Two years after it launched to rave reviews, vinyl and live-music festival At First Sight returns to Carriageworks this year. The festival is a little older and a little wiser since its inception in 2013, but Sydney's music scene has changed, says festival curator, Marty Doyle.

“Since 2013 quite a few live-music venues have been shut down. So that’s really changing the landscape for local acts and affects how and when they can perform. So we’re putting a spotlight on developing artists who are now limited by a lack of medium-sized venues.”

The festival offers music lovers a grassroots experience. It also goes beyond live performances, with a free record fair supplied by independent record stores and labels for those searching for the next addition to their vinyl collection.

For the acts, Doyle, who is also host of FBi Radio show Dusty Fingers, has hand-picked a selection of emerging artists he thinks Sydney needs to see.

“There’s no science to it, it’s not about whether the artist has a lot of fans or is in the right stage of an album cycle. I’ve just selected bands I think are really good, bands that people should see,” says Doyle. “We look for acts that might get overlooked for the bigger festivals like Laneway and Splendour. It’s about providing a platform for them to perform to a bigger crowd, and celebrating the DIY music culture.”

Coincidentally, many of the acts do have releases in the works, so visitors will get a sneak peek at new material. The 2013 festival was a sell-out, with 5,000 people in attendance. This year there’ll be a second stage to accommodate a larger line-up.

“We’ve diversified the line-up and included a wider range of genres. We’ve definitely got some of the more interesting acts that are hitting the scene at the moment,” says Doyle.

Doyle’s picks from this year’s line-up include the Royal Sitars; a punk rock and garage cover band playing Royal Headache covers; Donny Benet Presents: The Music of Nile Rogers, featuring mystery all-star guests; and Nuns, a synth-punk band performing dark yet vibrant electro-pop. “I was a bit scared the first time I heard Nuns. They have a bit of danger to them. There aren’t many bands you can say that about,” says Doyle.

At First Sight is an all-ages event and is designed to feel like a community festival. Says Doyle, “When you get the recipe right, and it doesn’t feel exclusive, that’s how you know it’s a success. The hope is that people who may have heard of only a couple of these acts will come along and fall in love with their new favourite band they had no idea existed."

Archie Rose will be at At First Sight with a concept Artist Bar that will serve specially made gin cocktails during the festival.

At First Sight is on at Carriageworks in Redfern on Saturday November 14. The Record Fair is free and on from 10am–6pm. Bands will play from 12pm–11pm.

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