Soundlounge: Fifteen Years of Musical Magic

It’s true to say that doing something spectacularly well for one and a half decades is a significant achievement, particularly so in the often fickle world of live music venues. This memorable milestone is about to be reached by one of the Gold Coast’s most vibrant and much-loved live music establishments, Soundlounge, in Currumbin, who are celebrating their 15th anniversary on 23 February.

To put things into perspective, back in the early 2000s there were not many original live music establishments operating on the Gold Coast. With the demise of a swathe of long time venues such as The Playroom over the previous decade, a gaping chasm existed when it came to meeting the needs of live music devotees on the tourist strip, with many touring bands bypassing us altogether.

Enter local go-getters and original Soundlounge founders Anne Stovin, Rob Bare and Ben Treby, who came up with the Soundlounge concept one fateful night at a music event called Alley Katz, that the Currumbin RSL used to host. Back then the upstairs function room (home to the Soundlounge) was being used by another iconic Gold Coast cultural icon, the Swell Festival, to host their event in the early days of its existence.

The intrepid trio, together with a support cast brimming with enthusiasm and talent, got to work on setting up a new live music venue, which came to fruition in 2004 with the official birth of the Soundlounge. As the venue flourished, other key players in Brad Inglis, and more recently Caitlin Francis, have also come on board and played a big part in shaping its ongoing success. Mention must also be made of long time Soundlounge sound guy Peter Murtaugh and his team, whose diligence and professionalism have also played an integral part in ensuring the venue’s longevity.

“Lots of people have contributed to keeping the Soundlounge going,” Anne Stovin tells us, “and it is that community who I want to thank and celebrate 15 years with, not to mention the supporters who have turned up to the shows, without [whom] we wouldn’t still be going.

“In handing over to Caitlin now I look forward to seeing what the next 15 years bring.”

And then, of course, there’s the music, and over the past 15 years Soundlounge has played host to a plethora of eclectic and inspiring aural delights.

One of the venue’s most loved and regular acts across the journey have been local party-starters Tijuana Cartel, whose exotically infectious performances have never failed to deliver bulging crowds and sweaty dance floors and earned them the lofty title of ‘resident house band.’

Other regular and much-loved visitors over the years have included irrepressible acts of the calibre of: Passenger, CW Stoneking, Boy And Bear, Dan Sultan, Eric Bibb and the Paper Kites, Kate Miller-Heidke, Sarah Blasko, Lior, Tim Freedman, Angus and Julia Stone, Mia Dyson, Clare Bowditch and the Gold Coast’s own Karl S Williams.

At the funky-roots end of the spectrum, Afro Dizzi Act, Rhombus, Declan Kelly, Neighbourhood Groove Collective, Jez, Jackie Marshall, Ash Grunwald, Bobby Alu and Busby Marou have all contributed regularly to the venue’s rich musical tapestry.

Recently, Aussie songstresses Stella Donnelly and Alex The Astronaut delivered memorable sets. And on an international level, renowned performers such as Bob Brosman, Harry Manx, Loudon Wainwright III and Lloyd Cole have all passed through and dazzled.

While intimate, soul-nourishing performances have been regular hallmarks of the venue’s sonic template, Soundlounge has also been able to ‘bring the rock’ with the best of them. Some of this writer’s favourite Soundlounge moments have included spellbinding performances from original Saints guitarist-cum-solo-one-man-force Ed Kuepper (who has played the venue at least six times!), Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis with Magic Dirt frontwoman Adalita in tow and garage-psych monsters King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard, who left all and sundry in a bouncing state of rapture back in 2013.

Venue co-founder Anne Stovin recalls one of Soundlounge’s most insanely memorable nights, when boisterous Melbourne indie rock titans British India, playing their first ever show at the venue, created somewhat of a ruckus within the venue’s usually more sedate confines.

“It was the first time we’d had a band in the Club where people wanted to crowd surf, something new for our security staff who ended up perched at the front of the stage in the event that chaos broke out! The band was rocking the room and in response the crowd was going wild. We even ended up with a hole in the wall from all the frivolity!”

Following on from that memorable debut performance, British India have played the venue a number of times again in the years since.

And to celebrate the venue’s 15 year milestone, a special celebration is taking place on Saturday, 23 February, featuring a gaggle of talented new Brisbane and Gold Coast acts in the form of  pop-punkers Bugs, enchanting singer-songwriter Clea and indie buzz-band Sweater Curse, with Victorian solo loop artist Tones & I rounding out the killer bill.

The night is being officially supported by local legends Balter Brewing as well as our imitable selves, Blank GC. It’s sure to be a memorable evening, so be sure to get on down and celebrate a dazzling 15 years of good times and great music. In the words of Caitlin Francis; “Soundlounge brings quality music of all kinds to people of all musical persuasions, and we all benefit from that. Still today, we don’t know how much awesome music is actually out there!”

Here’s to the next 15 years – long live Soundlounge!

Catch you on 23 Feb. Visit soundlounge.com.au for all the deets.

IMAGE: Anne Stovin and Caitlin Francis (c) Leisen Standen | Lamp Photography

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