AFL overlook local talent in favour of big names for grand final show

Edward ScownMidwest Times
Spacey Jane.
Camera IconSpacey Jane. Credit: WA Music Awards/WA Music Awards

The AFL have finally announced who will be playing the AFL grand final’s pre-game and half-time shows. While we’re glad some WA bands are getting the spotlight, we can’t help but feel a little disappointed for our local stars.

Spacey Jane is a bit special to us. Two Geraldton boys and their Perth-based companions have been setting the country alight in the past year. Their debut album, Sunlight, hit Number 2 on the ARIA album charts. Five songs made the 2020 Triple J Hottest 100.

With Booster Seat, they were robbed – right in front of me! – of top spot on the countdown. Australia owed the grand final to them, but once again, they’ve been snubbed.

It wouldn’t have been a risky option either. Sure they don’t have Birds of Tokyo’s big sales figures, but the Spacies have a huge following. About 400,000 more monthly listeners on Spotify, and nearly a million more than Eskimo Joe.

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To be fair, Birds of Tokyo do put on a good show live, the Geraldton Guardian has reported as much, but they had their turn in 2013. In the same year, Lanterns went triple platinum. Imagine the boost a smaller local artist could’ve been given.

The line-up announced late last week — Heavyweights Birds of Tokyo, John Butler, and Eskimo Joe, along with blues-rocker Abbe May, singer-songwriter Stella Donnelly, acclaimed Noongar duo Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse, and folk legends Donna Simpson and Vikki Thorn from the Waifs — is an eclectic representation of WA music.

Seething about The Great Spacey Snub of 2021 aside, this was a huge opportunity to pump up an amazing music scene to a national audience. With the show split between a menagerie of big names, there was plenty of room for some groups thriving here in WA, but that haven’t cracked the border yet.

Bands like Old Mervs, Death by Denim, Joan and the Giants to name a few. Give them a few songs each, guaranteed they’d have the stadium pumping, and the millions watching at home in the east would be straight onto their favourite streaming service.

Our music industry has suffered a lot over the past nearly two years, with gigs ripped out from under them every time Perth snaps into a lockdown. This could’ve been a well-earned reprieve. In taking the safe option, the only opportunity of its kind has been squandered.

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