The Eighty-Six Festival 2023

Mon 23rd October, 2023 – Tue 31st October, 2023
Venues all along High Street Northcote in Thornbury, and Plenty Road in Preston and Reservoir
Price: See individual event pages
Venues along High Street and Plenty Road are lighting up with bands and DJs, a record label expo, a dog parade and more. Among the highlights: a free 22-hour program across 40 venues, and a street party by 1800 Lasagne.

Venues up and down High Street – from Westgarth to Preston – will celebrate Melbourne’s prolific music scene as part of a new festival debuting in 2023.

The festival’s marquee event is the sold-out Super Saturday, featuring 200 live music acts and DJs in 40 venues along the strip, from bars, clubs and restaurants to record stores, bowls clubs and bocce courts. The 22-hour free program will kick off at 7am on Saturday October 28 and run through to sunrise the following day – so you might start the day at a cafe listening to some folk music, then meet friends at the pub for lunch and a post-punk set, before ending the night at a club, dancing until dawn.

Forty local selectors, artists, and special international and interstate guests are curating the parties. They include 3RRR, Skylab, Love Police, Mistletone, Anti Fade, 1800 Lasagne, plus a collaboration between Hope St Radio and All Are Welcome. Venues include Capers, Shotkickers, Thornbury Bowls Club, Moon Dog World, Gertrude Contemporary, Nasty’s, Low Key, Thornbury Picture House, Northcote Social Club and a bunch more. The line-up and schedule will be announced closer to the event.

The 1800 Lasagne crew is also hosting the 1800 Street Party on the same day, a dog-friendly food, drink and music festival. Mark the 1800 Howloween Dog Parade and Costume Contest in your diary now – there’ll be pup-cakes and pup-uccinos available, and all proceeds will go to Pets of the Homeless. “Be ready,” 1800 co-owner Joey Kellock tells Broadsheet. “There’ll be some very cute and very scary dogs.”

As for the food, Kellock says to expect Armenian snacks by chef Tom Sarafian, a Georgian lunch by wine bar Gray & Gray, and Italian classics by the 1800 Lasagne team. Plus, a “very special coffee frappe” by the Capers crew, and more to be announced. There’ll also be performances by a tarantella band. “It’ll go from morning till night, and you can expect incredible smells, sounds, sights, and a celebration of all that is the 86 tram line and the inner north,” adds Kellock.

The festival also includes range of satellite events, including gigs by Detroit DJ Theo Parrish, Kyoto punk band Otoboke Beaver, genre-crossing rising British star Connie Constance, and London’s “psychedelic surf-disco safari combo” Los Bitchos. There’ll also be a two-day independent music exchange – by Efficient Space and Butter Sessions – where you’ll be able to meet the minds behind iconic imprints and purchase exclusive and rare vinyl, cassettes, merch, zines, and other specialty items. Labels in attendance will include Anti Fade, Bedroom Suck, Chapter Music, Dot Dash, Music in Exile, Our Golden Friend, Remote Control and Wax’o Paradiso.

“Melbourne is one of the world’s great music cities,” The Eighty-Six co-founder and artistic director Woody McDonald said in a press release. “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.”

His fellow co-founder, Johanna Greenway, has worked on major festivals across Australia for the past 20 years.