Take Me To Church! Why Is Hillsong Getting A Free Pass While Live Music Is Getting Absolutely Shit On?
Alexa, play 'Take Me To Church' by Hozier.
Music 2w

Words by Amar Gera / Image via jeanprofugo-santos.com //

We talk to the artists, organisers and industry figures who’ve been hit hard…

At this point I’d be insane to not include a little disclaimer. I’m just another agnostic, 20-something who has no problem with people celebrating their faith. Hell, if that’s what brings them joy and euphoria, I’m all for it! But what Sco Mo, Domicron and pretty much everyone else in the Liberal government fail to understand is that festivals, events and live music itself gives that very same sense of connection and joy to their attendees. So why shouldn’t they be afforded the same protection as the many Hillsong gatherings that are still going ahead? *cough* regardless of Sco Mo and Domicron’s well-documented ties to Hillsong *cough*

I mean, is COVID impossible to transmit in an uncomfortably packed church full of people SINGING and DANCING? Does the Lord strike down furious anger upon COVID and those other viruses who attempt to poison his brothers? (if you got that reference, bravo). If that’s the case, why don’t we move all live music events to places of worship and call it a day? Who needs a booster shot when you’ve got a Bible and some Holy Water? But alas, this is the logic the entertainment/event industry has been dealing with for the last two years, and you can understand why they’re well and truly burnt out after all of it.

“I am honestly not sure how much our industry can stand any longer. It feels like a real life Footloose. The fact that they specifically say “singing and dancing” might as well write “No having fun in venues but oh you like cricket? Go for it.” Biggest double standard in the history of double standards. We’ve all been suffering big time for the last 2 years, there’s only so much we can be hopeful for until another reschedule or another cancellation happens, WE NEED HELP!” – Squeef, DJ

Double standards are nothing new at the state level. Hell, Sydney lost it’s nightlife because of them in the 2010s. But we recovered, persevered and pushed through.

“I think we should form a central hub and move against ideas from the government we reject, instead of this useless “outrage” we throw around. Someone stand up and be the centrepiece for a movement – or are you all that scared of being cancelled? That being said, our hospitals are a little full at the moment. I think how the government acts to simmer things down is stupid but the intent this time is for the right reason. Come end of January if we aren’t trying to go on with life in a normal fashion my sentiment will be very different” – Jimmy, Flight Facilities

Again, hospitals are struggling, and you’re not gonna find anyone in the industry that says otherwise. And I’d be remiss to admit that I’m just another person ranting on the internet right now, one of thousands no doubt who are tired of being beaten down by the state government’s logic. But we’ve been sold this sentiment of “Learning to live with this virus” for god knows how long now, yet for all intents and purposes, it feels like we’re right back in 2021, a year I don’t think any of us ever want to revisit.


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DZ Deathrays and Jungle Giants aren’t the only bands/artists to be vocal about this online, and judging by the overwhelming amount of Instagram stories and posts on the topic right now, they won’t be the last. Not until the government answers us when we ask “What’s it going to take for the music/event industries to no longer be the first to fall every time there’s a new wave of restrictions?”


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Like seriously, what if each festival/event committed to AT LEAST one subpar Christian band on their lineup, THEN would they be free from persecution the next time cases explode? These are the sorts of questions that the state government don’t want us to ask, yet, plenty of people in the industry are asking, and their voices are becoming deafening.

So, we figured we’d reach out to a couple more of those voices, and we’ve included them below for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy, take note, and if you’re somehow not convinced that this situation is absolutely cooked after listening to their stories, well, we hope whatever Hillsong rave you Jenny, and Dom are currently at is going off as you’re reading this, Scott.

“A promoter I played for told me he had to pay an extra $250k three weeks before show day, just to adhere to regulation changes & keep our show alive.  This industry doesn’t have the profit margins to survive that kind of bs, let alone 2yrs straight of it… & allowing events on a ‘case by case basis’ is just code for picking favourites & justifying rug pulling at the 11th hour. We all got vaxxed, wear masks, put in an onslaught of costly COVID safe changes… All we want in return is an actual ‘fair go’ Scotty’s always on about.” – What So Not, DJ/producer

“It’s not that anyone in our industry wants to push ahead recklessly and throw events without considering the effects on our health system and community… it’s that we want everyone to be treated equally and for the favoritism and blatant targeting to stop. We want our state and federal governments to show some proactive leadership and set up adequate systems to support the strategies and roadmaps they’ve been selling to us.” – Jordan Munns, music photographer. 

“Ahh man. It’s just really disheartening to see so many friends put so much effort into event planning and reviving the music scene in so-called Australia, only for everything to fall through at the eleventh hour. I am strongly in favour of implementing measures which protect our more vulnerable populations, but there needs to be thorough industry consultation each step of the way. My heart also really goes out to my immunocompromised friends in the industry & those who can’t afford to risk working right now. I think it’s really disappointing that the onus has been put solely on creatives to decide whether to risk exposure or not, and I’m hoping that more measures are implemented ASAP which provide crucial support to the arts (a literal billion dollar industry in this country).” – Latifa Tee, DJ/Artist

“Churches being exempt from dancing and mass gatherings is so obviously dodgy, it comes only second to The Star and Barangaroo being exempt from lockouts back in the day. The NSW Government isn’t even trying to hide how dodgy they are in 2022.” – Patrick Stevenson, music photographer.

“Grapevine Gathering NSW has had an approved COVIDsafe plan for months and we have been in constant communication with the NSW Government regarding all required safety measures.  The recent public health order announcement still allowed for planned major events to proceed and the advice given up until this point was that our event was still compliant. This is a devastating blow not only to the live music industry, but also to regional tourism. A projected loss of over $5.2 million to the greater Hunter Valley region is expected from this cancellation. Over 1400 jobs are now lost across our artists, food vendors, security, production crew, ticketing staff and more who were deep in preparation for the weekend.” – Grapevine Gathering

“There has consistently been double standards in regards to live gigs throughout COVID, whether it be sport or now in this case religious gatherings. And there is no unsavoury taste in our mouths on whatever expression of meaning or joy people choose to participate in. But it is a difficult pill to swallow when one of the most culturally prominent sects of religion in Australia is pentecostalism, (church’s alike to Hillsong), which function similarly to a rock show, and yet rock shows existing outside of that context are quashed by these particular policies, it doesn’t exemplify an equally treated Australia. As much as this is a cliche, music is our religion, and it is the thing that we love to do, and our industry has been taking a beating, which I suppose reveals the priorities of our government. It is not in debate anymore whether our government has created policies to suppress artistic culture within our beautiful country, it is a fact, and a society that actively suppresses that culture is not one I want to be apart of.” – Eagle Eye Jones, Sydney band


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Words by Amar Gera January 12, 2022
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