In his overview of the global music industry in the place of Music (1998), John Lovering notes the popularity of 'cover' or 'tribute' bands on Australian live music circuits. The Australian live music scene has produced many such acts, perhaps beginning with the formation of Beatles copyists The Beatnix in 1980, a group of (ever changing) musicians who have extended their touring schedule into Asia. This paper examines the historical contexts of a mimetic live performance culture, in particular the evolution of an Oz Rock [ie mainstream Australian rock] canon of performers deemed worthy of imitation (Midnight oil, Australian Crawl, AC/DC et al). The benefits of the popularity of such bands for Australian musicians - providing opportunities to acquire performance skills and reliable employment - will be examined in light of increasing criticism that the synthetic nature of live performance limits opportunities for original composers. In redefining notions of 'authentic' performance, the phenomenon has also changed local music communities. Lawrence Grossberg his previously analysed "the historical conditions of rock's possibility" (1994:48); here I wish to explore the historical and rhetorical conditions of imitation in Australian popular music venues.
Perfect Beat: the Pacific Journal of Research into Contemporary Music and Popular Culture Vol. 5, Issue 4, p. 45-59