Ever wanted to form a band but not been sure how to get started? First Timers might be just the thing for you. It’s a gig where every band that performs is playing their first ever set, and it’s taking place in Sydney this July 14. The only requirements for playing are being able to say ‘yes’ to at least two of the following
- One or more of us has never played in a band before.
- One or more of us is a person with a disability, a woman, a person of colour, an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, an LGBTQI+ or gender non-conforming person.
- One or more of us is playing an instrument they’ve never played before
The project was formed by musician and activist Bryony Beynon who initially started it back in 2013 when she was living in London. Beynon began First Timers as a way to force change on the issue of representation in bands, particularly in DIY communities which can be “heavy on talk and light on action,” she says.
“The motivation was to encourage a new generation of bands with a broader spectrum of members to get up and have a go, unpicking some of the unspoken pressure along the way. This pressure (unspoken as well as very much spoken) had held me back from actually forming a band for the first seven years of my participation in music. Now, ten years into making bands I still resent the time I was feeling like I wasn’t good enough! I don’t want to see anyone else remain on the sidelines for that long!”
Beynon points out that the project also “throws down the gauntlet for promoters who defend their pale/male/stale lineups with the excuse that diverse bands just don’t exist,” by bringing a new crop of diverse acts forward.
“There is a lot of power in seeing yourself – whether that’s your gender, ethnicity, ability or skill level – reflected on stage. I want people to get up there so they can be that person for somebody else!”
In the lead-up to the show there are a number of workshops happening, which are open to anyone, not just those have signed up to play. Workshops include introductions to drums, guitar, bass and synthesizers, as well as a crucial session on pedals, amps and PAs, and how to get the best sound when playing live.
Beynon says the workshops are about making a “peer-led space for learning by doing”. Each lasts two hours, is free/by donation and is led by a Sydney-based woman or non-binary musician. “There is no one right way to play, and whatever your vibe is, music making is for everyone,” says Beynon.
When asked what she hopes people will get out of the project, Beynon says “I hope participants get to feel the feeling of doing something they’ve been told they weren’t capable of. First Timers has happened three times in London now, bands like Big Joanie and Charmpit formed for it and have gone on quite a lot of success which has inspired others, and I’m certain First Timers Sydney is going to do the same.
First Timers takes place July 14 at Tempe Jets. Check out the Facebook event here to learn more about First Timers, learn about the workshops taking place and sign yourself up.