After the huge success of the first Tivoli In The Round sessions in 2018 as part of the Brisbane Festival, anticipation is high for the follow-up.

This year Tivoli In The Round expands to four acts: Paul Dempsey (September 17), No Mono  (Sept. 18), Emma Louise (Sept. 19) and Husky (Sept. 20).

They’ll play on a round stage in the centre of the iconic Brisbane music, theatre and arts events venue, and surrounded by a thousand-strong audience.

The Tivoli’s operator Dave Sleswick, who is presenting the shows in collaboration with Brisbane Festival explains, “The format has been designed to create a different music experience.

“There’s always audience separation at a normal rock show. So we have the opportunity to place the audience on a 360 degree as well as on the balcony looking down on the stage.

“So it creates a sense of focus and intimacy despite the size of the audience.”

According to Sleswick, what makes the In The Round format more unique and special “not only is the audience looking at the act but the audience is also looking at each other across the stage.”

“There’s an energy that goes towards each other rather than from each other,” he adds. “Peoples’ faces are looking at other faces for the whole show, and there’s something really warm and generous about that environment.”

Husky looks at possibilities

Husky plays Tivoli
Husky are set to take on the round stage on Sept. 20

Melbourne band Husky have never played such a format, but are eagerly anticipating its artistic possibilities.

“They’re the kind of shows that we put on anyway,” suggests leader Husky Gawenda.

“It’s about delivering the songs in such a way that lets the audience in. This set up will be a perfect way to do that.”

What Gawenda is really looking forward to at their In The Round show is that aside from giving the audience a different angle and closer connection, it will provide the band with a more natural way to perform.

“When we jam, or rehearse or write, we set up so we can look at each other, and react to each other, and feed off each others’ energy.

“So when you have the traditional way of all of us looking out from the stage, and not look at each other, it’s kinda unnatural.”

Husky’s show will be the first time they play songs from their newly recorded fourth album, which is yet to have a title or release date.

During the sessions over six months, they discovered the (darker) works of indie-folk New York band Big Thief, US singer-songwriters Bill Callahan and Andrew Bird, and Canadian troubadour Michael Rault.

Similarly, Emma Louise’s performance is the first time she’ll perform her Lilac Everything; A Project by Emma Louise.

Watch the music video for Emma Louise’s ‘Boy’


“It’s an absolutely stunning record,” Sleswick enthuses. “For the whole record, she manipulates her voice down to a male register. The songs are so beautiful.”

In addition, the series’ will mark the last ever show for No Mono, the temporary team-up between Tom Snowdon and Tom Iansek, and which delivered Islands Part 1 & 2.

Paul Dermott’s performance, a quick sell-out, is the first since the recording of the new Something For Kate album.

It’s a strong lineup, and stands up to Sleswick’s approach.

“I’m always looking for new and different ways to present things. It’s not just about the curating, it’s about how you craft the experience in the space.”

As someone who’s produced performing arts, festival, theatre, dance and music events, he’d been thinking about the In The Round format for six years.

Then Brisbane Festival gave him the opportunity.

“It was a big experiment, we didn’t really know how it was going to turn out,” he recalls about the first season.

“Most up in the air was how the sound was going to work and interact in the space.

“So one of the things that blew me away was the sound. It was brilliant, the room was completely filled with sound.”

Polish Club lifted the roof, Sarah Blasko held the crowd in the palm of her hands and Gareth Liddiard drew his fans into the songs in a stunning manner.

Watch the Polish Club’s music video for ‘We Don’t Care’


“What also exceeded my expectations was how the punters interacted with the space and with the artists,” says Sleswick.

“Surrounded by the audience, there was more banter with them. The energy in the room was so different, so welcoming, homely and warm, and the musicians love it,” he said.

“What we find is that they are gigging more than ever these days, and they’re really hungry for opportunities to do something out of the box.”

Tivoli In The Round

Tuesday, September 17th (Sold Out)
Paul Dempsey
(supported by Fraser A Gorman)

Wednesday, September 18th
No Mono
(supported by Anatole)
Tickets: Brisbane Festival

Thursday, September 19th
Emma Louise
(supported by Greta Stanley & Ryan Downey)
Tickets: Brisbane Festival

Friday, September 20th
(supported by Alice Skye)
Tickets: Brisbane Festival