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UK band London Grammar
Photograph: SuppliedLondon Grammar

Sydney comes back to life with music fest Back the Night

London Grammar headline a jam-packed line-up that fields a dream team of Aussie stars too – here's the complete line-up

By Stephen A Russell for Time Out in association with American Express
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An eerie silence settled into Sydney’s coolest live music venues for way too long, with stars and their favourite stages struggling to keep afloat. Now the city has been brought back to vibrant life, and American Express is throwing its weight behind the return of Australian artists as the harbour city bounces to the beat of reverberating speaker stacks once more.

But one main stage isn’t big enough to contain Back the Night. Instead, multiple venues across the CBD will host a massive festival of local stars and one international headliner on Sunday, May 29. Funnelling the love (and money over the bar) back into the venues that matter most to music-loving Sydneysiders, all proceeds from ticket sales will be donated direct to music industry support charity Support ActGet stuck into our guide to the incredible Back the Night line-up.

Book tickets now.

Oxford Art Factory

London Grammar
Photograph: Supplied

London Grammar

When: Sun May 29, 7.30pm

In a huge coup for Back the Night, Nottingham’s finest electro-pop triumvirate will storm the Oxford Art Factory stage as the headline act at 7.30pm. After having to launch their latest album California Soil on YouTube, it’s going to be epic to hear Hannah Reid’s ethereal vocals, as backed by Dan Rothman on keyboards and Dot Major’s guitars, in the room for real.

The Colombian Hotel

Alex Lahey
Photography: Supplied

Alex Lahey

When: Sun May 29, 6pm

Oxford Street hero venue the Colombian Hotel will host out alt-rocker Alex Lahey of ‘I Love You Like a Brother’ fame in the garden at 6.30pm. Steadily taking over the planet since landing a mentorship with Josh Pyke, her pop-punk stylings even showed up on the soundtrack to Netflix’s animated hit The Mitchells vs the Machines. Awesome.

Bakers Eddy
Photography: Supplied

Bakers Eddy

When: Sun May 29, 5pm

Kiwi skaterboys-turned-punk rockers Bakers Eddy – aka vocalist Ciarann Babbington, drummer Jamie Gordon, guitar star Alex Spagnolo and his brother Ian on bass – set their sights on a musical life nice and early. Forming when they were all 12 years old, they later relocated to Melbourne. It paid off big time. They’re riding high off the back of brilliant debut album Love Boredom Bicycles. Catch them in the Colombian Hotel Garden.

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Taka Perry (DJ set)
Photograph: Supplied

Taka Perry (DJ set)

When: Sun May 29, 4.30pm

Canberra-raised, Australian-Japanese multi-instrumentalist Taka Perry took Triple J’s Like a Version by storm, playing both keys and guitar, alongside Gia Vorne, Emalia and A.Girl in a barnstorming rendition of Kanye West’s ‘Jesus Walks’. Don’t miss catching this fast-rising star (as both performer and producer) when he spins the decks at the Colombian Hotel at 4.30pm.

Jess Kent
Photography: Supplied

Jess Kent

When: Sun May 29, 4pm

An outstanding British import, Jess Kent learned to channel the blues jamming with her guitar-shredding dad. Relocating to Adelaide when she was 11, these days the ‘Get Down’ singer calls Sydney home, and is now working the sweet sounds of upbeat synthpop. The Colombian Hotel is bound to go off when she steps out.

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Maddy Jane
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Maddy Jane

When: Sun May 29, 3pm

Bruny Island’s finest indie-pop rocker, Maddy Jane, spoke for us all when the Taswegian dropped her hit single ‘It’s a Lot’ earlier this year. If your heart’s feeling a little bruised and battered after the last couple of years, her blissed-out pop-rock is the perfect antidote. Soak up her soaring sound at the Colombian Hotel.

The Delta Riggs (DJ set)
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The Delta Riggs (DJ set)

When: Sun May 29, 2pm

Springing forth from the Gold Coast scene, four-piece the Delta Rigs – Elliott Hammond, Michael Tramont, Alexander Markwell and Simon McConnell – are dubbed the nice guys of rock'n'roll. But no set from the ‘Talking in Your Sleep’ crew is ever snoozy. We’re sure they’ll bring upbeat energy to their Back the Night DJ set on the Colombian Hotel Rooftop.

