Following reports of new music festivals popping up across Australia’s metropolises, including a new urban music festival aptly titled Hype from the former boss of the stricken Supafest, and Tasmania’s MONA announcing its “darker sister” event DARK MOFO – which announces its lineup tomorrow; Melbourne is going decidedly local in a new festival approach.

On Tuesday night at The Corner Hotel, the City of Yarra, Music Victoria, and PBS FM collabortively announced the launch of the inaugural Leaps And Bounds Festival, confirming plans first announced in January that local music industry figures and venue heads were plotting a new cultural event.

Created in a similar vein to the street-and-laneway grassroots mentality of Melbourne’s St Kilda Fest, Leaps And Bounds will be claiming stakes northside,  distinguishing themselves from other music festivals through localised initiatives for community-based musicians as opposed to dealings with strictly popular national acts.

There is no lineup or bands announced with the festival’s launch, but instead a call for open applications from local acts, insinuating that local bands will form the live music base of the festival.

Named after the iconic Melbourne pub-rock anthem by local legend Paul Kelly, Leaps And Bounds will take place between July 5th -21st, across 50 “traditional” venues in the Yarra City Council as well as so-called “non-traditional” venues, such as aFreeza/Push event at Fitzroy Town Hall, and a silent gig in Gertrude Street, according to a press release from Music Victoria.

Created in a similar vein to the street-and-laneway grassroots mentality of Melbourne’s St Kilda Fest, Leaps And Bounds will be claiming stakes northside…

Ranging from well-established venues such as The Corner Hotel, “the largest venue in the area”, to The Empress, “the longest-serving”, Leaps And Bounds will emphasise locality. Each precinct in the Yarra City area will have a “focus day” throughout the festival. The spotlight being placed on Richmond on July 7, Johnston St on July 12, Abbotsford on July 13, the backstreets of Fitzroy and Collingwood on July 14, Brunswick St on July 17, Smith St on July 18 and North Fitzroy and Clifton Hill on July 20.

Keeping with its locality principle, Leaps And Bounds have forged two prominent partnerships relevant to the quintessential community encompassed in the Yarra.

The first being with indigenous groups within the Yarra area. A programmed outdoor BBQ will take place on Stanley Street  in an effort to, according to the Yarra Council, “promote Aboriginal cultural awareness and tolerance, and encourage better relationships amongst the Collingwood community.” This show of support will also extend to music with Leaps and Bounds putting a focus on Indigenous acts throughout the course of the festival.

The second important partnership forged involves the Gertude Street Projection Festival which opens on Friday the 19 July. As reported by Music Victoria, the two festivals will “be jointly programmed” in the closing weekend of Leaps and Bounds, to put a so-called “real spotlight on one of the most emerging precincts within Yarra.”

Side events which highlight the festival’s host institutions will include a live studio show, open day and outside broadcasts from PBS FM radio, and in an effort to recognise “the link between music and social justice”, an overall dedication to past Yarra City Council member Sally Isaacs and her memorial fund will be made, according to the Council.

Honouring the best of the community’s leaders, as well as tipping their hat to Yarra’s musical past, a tribute will also be made at revered establishment The Tote for local punk-garage legend Tim Hemmensly, bassist and singer for cult band The Powder Monkeys.

With an optimistic outlook towards the future for Melbourne music, Leaps and Bounds Music Festival is making an open call-out to all local acts, stipulating two guidelines which are steeped in the overriding principle of the festival.

According to the festival’s website, these guidelines for applying bands are:

  • That your event has a focus on the City Of Yarra – a link to the local community through the performers, performance or artists involved.
  • That your event is collaborative in format – something that is unusual from regular programming at participating venues within the City of Yarra

In light of this year’s live music dramas, with a number of venues continuing to close their doors, hopefully Leaps and Bounds and its approach to utilising local venues and community, will provide an invigorating addition to Melbourne’s music culture.

Leaps And Bounds Music Festival 2013

July 5th – 21st, 2013
Details for applications for venues, bands, events, and sponsors available at

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