Updated: Sep 8, 2021
As part of our lockdown series spotlighting gig organisers and events, we spoke to Ryan Collings, electronic artist and founder of Almost Fridays, which is special for bringing live art, music and remixes together during its shows. Unfortunately the conversation came with the news that Almost Fridays’ venue, They’re There has closed. Read on to see how the ongoing pandemic has affected the live music scene, as well as learning about some amazing members of the community.
A watering hole for your urban tribe
It’s one (fantastic) thing to hold a live show - it’s another thing to have live music, live art, and live, on-the-spot remixes of the live sets all together. This is the community centred extravaganza of live performance that Almost Fridays brings us. Kick-started with a grant by Create NSW, the gig series began in January 2021 and the team intends to keep going post-lockdown.
I was privileged enough to be invited to perform at the last Almost Fridays session before the current lockdown. The moment I arrived that night, the vibrant floor to ceiling wall art and the bright, happy lighting made me warm to the venue immediately - They’re There was as communal as you can get, with ample floor space for gatherings and the groovy small businesses that came together to give the venue a tribe-like vibe
This was exactly the type of space Almost Friday founder Ryan Collings was looking for.
“I don’t think there’s a better place to do Almost Fridays. The fact [They’re There] is already a community in itself - you have a café owner, a record store owner, a barber - they embody the spirit of bringing different worlds together.”
Almost Fridays brings different forms of art together in a similar way. As I performed alongside some great musicians, visual artist Alex Anastas, standing near the stage, was busy painting a depiction of the night based on the artists’ lyrics.
Visual artist Alex Anastas painting live at an Almost Fridays gig night | Video by Yasmin Hingun.
Meanwhile, artist Dave Truong, aka kwazemodo sat behind the decks, taking live samples of the live musicians and doing on-the-spot remixes.
“I asked quite a few artists to do live remixes and even though they were talented, a lot of them said, ‘that sounds awesome, but to do it live...no way’,” recounts Ryan. “But Dave said, ‘yeah, I’ll do it’.”
Kwazemodo remixing Dench Hanks’ set at an Almost Fridays gig night | Video by Yasmin Hingun.
Both Alex and Dave finished their work that same night, which brought a wonderful sense of suspense to the night that I found makes Almost Fridays really special.
“Our target audience is anyone who wants a place to belong whether you feel you don’t have that, or whether you already have a great community,” says Ryan. “And it’s not just about the performers - there was once a guy in the audience who offered to do live poetry based on the acts. Tell us how you want to get involved because we’re building this together.”
Goodbye for now to They’re There
Almost Fridays’ venue They’re There - owned by events guru Onur Ka (he's one of the organisers that’s been helping run the Burning Man Australia community for over ten years) - opened late last year and came together as a group of small business owners: from a coffee shop to a record store, a consciously sourced clothing store to a barber, as well as floor space for events. But for now, this vibrant communal space has come to a close.
“I feel sad beyond belief,” says Onur, “However there is no logic to try to keep it open when we haven’t been able to do events [for] over 3 months and don't even know what the future is. But this is not the end of They’re There.”
They’re There closed in late August but maybe it’s not goodbye forever - according to venue’s instagram page, “we are done...when NSW government [sic] makes it clearer, we will have a 2.0 #theyretheresydney”.
Starting in early August, They’re There launched a funding drive, selling quirky themed shirts and branded socks to keep their embattled business going and to garner support for their return.
“Every single dollar will be spent on saving and storing all our stage, furniture and kitchen gear for the foreseeable future, until we can find a new place that will suit us - and when we know events can actually start,” Onur adds.
Support They’re There by checking out their funding drive.
Next week we’ll be speaking to Ryan (a different Ryan!) who was devastated that his gig series was postponed just days before the inaugural show - but he’s quickly pivoted to weekly livestreams featuring different artists, under the banner Western Sydney Mixtape.
To hear interviews with Sydney artists follow our podcast - JAMs: A Taste of Sydney’s Music Scene.
Want to discover some more Sydney music? Follow our Spotify playlist - JAMs Jams’
If there are any topics you would like us to cover, if you have any feedback or you have a great idea to help the Sydney music scene thrive - shoot us a message over socials or email us!