The whole music thing has grown into a real beast at Bucketty’s.
When we started, Lexi and I had this idea to put on live music, cause we’re both massive fans of experiencing the connection an incredible band can make with you, and an entire audience. If the mix is right, it almost becomes spiritual.
You feeling me?
Or would you rather watch a DJ?
That’s cool, it’s not really my thing though. Give me a few guitars, drums and a lead singer sweating through their sequins and I’m all in.
So anywahoos, live music!
I’m not afraid to say I think we do it well. We’ve invested serious money, and I invest serious time in curating the acts. When we first opened, anyone that could play guitar got a turn, but now we get 5-10 bands PER WEEK hitting us up for a show. We now average 300 shows per year! All free. And due to the sheer volume of bands wanting to play, we get some incredible artists hitting our main stage.
But the best show of all time? Across almost 1,000 shows since we opened…?
In my mind it’s not even a contest.
G Love & The Special Sauce on the 24th Nov 2023.
Let me tell you why.
Lexi and I are huge fans, and have been for over 15yrs. Back when we frequented Bluesfest in Byron (we went 14yrs straight before kids & life amplified the fun!).
They play a blend of blues & hip hop. With the front man, G, able to get your frail grandpappy out of his walking frame with infectious grooves.
His biggest claim to fame is actually featuring on a bunch of Jack Johnson's tracks, and wrote the song Rodeo Clowns, one of Johnson's biggest hits.
He’s never had a major hit, which is why you may not have heard of him. But he’s the real deal. Grammy nominated and an army of loyal fans, like us.
Before we opened Bucketty’s, back in 2015 we saw them light up The Basement and I commented to Lexi “If we ever end up opening this brewery, we’re gonna get these guys to play the grand opening”
It’s a comment that I’ve had rolling around in the back of my head since. I’d occasionally send him a DM and ask if he was planning any tours of Aust, which would normally go unanswered.
Until he replied to a post I sent him showing a bouncing Saturday gig here. He replied with a single word.
I was so proud I called Lexi to let her know straight away.
Then - a year passed… nothing.
He posted that he was touring Australia! He was headlining a festival in Melbourne, then doing a bunch of ticketed shows down the east coast. 5 shows in 6 days.
And on the whirlwind tour, there was a day with nothing booked. Friday the 15th.
I smelled an opportunity.
So I shot him a DM, and he replied with an email address for his agent which I immediately jumped on.
Here’s what I sent:
G put me in touch with you after a few messages back and forth on instagram.
My wife and I run a brewery & music venue on Sydney's Northern Beaches and have been a MASSIVE fan of G Love since the early days. The vibe and energy of his music had a huge impression on my wife and I, with a bunch of that DNA flowing into our venue.
I've always said that if he ever tours again over here I'll do everything possible to host a show. And I was stoked to see he's here in November!
I see you've already got a show booked at the Factory Theatre the other side of the city to us, about an hour's drive away. So I don't think there's much chance of saturating the audience if you did want to squeeze it in.
Is this something you guys would consider?
We're a joint that's known for our music, hosting musicians 5 nights per week. On the weekend we'll have a line down the street of people trying to get it, so it's a vibe.
To give you a feel for who we are, check out one of our weekly wrap ups. Make sure you watch to the end when there's grabs from the Sat night show.
What do you think?
I did a bit of online stalking and this dude seemed like he was a pretty big deal. So while I was disappointed, I wasn’t surprised that my email went unanswered.
“Hey Ivory, just following up on my email from 2 weeks ago. Any interest?”
Some dude named Brian, who was managing the Australian tour, replied!
I’m gonna paraphrase our email exchange for brevity, but it went something like this.
Brian: Hey Nick! How much can you pay us?
Me: Ahh…How much does it cost?
Brian: Lots, think about how much money we can make if we sell 450 ticket at $60/ticket. That’s how much money we want to do a show at your venue.
Me: Ok…Ah, but we’re super fans that run a small business with a limited budget, we also support a heap of live music and this would be so epic.
AND I have an idea! Let’s do a secret show, we’ll keep the G Love’s name under wraps until the end of the gig. AND it’ll be freaking cool, a secret gig!
That way you can still sell tickets to the other Sydney show and it won’t affect ticket sales.
Sounds awesome hey!?
Brian: Whatever, how much can you pay?