Surly's American Tavern

South Summit
Photograph: Supplied

South Summit

When: Sun May 29, 6pm

Perth-based fantastic fivesome South Summit has been sealed off from the east coast for way too long, so it’s ridic exciting that they’ll finally light up Sydney when they take over the upstairs bandroom at American tavern-style hangout Surly’s. Zaya, Nemo, Fynn, Nath and Josh couldn’t put it better than in their latest single, ‘Tired of Waiting’, and are hanging to let loose their sun-infused reggae/roots/R&B sound.

 

Boy and Bear
Photograph: Supplied

Boy and Bear

When: Sun May 29, 5pm

There aren’t enough opportunities to hear a melodious mandolin in Australia, which is one of many reasons why we always dig a gig from hometown heroes Boy and Bear. The folk-rock quintet of Dave Hosking, Killian Gavin, Dave Symes and Tim and Jon Hart took an extended time-out for a while there, but we’re so glad they’re back to regale the Surly’s American Tavern crowd with brand new single ‘State of Flight’.

Hyde Park House

Odette
Photograph: Supplied

Odette

When: Sun May 29, 6pm

English-born, Sydney-raised star Odette is one of Australia’s most melodic singer-songwriters and will soothe your soul in the intimate surrounds of the lush Hyde Park House Club Lounge. Fusing folk sounds with the staccato snaps of hip hop, the ‘Dwell’ and ‘Feverbreak’ singer is a lo-fi legend who knows just how to whip up a crowd.

Maple Glider
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Maple Glider

When: Sun May 29, 5pm

Melbourne-based Tori Zietsch, aka Maple Glider, took a time out in Brighton – no, not the suburb in the Victorian capital, but rather the beachside escape due south of London on the other side of the world. She’s brought some of that sea air back with her and will rock you with the fresh air that is debut album To Enjoy Is the Only Thing when she plays the Hyde Park House Club Lounge.

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Bec Sandridge (DJ set)
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Bec Sandridge (DJ set)

When: Sun May 29, 4.30pm

Try and Save Me star Bec Sandridge is a spectacular force for good with an operatic tendency who grabbed the attention of Dua Lipa and Tom Waits at Triple J’s Yours and Owls Festival. She’ll be taking a break from blasting out her own theatrically themed queer punk-pop to work a sure-to-be high energy DJ set at Hyde Park House.

Stevie Jean
Photograph: Supplied

Stevie Jean

When: Sun May 29, 4pm

Earning her stripes gigging it with the likes of Tash Sultana and the Cat Empire before breaking out solo with big hit ‘Hell in Every Religion’, Stevie Jean may be based in Melbourne these days, but her punk rock-spitting spirit burns with the heat of her hometown, Darwin. You can mosh on to tracks like ‘Menace’ on the Hyde Park House Club Lounge as ‘The Dark’ sets in.

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Brendan Maclean
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Brendan Maclean

When: Sun May 29, 3pm

If you’re after a pure pop pick-me-up that glitters, make a beeline to the Hyde Park House Club Lounge to catch the brilliant buzz that is the fantabulous Brendan Maclean. A magnificent man who puts the wham-bam into glam, his banging tracks like ‘House of Air’ and the Stereogamus remix of ‘Stupid’ are custom made for wildly OTT singalongs. 

IMBI (DJ set)
Photograph: Supplied

IMBI (DJ set)

When: Sun May 29, 2pm

Spoken word performer, hip-hop proponent and record spinner IMBI’s influences are diverse enough to encompass a magnificent spectrum ranging from beat poet Alan Ginsberg to rap megastar Missy Elliot and then some. Their DJ set on the Hyde Park House rooftop is sure to be an eclectic wonderland of super-cool tunes.

Bill & Toni's

Didirri
Photograph: Supplied

Didirri

When: Sun May 29, 4pm

Growing up in Warrnambool, the melodic Didirri literally ran away with the circus to perform. He also inherited his gift for magnetic lyrics from his dad, kids’ music performer Barry Peters. You can lose yourself in the sometime Eurovision hopeful’s lullaby-like bliss when he smooths tracks like ‘Blind You’ upstairs at legendary Italian café Bill & Toni’s.

Cap Carter
Photograph: Supplied

Cap Carter

When: Sun May 29, 3pm

When Sinead O’Connor mic dropped on her cover of Prince song ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, it was pretty much assumed no one would try and step up to that defining moment. But Philippines-born, Western Sydney-based ‘Guns’ singer Cap Carter absolutely nailed it too. He’ll be bringing his empowering brand of R&B to Bill & Toni’s Upstairs. 

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