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The Eighty-Six Announces Full Program For Mighty Melbourne Debut

26 July 2023 | 12:10 am | Ellie Robinson

Three massive events – the Independent Music Exchange, Super Saturday and the 1800 Street Party – will lead the expansive itinerary.

The Eighty-Six

The Eighty-Six (Supplied)

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The team behind The Eighty-Six – a new music and arts festival taking over the streets of Melbourne (Naarm) this October – have officially unveiled the full program for the inaugural edition, running over eight days from Monday October 23 to Tuesday 31.

As hinted by its name, The Eighty-Six will be held across venues, theatres, record stores, bars, restaurants and bowls clubs that regularly present live music along the 86 tram route in Westgarth, Northcote, Thornbury and Preston. 

At the centre of the program is Super Saturday, an insane-sounding event where more than 200 acts will perform at venues along High Street over the span of 22 hours; it’ll kick off at 7am on Saturday October 28, with individual showcases right up until 5am the next morning. Shows will be curated by more than 40 programmers, with every single one of them free to attend. You’ll need to register for a digital pass to access all the shows, though – get ahead of the game and sign up now via this link.

Also taking place on that Saturday, as well as Sunday October 29, will be the Independent Music Exchange, a celebration of Melbourne’s booming community of independent record labels. The free two-day, all-age event is co-presented by Efficient Space and Butter Sessions, with more than 50 labels hosting market stalls, artist signings and other happenings across a suite of as-yet-unannounced venues. According to a press release, the event “will facilitate a social environment for Australia’s diverse independent labels to connect with fans and followers”.

One more enormous event will go down on the Saturday to end all Saturdays: the 1800 Street Party, a food, beverage and live music pop-up hosted by the team behind beloved Thornbury haunt 1800 Lasagne. Full details on the event are yet to be shared, but one element we know (and are extremely stoked) about is the 1800 HowlOween Dog Parade and Costume Contest, where local dog owners can “live out their competitive pet fantasies” in a fundraiser for Pets Of The Homeless.

The program was launched at a formal event held yesterday (July 25), where a cohort of Melbourne’s music scene ride-or-dies – including yours truly – heard directly from Woody McDonald (The Eighty-Six’s co-founder and artistic director), Kat Theophanous (the parliamentary member for Northcote) and councillor Julie Williams (the Mayor of Darebin City Council), as well as representatives of Creative Victoria (who are also involved in developing The Eighty-Six’s roster of events).

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In a statement, McDonald said of his and his team’s vision for the festival: “Melbourne is one of the world's great music cities. A hub of discovery and subculture, where art and entrepreneurial spirit are valued. It also produces a wild amount of music and is internationally considered a hotbed of musical greatness. I’ve always felt Melbourne needed a festival that stays within and elevates our grassroots environment. The Eighty-Six’s goal is to do this, and there’s currently no better area than High Street to be our festival precinct.”

The sentiment was shared by Theophanous, who said in her own statement: “High Street is the beating heart of the inner north and live music pumps through its veins. There's something truly magical about seeing a great band play live. It transcends barriers, unites hearts, and creates those timeless memories that linger in our souls. The Eighty-Six will embody the authenticity, revelry and artistry that make Northcote, Thornbury and Preston a precinct that undeniably captivates locals and visitors.”

Likewise, Williams affirmed that The Eighty-Six “showcases Darebin as the epicentre and ultimate destination for live music in Australia, and a diverse and inclusive city of artists and music lovers”. She added: “What better place to bring together music makers and music lovers alike in this whole-community celebration that has something for everyone to enjoy.”

The first events for The Eighty-Six were announced back in May, when shows confirmed for the itinerary included performances from Otoboke Beaver, Makaya McCraven, Los Bitchos, Connie Constance and Built To Spill, as well as a live taping of the podcast How Long Gone.

A second announcement came earlier this month, with new additions featuring shows from Unknown T, Ros Bandt and Ariel Kalma, Denis Bovell, and Theo Parrish, plus an in-conversation session with Bez (of Happy Mondays fame) and an event paying tribute to Graeme Thomas – renowned member of The Prestones and founder of both Preston Records and Preston Studios – by The Preston Records Revue.

You can see the full program for The Eighty-Six here