianca, Music for the Laundromat

“Undesirable questions received a Capella singing in response. Fifteen or so minutes were dedicated to stories about hair and rock stars. Tom Hall advised aspiring promoters that you could get up ‘100 posters in an hour at a good run’. Everyone ranted about the state of music in Brisbane and nobody agreed. I don’t know what happened but hell, it was good fun.” – Jodi, plusonebrisbane describing the Music as Culture panel.

“I went and really enjoyed the whole thing. I learned a lot about how this music industry operates. … I can’t believe the whole thing cost $20. If they have one of these things in your local area you really should go.” – Brendan, Turn It Up to 10

“I have learnt a lot, but it has also affirmed my belief in punk rock, and its ability to work outside of any conventional music industry” – Matt, Papercuts Collective

“If their intention was to inspire, I would say, “mission accomplished.” It really was quite an experience to realise that these people who are ingrained in the industry, and who are doing great things for independent artists, had an idea and followed through with that idea, making mistakes, grasping opportunities and making contacts along the way” – Shayne, Cowbell Music (and UnConvention panelist)

The Not So Good

“I can’t speak for whether Unconvention was indeed unconventional in its otherwise pristine imitation of a Music Business Convention. Somehow I suspect not. But, um, good on them for bringing attendance prices down or something” – Everett True (UnConvention Panellist)

The Plain Weird

“Five weird things that happened to me on the weekend:

  1. I went to the Down Under Bar. Worse still, I dimly remember being pretty excited about it.
  2. Unconvention Brisbane took place for the first time. I chaired a panel on Music As Culture and during which Andrew Stafford, the author of Pig City: The Saints To Savage Garden, broke into song. Fellow panelist Everett True had decided that if we were asked a question we didn’t wish to answer, we had to sing. What did I ask Andrew? Oh just something light and breezy: ‘So what was the worst thing that happened to you because you wrote Pig City?’ (I made Everett sing as well).
  3. I walked around Highgate Hill at 3am with a cocktail.
  4. A taxi driver told me that we should just shoot people who wish to immigrate to our country. ‘Just shoot them, it doesn’t cost a lot to shoot people.’ And I tipped him. This morning I couldn’t remember why. Then I did. I tipped him because I was scared he was going to kill me and dump my severed body parts in the river.
  5. Walking up Merthyr Road last night, not 15 minutes after Ted Bundy the taxi-driver, a car pulled up next to me as I walked along. The driver said ‘You want a lift.’ I told the driver I lived closeby so it was cool. I was eating a packet of crisps. Then the driver said ‘Do you want me to suck your cock?’ and I said ‘Nah man, I’m good’ and he drove off”

– Ian, Ambrose Chapel (and UnConvention ‘music as culture’ panel curator)

Comments? Below.
  1. Bianca says:

    Thank for the shout out! It was a really great weekend, and I think the turn out was fantastic considering it was only the first year. I’m interested to see who will be speaking next year…this year was a pretty top line up.

  2. Darragh says:

    I love Ian’s summary the most

    I’m not sure Everett’s was ‘bad’, just more cautious.

  3. mchaela says:

    There is a disproportionate(sp?) amount of Ted Bundy taxi drivers in Brisbane. I think everyone I know has had at least TBTD experience.


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