We’ve seen them strutting on stage singing, the crowd hanging on their every word. We’ve seen the guitars slung low creating sounds that make our emotions soar. We’ve seen them beat drums in tune with the beat of our hearts. We’ve seen the videos and heard the stories of wild parties that would make Charlie Sheen blush. This is the rockstar life, right?

Yet bands don’t magically appear on stage with a multi-platinum album and thousands of screaming fans. No, they work hard, long—sometimes well underpaid—hours for years to get there. Travelling long distances, not getting any sleep and car-pooling to go and play a show for the music.

I joined Adelaide band Favour The Brave on the road recently, travelling to Mildura to watch them perform with a couple of other hardworking bands: Adelaide up-and-comers Temple Of Athena and Mildura band Headstone Villains. The three supporting acts were on board for the launch of I, Icarus’ new EP All That’s Gone.

The show is the brainchild of local promoter and band manager Maddy Golitschenko, who wanted to create regular events in the town for local bands to showcase their talents, while also allowing bands from interstate to appear.

After an early start, we arrived at our venue, Setts, around lunchtime. Seamus from I, Icarus was already there, helping Paul from FTB set up the stage and sound system for the show at 8.00pm. Once the stage was set up, both bands got straight into a sound check.

We decided to take a quick break, and headed to the hotel for a Mexican feast. When we got back, Temple of Athena had arrived and was just finishing up sound check. Then it hit 8.00pm and they took to the stage but about two minutes into their opening song, the power went out. A very rushed-looking crew of fellow artists hurried to solve the problem, and then we were back. It was all very Spinal Tap. Temple Of Athena made a comeback of Lazarus proportions with a combination of groove-heavy riffs and a growl that made your inner-child scared.

Local heroes Headstone Villains arrived on stage next, resplendent in makeup that made you think a Norwegian black metal band had taken a wrong turn into a town loaded with sunshine. Despite my scepticism, they were actually quite good. Like, really good. A mixture of Motionless In White with Satyricion—the crowd loved them. A cover of Rob Zombie’s ‘SuperBeast’ finished the set and the lads left behind a huge roar.

FTB have been around in one form or another for the last 10 years or so and they’re quite well known in Adelaide circles. These veterans show the younger guys what it’s all about: rocking Mildura’s foundations with songs including ‘Drift,’ ‘Don’t Know, Don’t Care and ‘Gaga.’

That left the headliners themselves: I, Icarus. With a set list that started with intent to crush, then built tension with each passing song, until they exploded at the end of their set. The Adelaide metalcore band took full advantage of the headline position by playing virtually their entire catalogue including first single ‘Perplexity,’ as well as the song from their powerful video ‘End It All.’ This is a band that is working extremely hard to break out, with plenty of  shows coming up on the Adelaide circuit and interstate. The music was heavy, with riffs and grooves that belies their young age.

The show finished, and now everyone goes off and parties right? Not really. We had to pack up the stage that was set up 12 hours earlier. There was no time for post-show celebrations. We headed straight back to the hotel room to finally crash out, only to wake up a few hours later to travel on the long and (not so) winding road back to Adelaide.

Everyone made it work, but did they make any money? Probably not. Did they sell any CDs or merch? You would hope so. The reality is an Australian band trying to make it doesn’t get there overnight. It takes hard work, travelling, lack of sleep, practice, opportunity, sacrifice and making connections to get it to work. Once it works, you repeat it all over again to keep momentum.

The music industry is a tough climate at the moment, and it will only get tougher in this day of pre-programmed sounds and downloads. So do yourself a favour and check out all the bands you can. Help reward them by getting a CD or shirt. Let’s keep this music alive, not just in the major cities but in towns like Mildura too. Who knows, that singer you had a pint with after watching their band at a show could be the singer you’re watching on TV next year.

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Temple of Athena
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Photos: (Above) Sam Phillips and (below) Emily Pedersen