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Pub rock (Australia)
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Pub rock (Australia)

Pub rock is a style of Australian rock and roll popular throughout the 1970s and 1980s and still influencing contemporary Australian music today. The term came from the venues at which most of these bands originally played at: inner-suburban pubs (short for the British term public house which is rarely used in Australia in its full form). These often noisy, hot, and crowded establishments were largely frequented by men and women in their 20s, mainly of Anglo-Celtic origin rather than members of Australia's swelling immigrant communities.

It could be argued that the very venues many of the bands played in (pubs), had a major influence on the evolution of their music and sound. The venues were more often than not small and the crowds - often alcohol-fueled - were there for the experience rather than to see a "name band". Thus, an emphasis on simple, rhythm-based songs grew. With the sound in many of the rooms far from ideal for live music, an emphasis on a very loud snare- and kick-drum and driving bass-guitar grew. Guitarists tended to rely on simple, repetitve riffs, rather than more complex solos or counter-melodies. This might explain why, even in studios and larger arenas and stadia, many of the bands who cut their teeth in pubs still relied on an exaggerated drum sound and fairly simple musical arrangements.

A band like Hunters & Collectors;, for example, saw their sound harden from their arty origins (which included a brass-section, experimental percussion and complex arrangements) to a more straightforward rock sound with emphasis on drums, bass and simple guitar riffs; a sound that more suited the beer barns they were forced to play in over their extensive touring career.

Though Australia has a small population, the sheer number of venues that bands could play in, mainly along the Eastern coast, meant that a band could tour extensively, often playing every night for long periods. This would allow bands such as INXS and Midnight Oil to take their well-honed live skills into large venues in the US and Europe with ease.

Changes to entertainment options - and an audience with a growing musical sophistication - have to an extent seen the end of Aussie Pub Rock as an entity. The advent of dance music and the DJ have taken away the need to squeeze into a pub and see a 4/4 rock band.

Sydney in particular has seen many staple live music venues close, falling victim to increasing rents in gentrified areas; the restrictions on volume caused by an influx of people moving back to city and inner suburbs; and the popularity of the DJ and dance music.

Melbourne, too, has lost venues, including the Continental in Prahran and the Punters Club in Fitzroy, but is considered to be the Australian "home" of live music.

The newer generation of bands that could be considered the followers of the Pub Rock tradition includes: Jet, The Living End, Magic Dirt, You Am I, and Pacifier.

Ironically, every few years it's still possible to catch the likes of Cold Chisel or The Angels , as they reform to cash-in on their older and more affluent core of fans, who pay top-dollar to see these former Pub Rock greats in comfortable and usually seated arenas.

Notable pub rock bands:

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