More than 75 local acts are serenading fans at this week's music marathon in a clear sign COVID-19 has left the city "starved for culture and community".
Warrnambool Live is well under way and gigs are popping up across the city from hospitality venues and retail to even at a hairdresser's. The festival will finish with a jam session at the Civic Green from 11am-6pm on September 18.
Mayor Vicki Jellie said the level of interest received from musicians was unexpected but welcome.
"We've just been blown away with the level of interest in Warrnambool Live expressed by local musicians of all genres and experience levels," she said.
"It shows that the musicians are out there and they want to perform."
Cr Jellie said it came after a challenging period for the industry.
"COVID-19 was devastating for a wide range of industries, with live music being among the worst hit," she said.
"That's why we were among the first in Australia to coordinate an online music festival to help support our local musicians.
"Thousands watched LoungeFest and it was named the Victorian Government Event of the Year by Meetings and Events Australia, but it wouldn't have been possible without so many people pulling in the one direction, and that positivity and willingness to collaborate sets Warrnambool apart.
"While the two LoungeFest events we ran were successful, with restrictions in place for so long, the overall financial and social impact felt by the local performance industry was still significant.
"The stop-start restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 were necessary at the time for health reasons, and health and safety always have to come first, but they made planning and coordinating live music incredibly difficult.
"Warrnambool Live gives venues and businesses throughout the municipality the perfect opportunity to trial a live music program. With the musicians' performance fee covered by Warrnambool Live, it's a risk-free way to see first-hand what live music can do for them.
"The Live Music Forum later in September is also an important piece of the puzzle and will look at how musicians, businesses, government and the community can work together moving forward."
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Indigo Children drummer Tim Bayne said a series of COVID-19 lockdowns had devastated local artists' progress but the city's live music scene had been declining for years.
"The lockdowns were extremely rough, there were next to no opportunities for gigs and even if you did get one booked in it would likely be cancelled, so it was really hard to make any progress," he said.
"When gigs did resume, it was also really rough because of all the restrictions, but it was better than nothing. My solution was getting new gear and working on music production skills and I wrote a bunch of material.
"This year Indigo released one album, my other band's released one and about to release another. I tried to make a positive spin out of it but it wasn't good. Warrnambool's music scene was already doing quite bad before COVID hit; The Loft closed down a few years ago.
"The music scene was already not as good as it was 10-12 years ago when I started playing and when COVID hit, it made it a lot worse, but it's starting to make a comeback now.
"We've played four gigs this year, but there's no real consistency - I think that's something missing in Warrnambool."
The Dart and Marlin owner Dave de Carteret agreed, but said the appetite from fans was certainly there.
"We were able to secure some really wonderful funding from the state government so that allowed us to - when restrictions eased - host some gigs with a limited capacity," he said.
"When we did host those events over the summer of 2021 we saw a fantastic turnout and most of the events sold out really quickly.
"The appetite for live music within Warrnambool seems to have been able to persevere through an incredibly tough time. It seemed to bounce back really quickly ... People were starved for culture and for community."
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