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New major festival to bring live music back to Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building

New major festival to bring live music back to Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building
June 2, 2023

Melbourne’s new major festival 'Now or Never' will deliver the first large-scale live music performance in the historic Royal Exhibition Building in more than two decades.

The Royal Exhibition Building has been unveiled as one of the festival’s major venues and will play host to a cutting-edge line-up of local artists and international headliners during the inaugural 17-day event.

The festival will transform Melbourne with immersive experiences of art, ideas, music and technology in August and September.

Melbourne City Activation portfolio lead Councillor Roshena Campbell shares “Now or Never will explore the intersection of art, ideas, sound and technology – and we’re so excited to announce the Royal Exhibition Building as one of our major event hosts.”

“Set to attract more than 200,000 visitors to the city, this inaugural festival will add to our vibrant creative scene and invite even more visitors to explore the best of what our wonderful city has to offer.”

Highlights from the Now or Never music program under the building’s spectacular cathedral ceilings include:

  • An Australian exclusive by American singer, songwriter and producer Kelela, supported by genre-bending avant/R&B musician, serpentwithfeet   
  • A club night like never before, co-hosted by Untitled Group – headlined by a live set from German house and techno producer Âme, as well as performances by internationally renowned Axel Boman, Melbourne native CC:Disco!, rising star Ayebatonye, and Brisbane mainstay and Yuggera woman, dameeeela   
  • A sensory experience by English electronic duo Autechre, who will headline a night of live electronic music in complete darkness – enhanced with a psychedelic 3D audio-visual experience by British artist Max Cooper     
  • A hypnotising electronic show from Bristol duo Giant Swan and a thumping live set by UK based artist Actress   
  • Orchestra Victoria’s take on US composer Steve Reich’s iconic Music for 18 Musicians, accompanied by a 16-metre-high commissioned video work by multimedia artist Jesse Woolston

The Royal Exhibition Building will also play host to Never Permanent, presented by the internationally acclaimed design festival, Semi Permanent. The to-be-announced line-up will be stacked with thought-provoking keynote speakers and panel sessions featuring leading creative visionaries.

Semi Permanent Founder, Murray Bell adds “Never Permanent brings together the best creatives and innovators from around the globe, and we can't wait to offer our platform to these world-renowned names in the industry."

“This line-up for Never Permanent is shaping up to be one of our best yet, and we’re thrilled for this to be a part of Now or Never." 

Now or Never will also feature immersive art installations at venues and locations across Melbourne – including the city, Docklands and Carlton - between Thursday 17th August and Saturday 2nd September.

For more information on the first program announcement, or to buy tickets, visit Now or Never.

Now or Never’s full program will be revealed in late June.

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