Rain or shine: 25 things to see and do in Melbourne this spring

By Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen, John Bailey, Dani Valent and Cameron Woodhead

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Looking to emerge from Melbourne’s winter hibernation? Here are five of the best gigs, theatre shows, art exhibitions, festivals and restaurants to get you out of the house.

Cry Club combines pop-punk choruses with wailing guitar.Credit: Giulia McGauran


By Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen

Cry Club If you like your Paramore as much as you like your Van Halen, Cry Club might be for you. The Melbourne duo’s second album Spite Will Save Me, which dropped in June, combines big pop-punk choruses with the kind of wailing guitar that wouldn’t sound out of place on a KISS record. Add a splash of theatrical energy and you’ve got a fun night out. September 2, Northcote Social Club

Sarah Mary Chadwick New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Sarah Mary Chadwick has a voice unlike anyone else. Her lyricism is brutal and raw, and her records are a wholly consuming affair. Chadwick is just as spellbinding live – it’s hard to look away. Her eighth solo album, Messages to God, is out in September, and she celebrates with an intimate gig showcasing its poetic songs. September 23, Cactus Room

RVG Led by the enigmatic Romy Vager, this post-punk quartet has been a staple of the Melbourne music scene for years. RVG has the jangle of The Go-Betweens and the moody atmosphere of Joy Division, and on their third album Brain Worms, they add thundering synths to the mix. Their live shows are singular and intense – catch them at their biggest hometown headliner yet. October 7, Northcote Theatre

Japanese punks Otoboke Beaver.Credit: Takeaki Emori

Otoboke Beaver This is one of Japan’s most exciting and original bands right now, with high-profile fans including Dave Grohl. The all-women punk quartet comes to Australia for the first time in October – a tour that’s seen massive demand, including upgraded venues and instant sell-outs. Expect gang vocals, complex rhythms and relentless anarchic energy – this will be a high-octane treat. October 24-25, Thornbury Theatre

Maple Glider With her debut album, 2021’s To Enjoy is the Only Thing, Melbourne’s Maple Glider, real name Tori Zietsch, introduced herself as a songwriter to watch. Her folk-rock is smart and sensitive, chronicling break-ups, breakdowns and everything in between – and a new album is coming in October. On stage, Zietsch and her band breathe life into these personal stories. November 17, Corner Hotel


By Cameron Woodhead

Death of a Salesman A masterpiece of 20th-century drama, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman may be regularly revived, but a commercial season comes along once a generation, if that. Theatregoers should jump at the chance to see Emmy, Golden Globe and Tony Award winner Anthony LaPaglia as Willy Loman. And with Neil Armfield directing, it is likely to be a production that will be remembered for years to come. From September 1, Her Majesty’s Theatre

Anthony LaPaglia will take on the role of Willy Loman in an Australian production of Death of a Salesman.Credit: James Houston

My Sister Jill Internationally acclaimed playwright Patricia Cornelius has adapted My Sister Jill from her own novel. As its title suggests, it stands in conversation with George Johnston’s Australian classic My Brother Jack, and follows a war-haunted Melbourne family from the 1950s to the 1970s, from the aftermath of World War II to the war in Vietnam. This new Australian play stands a good chance of becoming a classic in its turn, and is directed by Cornelius’ long-time collaborator Susie Dee. From September 23, Melbourne Theatre Company

Hour of the Wolf This large-scale immersive theatre experience builds upon the success of 2021’s Because the Night, trading Shakespeare’s Hamlet for Gothic fiction. It appears to be a werewolf story (or is it?) and the Malthouse has had time to tweak narrative mechanics. This will be less a performance labyrinth than an unnerving, character-based choose-your-own-theatrical-adventure. Tickets are already selling fast, so book early. From October 19, Malthouse Theatre

Zahra Newman stars in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill at Melbourne Theatre Company.

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill Zahra Newman has enthralled audiences in everything from The Book of Mormon to a solo stage adaptation of Wake in Fright. She’s a compelling performer and a genuine triple threat, and there’s no one I’d rather see taking on the role of jazz legend Billie Holiday. This Tony Award-winning biographical play with songs unites Holiday’s tormented life and immortal voice, and is the perfect vehicle for Newman’s talents. October 19-December 2, Melbourne Theatre Company

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Edward Albee’s bruising marital slug-fest has been performed by real-life partners before, most famously Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in Mike Nichols’ 1966 film. It will be fascinating to see David Whiteley and Kat Stewart following in their footsteps as George and Martha, in this intimate production directed by Sarah Goodes. From November 15, Red Stitch Actors Theatre


By John Bailey

Flash Forward Melbourne’s obsession with laneways is old enough to vote by now, but there are still byways in the city yet to have their own Insta account. Flash Forward is an ongoing project setting artists loose on relatively obscure lanes, and it offers a fun kind of art scavenger hunt perfect for when the nights start getting warmer. Ongoing, with maps available at flash-fwd.com

Liam Young’s Planet City, 2020, and The Great Endeavour, 2023, are showing at the NGV.

