WORDS BY ASH NAYLOR (@ashnaylorphoto)

Isolate with Isol-aid

With the current global pandemic of COVID-19 causing the country to slow to a halt in terms of live music and the arts industries, many musicians and workers have found themselves in a government imposed self-isolation as gigs are cancelled and venues closing their doors temporarily. $150 million in incomes lost has been reported already, and that number is bound to increase.

The economic toll, however, is almost pale in comparison to the vibrant music culture which has been snuffed out almost instantaneously- leaving a gaping hole in the hearts of gig-goers and artists across the country and globe. The psychological and emotional effects of these cancellations will be long lasting as the indefinite suspension continues.

It is a time for great upset and devastation in the arts community- but it’s been shown time and time again that out of the ashes something great will rise, and this has proven to be true with Isol-aid- a festival held out of bedrooms on Instagram Live.

Spanning over the course of Saturday and Sunday 22nd and 23rd March, the virtual festival involved 72 of Australia’s biggest talents right now in a fundraiser event for Support Act. Isol-aid was the brainchild of self-proclaimed ‘gigless artist’ Merpire, festival organiser Em Ulman, and Shannen Egan, and revolved around the idea that each artist played ‘live from bedrooms, lounge-rooms, studios or wherever they are self-isolating, artists will play a 20-minute set streamed live on their Instagram accounts, and then tag-team the next artist to play via split-screen, sending fans down a rabbit-hole of new music discovery”, as described in the Facebook event.

Bringing in the big guns like Angie McMahon, Stella Donnelly, and Julia Jacklin, the festival was an intimate show behind the scenes of these stars lives- with Stella dancing and singing along with her gorgeous pup. It was a deeply humanising and wholesome way for fans to appreciate musicians as purely talented people, without the limits and intimidation of a crowd shoving and tall stages.

The Instagram live format was- for lack of a better word- adorable. Fans acting like they were at a real concert- talking to each other in the comments, saying they were waving their flashlights, even making friends. Other artists jumped on the bandwagon and watched too, with Ball Park Music commending Rat!hammock on their impromptu “It’s Nice to Be Alive’ cover, rating it an 11/10. This kind of comradery is something the public often doesn’t get a glimpse into, so it was a really refreshing way to see everyone supporting each other. Similarly, the temporary aspect of the performance- being available for only 24 hours (as of yet) through a phone screen adds to the intimacy and specialness of the event.

While it certainly is a different vibe to live music performances, it is a huge step forward in displaying that online festivals and performances can be held and are still in high demand- which will no doubt be an interesting development as we remain cooped up inside.

So big ups to Isol-aid for giving it a red hot shot and smashing it out of the ball park, with a monumental weekend of online music.

Here is the link to all the artists involved! Fans are also encouraged to buy merch and music from artists Bandcamp pages, as the company is giving 100% of profits to support the artists over the weekend.

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