RISING opens in Melbourne

RISING Flinders St photo by Damien RaggattAs the winter begins, RISING, Melbourne’s premiere festival of new music, art and performance opens today, running until Sunday 16 June, igniting the CBD with its extraordinary 2024 line-up of more than 120 events, featuring over 650 artists, 23 new commissions, 6 world premieres, and 8 Australian premieres.

Spanning sixteen nights and three epic weekends, RISING will stretch along Swanston St and beyond, with large-scale installations, free public events, and world-class contemporary music, theatre, and dance, transforming the city’s streets, venues, and hidden spaces.

“Over the next 16 nights, we’re expecting hundreds of thousands of people  to come together and experience new art, music and performance by the leading creative innovators of our time,” said co-artistic directors Hannah Fox and Gideon Obarzanek.

“In its third year, RISING is a major event that truly belongs to this city, and this years program, from our arcades and alleys, our iconic venues, and our waterways  takes the city as a stage, offering celebration, catharsis, joy – something that anyone can take part in.”

RISING The Blak Infinite Tony Albert, Crop Circles in Yogya 5OPENING WEEKEND HIGHLIGHTS:
RISING’s opening weekend will see the city come alive with a vibrant exhibition celebrating First Peoples’ art, a long awaited multi-generational family saga, an epic rock ‘n’ roll story and a monumental sound work along the river.

RISING kicks off at Fed Square with The Blak Infinite, an expansive free exhibition that runs through the festival curated by Kimberley Moulton (Yorta Yorta) and Kate ten Buuren (Taungurung), featuring Richard Bell’s iconic installation, EMBASSY, as well as works of scale, night time projections and stories of Sky Country by other prominent First Peoples artists including Tony Albert, Kait James, Tarryn Love, and Ellen Van Neeven.

Each night of the festival at dusk, ethereal voices will ring throughout the city, from the tops of buildings and along the Birrarung with The Rivers Sing, a free monumental sound work from First Nations soprano and composer Deborah Cheetham Fraillon AO, with audio artists Byron Scullin and Thomas Supple.

As the sun sets, the festival’s free heaving social hub, Night Trade, awakes. Located in the historic arcades underneath the Capitol Theatre, Night Trade made easy by Up offers nightly DJ sets, psychic readings, karaoke, art and dance classes, and a vibrant late night club program, Night Trade Stage Door.

Just announced additions to the DJ line-up include CUT COPY (DJ SET), ENDLE55, and Soju Gang – performing free in the Up Hi-Fi: Financially Soundsystem in Night Trade.

Belvoir-2024-Counting-And-CrackingAt the new Union Theatre at University of Melbourne, Counting & Cracking, the multi-award-winning Sri Lankan-Australian saga by S. Shakthidharan makes its long-awaited Melbourne premiere for RISING, before heading to New York.

At the Melbourne Town Hall, ILBIJERRI Theatre Company presents Big Name No Blankets: a rock ‘n’ roll celebration of Warumpi Band’s legacy through the eyes of founding member Sammy Butcher, while at the Immigration Museum, You, Beauty sees Chunky Move dancers interact with a giant undulating inflatable in a cavernous and intimate performance.

And a new RISING commission, ECLIPSE makes its premiere at Melbourne Town Hall –  a fierce and future-forward drag show spanning the ages, from two of Naarm’s fiercest kweens, Cerulean and Stone Motherless Cold.

Cerulean and Stone Motherless Cold to perform ECLIPSELOOKING AHEAD:
RISING’s epic King’s Birthday weekend spans an expansive day party, powerful hip hop performances, an immersive sleep over durational performance and avant-garde electronic music experiences.

Co-presented with Triple R, Day Tripper takes over Melbourne Town Hall and nearby venues with a single ticket. The mammoth bill features a special set from Yasiin Bey in tribute to MF Doom ahead of his RISING headlining show at PICA, minimalist post-punk from Bar Italia, soulful electronica from JLIN, disco legend Asha Puthli, while Melbourne industrial icons HTRK curate their very own 21st birthday at Max Watt’s.

At Festival Hall, OneFour, Australia’s most successful hip-hop act bring their raw stories of crime, poverty, and social dislocation to RISING for an explosive headline show, and at Hamer Hall Sweden’s Karin Dreijer of The Knife brings the hauntingly beautiful and avant-garde electronic music of Fever Ray.

Also across the long weekend RISING’s artist in residence, Jeremy Deller’s 24 Hour Rock Show free marathon of back-to-back music documentaries takes over the Capitol Theatre, and Hear My Eyes will see Hieroglyphic Being and Robin Fox reframe the 1987 horror classic Hellraiser with a new score and live laser performance at the Town Hall.

Elsewhere, in the depths of Arts Centre Melbourne, Harriet Gillies and Marcus McKenzie’s durational performance 8/8/8: REST offers an 8-hour nocturnal journey through the unconscious. Arkadia, Melanie Lane’s new dance opera at Substation, invites audiences into a utopian realm inspired by Greek mythology, where gods, nymphs, and aliens transform, merging natural and advanced technologies.

At Chunky Move Studios two dancers traverse a narrow path, in and out of sync, in conflict and in harmony in the world premiere of Lucy Guerin Inc’s One Single Action In an Ocean of Everything, while queered Filipino myths come to life in Justin Shoulder’s ANITO at Arts House, a theater-dance-art hybrid featuring performers morphing between animal, plant, human, and machine, reimagining future-folklore.

RISING Gurr Era OpAt the Capitol Theatre, India’s renowned mentalist Suhani Shah will captivate audiences with mind-reading and linguistic deception. Also at Arts House, Ghenoa Gela with Force Majeure and ILLBIJERRI Theatre Company present Gurr Era Op, where Torres Strait Islander women weave stories of connection and resilience amidst climate challenges.

Other music highlights include performances by Snoh Aalegra, known for her cinematic soul Yves Tumor, bringing a ground-breaking mix of rock and psychedelia, Sky Ferreira, who will captivate audiences with her blend of pop and heavy metal heart, and shoegaze icons Blonde Redhead, all performing at The Forum.

Further ahead, in an Australian-exclusive world premiere, global sensations SHOUSE invite over a thousand participants to form a mass music-making ensemble and record the result in Communitas. Beneath the vaulted ceilings of St Paul’s Cathedral, this free rapturous event will combine drums, voices, and dance to create a unique celebration of collective composition and connection.

As the festival enters its final weekend, don’t miss the return of Melbourne icons Dirty Three, who will perform their first hometown shows in 12 years with two shows at Hamer Hall and a third at The Forum, and, ONE SONG HISTOIRE(S) DU THÉÂTRE IV, an exhilarating rock concert by Flemish artist Miet Warlop at Melbourne Town Hall, features a squad of musicians performing a single song repeatedly while running an obstacle course, blending music, physical endurance, and theatrical spectacle.

RISING continues to Sunday 16 June 2025. For more information and to check out the full program, visit: rising.melbourne for details.

Images: RISING – photo by Damien Raggatt | The Blak Infinite – Tony Albert, Crop Circles in Yogya #5, 2016, unique edition pigment print on paper with hand embellishment, 83 x 113 cm (supplied) | Counting & Cracking (supplied) | Cerulean and Stone Motherless Cold to perform ECLIPSE (supplied) | Gurr Era Op (supplied)