Planetary Redesign Liam Young’s speculative art is deeply futuristic and terrifying in its potential. Impossibly dense metropolises and landscapes transformed by massive natural forces are rendered via sophisticated film and CG techniques. They’re hypnotic, provocative and hard to forget. This is his first major solo exhibition in the country. Until February, NGV Australia

Nightshifts Surely lockdown is distant enough that we can start to remember the upsides of solitude? An artist’s life can be a lonely one, but this large-scale exhibition explores isolation as a positive force in the creation of work. It’s a mix of new commissions and work from the University of Melbourne collections. Until October 29, Buxton Contemporary

The Soils Project This ambitious collaboration sees artists, collectives and curators from Australia, the Netherlands and Indonesia digging deep into the meanings and histories of the lands on which they work. It’s the result of five years of work, and the features some top names including local talent such as Megan Cope and Keg de Souza. Until November 12, Tarrawarra Museum of Art

An artist’s impression of Tadao Ando’s MPavilion design.Credit: Courtesy Naomi Milgrom Foundation and Tadao Ando Associates

MPavilion Japanese architect Tadao Ando’s work makes poetry from concrete. He’s widely imitated, but you know the real thing when you see it, and Melbourne gets its chance with his new design for MPavilion at the tail end of spring. From November 16, Queen Victoria Gardens


By John Bailey

Now Or Never The festival formerly known as Melbourne Music Week is more expansive than its predecessor, bringing a bunch of techno-wizardry and hard-to-pigeonhole art into the mix. Most of it is technically a winter affair, but the first few days of spring still feature more than two dozen events ranging from Greek plate-smashing in a dance-club setting to leading acts presenting music for their own funerals. Until September 2, various CBD venues

Fuse Darebin’s Spring multi-arts festival has a sprawling program. There are plants as musical instruments, art made from Merri Creek detritus and a generous selection of live music and notable films. Hot tip? Melbourne’s buzziest theatremakers are Pony Cam, here presenting All of This Could Be Yours, in which Baby Boomers and young performers compete for your attention. September 2-7, various venues

Sammy J will be performing his 50 Year show at Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Melbourne Fringe Technically it’s now middle-aged, but Melbourne Fringe never seems to struggle to keep looking fresh. This program is its biggest yet, with a general theme of play throughout. A highlight will be Sammy J’s 50 Year Show, which has been enjoying a new iteration every five years for the past 20 years. October 3-22, various venues

Tools For After This hybrid of art, science and cultural exchange is an attempt to grapple with the climate crisis and a showcase for cutting-edge work from Italy, where it won a competition by the Festival of Italian Creativity. Italy has a pretty long pedigree when it comes to creativity and scientific innovation, and the program includes short films and documentaries, exhibitions and more. September 14, Melbourne CBD and Fitzroy

Melbourne favourites Amyl and the Sniffers play the new Always Live festival.

Always Live This new 17-day festival will see 165 artists playing gigs across the state, ranging from arena spectaculars to up-close experiences. International heavy-hitters include Christina Aguilera, Jai Paul and Eric Prydz, while talent such as A. B. Original, Amyl and the Sniffers and Cosmic Psychos will represent the locals. It’s billed as the largest event of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. From November 24, various venues


By Dani Valent

Reine The most exciting opening of the year is a heart-stoppingly grand dining destination by the same team that brought us Nomad. Reine is in Melbourne’s 1891 stock exchange, a neo-Gothic marvel that feels like a cathedral. Dress up for a glorious evening or pop in for oysters at the dedicated seafood bar. 380 Collins Street, Melbourne, reineandlarue.melbourne

Reine’s dining room in the former stock exchange.

Studley Park Boathouse A Melbourne icon has been renovated and reborn for spring: come for scones, pizza, all-Victorian wine and a row on the river. For the first three weekends of September between 2pm and 4pm, there’s free pizza, boat hire and kids’ ice-cream, plus live entertainment. Boathouse Road, Kew, studleyparkboathouse.com.au

Hotel Railway September means footy finals means pubs and the Railway has Brunswick’s biggest screen and atmosphere, no matter who’s playing. Sheltered and heated outdoor spaces add to the appeal, as does the easygoing menu that mixes pub essentials with Mediterranean flavours: think pork belly skewers and pickled cabbage, and glazed salmon with date sauce. 291 Albert Street, Brunswick, hotelrailway.com.au

Hotel Railway in Brunswick is great for spring afternoons and watching the footy.Credit: Kate Shanasy

Clementine They do a basic breakfast but when the menu is this creative, surely you want to roll the dice? Dishes such as waffles with roast duck and truffled Waldorf salad, and the tom yum fried rice with tempura-fried tiger prawns display fine dining creativity. As soon as the liquor licence comes through, the swanky downstairs parlour will open as a supper club. 67-69 Palmerston Cres, South Melbourne, clementine3205.com.au

Victoria by Farmer’s Daughters This riverside restaurant is a good bet any time of year because it showcases the state’s best seasonal produce, but it’s especially seductive in spring. Come for al fresco Sunday sessions in collaboration with Four Pillars Gin and Sunday grills with shared barbecue banquets. Federation Square, Melbourne, victoriarestaurant.com.au

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