Me: We can pay $x
Brian: Ha, yeah ok… that’s not enough.
Me: Ok, what about $xy
Brian: Let me check with management.
Me: Love you
2 weeks later…
Brian: Management have agreed to a single secret 60min set. Lock it in.
Me: Fuuuuuuuck yeah!!!
We’ve booked plenty of bands through agents in the past and this is the part of the negotiation where we receive a long contract requesting half the fee up front as a deposit. Then a bunch of fine print to say that if the artist decides not to play for whatever reason (they get sick, or they get stuck in a hurricane, or they’re just a little tired), then tough titties. Deposit gone and no show.
But nothing arrived. Weird?
2 weeks out from the show I sent a follow up.
“Hey Brian, are we still good for the show on the 15th November?”
Brian - “Yeah, all good”
I guess we’re all good then?!
I started to pipe-dream about the show… Imagine if he asked me to get up and play a song on the drums! I’d better practice, just in case. So I jumped on the kit and played a few of his bangers on repeat, trying to nail the groove and stops. “Ok I’m ready” I thought.
The date rolls around and I’ve now been passed onto the tour manager, with an email address ending in @jackjohstonsmusic.com
The day of the show arrives and at 2pm in the roadies arrive bringing a cargo train of gear. The base amp is the biggest I’ve ever seen, almost the size of a Toyota Corolla flipped on its side.
Then the band rolls in and G greets me with a warm smile, solid handshake and says in his thick Philly accent “Hey, you must be Nick?”.
“Boom! G Love in tha houuuuse” I said in my head
First stop, the bar. I give them a taste of the taps, and they all smash a 5 Day XPA, then move onto Negroni’s.
Rock & Roll baby.
Sound check starts and as they jam along I'm floored by how good they are.
As I said, I’ve seen nearly 1,000 bands at Bucketty’s, many of them bloody good. And nobody compares to the level of effortless groove and synchronicity that the trio was pumping out at that soundcheck.
At that moment I had 2 thoughts “This is incredible!” and “There’s no way in hell I can play drums with these guys”
A round of cheeseburger dumplings for the band, they finished their drinks and headed to the hotel for a siesta, refreshed for the show starting at 9pm.
We’d just had a new baby girl 3 months earlier, so Lexi was tied to her for all feeds and exhausted from sleep deprivation, but we were determined to make it work and share the night together.
Insert Old Man Bucketty(OMB), a pair of baby ear muffs and the plan was set.
Lexi would feed our daughter, then put her to sleep upstairs in the makeshift office with OMB watching over her while we partied. When she woke up, we’d rinse and repeat.
And it worked!
Our daughter's first concert was being swaddled at Bucketty’s with a boob in her mouth, ear muffs locked to her head and a look of WTF on her face.
In the leadup I admit I was slightly worried that the show would be underwhelming. They were coming off a tour in Europe, then performing 6 shows in 6 days across 4 cities in Australia. Surely they’d be knackered?
Maybe this was just an extra payday and they’d tap out as soon as the clock ticked over 60mins?
Their tour manager pulled me aside and asked if they could do 2 sets and play a bit longer cause they’re really vibing the joint.
“We’ve got a licence till midnight if you wanna keep going” I joked
And as they hit the stage I immediately knew it was everything I’d hoped.
Groove, energy, vibe, an incredible 5 min freestyle rap that integrated us and the night.
An hour in, they took a 15min breather to change their sweat soaked clothes, hit a couple more Negroni’s and jumped back on stage.
At 11pm, Alex, our venue manager shouted over the music in my ear “What time are these guys playing until??!”
“I have no idea man,as long as they want”
The band ended up playing until 11:30pm. An incredible 2.5hr show.
Because they were having so much fun and vibing our place which was nothing but a shitty empty warehouse 3 years ago.
One of our favourite bands of all time loved our brewery so much they wanted to play right through the night, just cause it felt good.
And it felt soooo good!
Jimmy Jazz, me, Lexi and G all hanging out after the show in the makeshift "greenroom" which also doubles as a staff room, storage cupboard and bunkhouse for Tony our head brewer.
Since then I’ve been pulled aside a few times from our punters with words to the effect of “Mate! That G Love guy, what a band, they were incredible! Thanks so much!!!”
I can’t imagine another show bringing such generous positive vibes to Bucketty’s… It was one of those nights I’ll retell for years, probably decades to come.