Live music is slowly creeping back. But Untitled Group – the crew behind Beyond the Valley, Ability Fest, Pitch Music & Arts and some of Melbourne’s most colossal warehouse parties – is giving it the drive-in treatment.
Introducing The Drive-In, a pop-up live-music precinct that will take over the grassy bowling lanes at Flemington Racecourse from July 10. It will host 12 large-scale socially distanced gigs – for up to 500 cars – where you can drive in, wind down your windows and move to the music (while comfortably seated).
When coronavirus came in like a wrecking ball, “it was crippling for the live-music sector,” says Filippo Palermo, one of Untitled Group’s directors. “We had a number of music festivals and tours that had to be postponed or cancelled – some for as many as 7000 people.”
Adapting to the government’s “constantly changing goalpost of restrictions”, the group hosted two free live-streamed day parties (one at bizarre locations around Australia), while nutting out how to make live music work in the coronavirus era.
One idea Palermo and the team saw working overseas was drive-in gigs. “But some were just promoters bringing in a small truck stage, so we’re going all-out on [production quality],” he says.
The Drive-In’s stage will be 15 metres wide and 12 metres high, with three mammoth screens “so you don’t miss a beat”. And punters will be allocated a parking space based on their car size to ensure optimum viewing – small cars up front, big cars out back.
The site, which can comfortably hold up to 500 cars, will be entirely accessible. And your car is where you’ll stay unless you’re going to the bathroom. To maintain social distancing, there’ll be contactless ticketing and temperature checks at the gate. Plus, you’ll be able pre-order food and drinks for delivery to your car.
Each gig will feature a headliner and two support acts that will run for around four hours. The first month’s line-up will be announced tomorrow, with an extended program of films and comedy to follow.
“This is a safe, temporary, government-compliant solution [for the] live-music [industry],” says Palermo, adding that 200 people will be employed at each gig. “And we’ll keep going until restrictions ease to the point that we’re running music festivals again.”
The Drive-In opens on July 10.