The past year may have kept most opportunities for live music largely dormant and confined to streaming performances consumed at home. But large-scale gig-going relief is beginning to stir in Australian cities thanks to the use of Covid-safe outdoor amphitheatres.
Sunset Piazza is part of the Summer in the City program funded by the NSW Government and City of Sydney. Curated by Sydney Festival, Sunset Piazza’s eight-week run launched in late January and has already hosted the likes of Alex the Astronaut, Kwame, Allday and Sneaky Sound System. Tickets to every event are an accessible $25 (though it means that shows sell out quick.)
The line-up is mostly local and upcoming highlights include Kate Miller-Heidke, G Flip, Ruby Fields, All Our Exes Live In Texas, and Ben Lee, as well as comedy and cabaret. In keeping with the venue’s Italian theme, there are also leisurely snacks and aperitivos on offer before the show. You could even make a night of it and grab a drink in the city after the gig.
Here are our top picks for the weeks ahead.
Community Concert (Thurs March 4)
Revel in talent directly from the community at this lively showcase of street dancers, choirs, box drummers, and much more, often with an international flair. Highlights include Spanish-language ensemble My Sauce Good, flamboyant sibling duo The Hamiltons and singer/storyteller Benito Di Fonzo. You can even learn about the Hawaiian tradition of hula: not just a dance but a way to share communal tales.
Comedy Gala (Fri February 26)
Wil Anderson leads Sunset Piazza’s third stacked line-up of comedians. Beyond the affable Gruen Project host, expect rapid-fire laughs and a diverse range of approaches, extending from Rwandan-born Oliver Twist’s fresh perspective on Australian life to Danielle Walker’s twisted wit. Sam Taunton (The Project, triple j), Alex Jae (co-host of The Ladies Guide to Dude Cinema podcast), and writer/director Justin Hamilton round out the bill, bringing the spontaneous, communal spirit of live comedy back to Sydney.
Eddie Perfect: Introspective (Sun March 21)
Fresh off ambitious overseas undertakings like the Broadway hits King Kong and Beetlejuice, Australian icon Eddie Perfect turns the focus back on himself with his intimate (and aptly titled) new musical Introspective. From behind the piano, with accompaniment from cello and violin, Perfect revisits his recent creative life at length, spanning stories and songs from New York and Melbourne. Expect him to lay bare both the challenges and triumphs of penning hit musicals in the world’s most competitive city.
Ziggy Ramo (Thurs March 11)
Raised in Arnhem Land, young Sydney rapper Ziggy Ramo released a modern classic of Australian hip-hop with last year’s Black Thoughts. As confronting as it is impassioned and articulate, the fiery debut album tackles our country’s troubling relationship with blackface, Invasion Day, imperialism, ANZAC Day and more. Ramo expanded his audience with a career-making livestream from the Opera House, highlighting his tireless delivery and dynamic presence in front of a versatile full band. Don’t miss this star on the ascent.
Winston Surfshirt (Sat March 13)
Buttery funk/soul ensemble Winston Surfshirt are best known for their platinum-selling ballad Be About You, but they’ve also conquered Splendour and supported Midnight Oil – all with only two albums to their name. Between their sumptuous falsetto and bright swathes of horns, the Northern Beaches all-stars live set should be equal parts party and love-in.
Josh Pyke (Thurs March 18)
Veteran songwriter Josh Pyke has always balanced breezy sweetness and profound depth, while still taking fruitful detours involving Beatles tributes, children’s books and covert punk projects. He’s also gone well out of his way to support younger artists through tireless fundraising and activism. Last year’s Rome was Pyke’s first album in five years, steeped in the usual dreamy atmosphere while radiating sensitivity. Get set for a natural procession of singalongs.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Destination NSW and City of Sydney. For more city centre inspiration, visit whatson.sydney/rediscover, and for further Sydney CBD inspiration visit https://www.sydney.com.