Hello, I'm Greg Barila

Journalist, columnist and social media specialist based in Adelaide, South Australia. A news junkie with a special focus on breaking and live news, data-driven journalism and community/local news.

If it's new, I'm on it. Love experimenting with new digital publishing and storytelling tools, apps and networks.
Enjoy this scene while you can, it may not last. Photo: Noelle Bobrige
SEE, this is why we can’t have nice things, Adelaide.
First the Big Day Out, now the once hugely popular Soundwave music festival has gone the way of Rebecca Black’s recording career and, according to promoter AJ Maddah, won’t be back in 2016.
Those in the industry say the writing has been on the wall for months, but as a casual music fan, the news caught me off guard.
Not just because this weekend’s event will be my first time at Soundwave (yeah, I’m part of the problem) but also because, as far as I understood, the success of newer festivals like it was partly responsible for the demise of the tired old Big Day Out, which many said had come to the end of its natural life.
Music is an emotive force but at the end of the day, money matters and clearly the organisers of Soundwave have counted all the beans and decided that, for Adelaide at least, they don’t stack up.
“We can’t bring a show of this magnitude down again for so few people,” Maddah tweeted.
Just exactly how many people will trickle through the gates this weekend remains to be seen.
Last year’s event reportedly drew a crowd of more than 25,000, better than the estimated 15,000 who attended the last, terminally ill BDO in Adelaide, an event which just a few years ago could pull a crowd of more than 30,000.
Festival organisers like Maddah might bemoan slow ticket sales.
But others have also questioned whether running the event, for the very first time, over two days instead of one has also served to split the small Adelaide market.
Did this scare away music fans who maybe would have gone along on two days, if only they could have afforded the $200 asking price just to get inside the gate?
Organisers may have believed extending the festival across two days would mean they could wow Adelaide music fans with more big-name acts than can reasonably be crowbarred into a traditional one-day format.
But instead, if my experience is any guide, it has merely forced fans to choose between the Saturday and Sunday line-up, making it impossible to avoid the feeling that, whichever way you go, you’re missing out.
And that’s the other thing.
With big name acts like Soundgarden, Slipknot, Faith No More, Marilyn Manson, Slash and Judas Priest on the bill, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this year’s line-up if that kind of thing rings your bell.
Is that the problem? Have tastes in music changed? Or, as The Advertiser’s Sam Kelton argues, is the media (particularly the street press) partly to blame for failing to support festivals like they once did?
Or maybe it’s not a festival problem at all.
In 2014, a clearly miffed Elvis Costello cancelled a planned show in Adelaide, citing a lack of interest, and warned fans it may be a long time between drinks.
“We are sorry not to be visiting your fair city and state, as the opportunities to do so in the future may not be numerous,” he said.
But angry fans blamed a lack of promotion and said they would have gladly gone along to see Costello, if only they’d known about it.
And somewhere in the middle lies the truth.
If SA’s festival culture is out of tune, don’t blame the promoters, musicians, media or fans.
Blame everyone who cares about live music.
If we are every going to find the harmony again, we’ve all got a part to play.
What do you think? Have your say below.
This article was first published on advertiser.com.au

Soundwave is dead — what next for SA’s music scene?

LAST week Advertiser food editor Simon Wilkinson captured touching video of an old bloke dancing without a care to the blues riffs of a street musician on Hindley St.
But if there was anything wrong with the moment it was the fact that something so sweet and innocent stood out as something so strange and remarkable in a city of 1.2 million people.
It is not the kind of thing you see here every day and yet, why not?
I think it says something about Adelaide.
That we’re a city still evolving, a city becoming cautiously more confident about letting its hair down but a city still more at home … well, at home.
I reckon Adelaide needs a good dose of crazy; a new spirit of openness; more characters who feel comfortable to express weird ideas and alternative lifestyles.
We like to boast about our socially progressive history and all the positive reforms of the Dunstan era and rightfully so.
Rundle Mall identity Johnny Haysman at a Test match at Adelaide Oval in 2001.
But for all the ways our society has become less stuffy, Adelaide remains sufficiently conservative that the sight of a fat bloke in a Wonder Woman costume happily strolling down Rundle Mall would still turn heads and feature on every TV news bulletin in town.
(We’re also still very iffy about certain kinds of art and have been known to rise up against silly T-shirt slogans).
I miss the madness of big cities such as New York where a person might have bats sticky-taped to their eyelids and no-one would bat an eyelid.
Some cities, such as Austin, Texas, have moved to fully embrace their offbeat culture, adopting the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan to help support local businesses and plastering the mantra on T-shirts and bumper stickers.
Websites curate weird weekend adventures in cities such as Baltimore, home to Edgar Allan Poe, the guy who patented the Ouija board (his headstone is a Ouija board) and the grandaddy of all things weird and gross, director John Waters.
Of all the cities in Australia, Adelaide, where it’s still possible to see men wearing happy pants, is the place to take the culture fully weird.
State Governments have spent much time trying to make SA like all those boring cities on the eastern seaboard.
It’s time to play the freak card and give our state a real point of difference.
And while they may be few in number, the city has had its share of offbeat pioneers.
Remember the gentle, fiercely individual, leotard-wearing Johnny Haysman?
How his legend grew with every rare sighting and how, just by being himself, he made Adelaide a more interesting place?
Remember when South Australia had a premier who actually wore pink shorts? When a giant tin spaceship weirdly broke up the uninspiring drive on the Port Wakefield Highway?
When Adelaide had a one-way freeway and giant poo mountain?
More, please.
I expect this column will force the Tourism Commission to convene an emergency midnight meeting to get the ball rolling in a weird direction.
Forget uranium, SA should be running on freak power.
Get it right and we’ll all be dancing in the streets.
Greg Barila is The Advertiser’s social media editor

This article first appeared in The Advertiser and on advertiser.com.au

Adelaide needs a good dose of crazy, an openness to weird ideas and alternative lifestyles

A street in Hackney, Adelaide. Photo by Bianca De Marchi

“ON a cold and grey Chicago morn / A poor little baby child is born …. in Hackney”.
*Sound of needle ripping on vinyl.
That’s right. If The King hadn’t checked out on the throne way back in 1977, and wanted to update his 1969 hit In The Ghetto, the song wouldn’t be a lament about the squalid living conditions of The Windy City, but about the desperately underprivileged settlement of Hackney, in this very city.
As reported in the Eastern Courier Messenger, the wretched citizens of Hackney are living in fear that their already-God forsaken suburb is about to be turned into a “slum” and “ghetto” if a housing plan on the old Sanitarium Weet-Bix site, next to St Peter’s College, gets the go ahead.
TAKE HEED: A shanty town in Rio, Brazil. Or, Hackney in a couple of years.
Those are serious, emotive words but break down it down by definition and I think you’ll find the residents are on the money.
Ghetto n. quarter of city inhabited (historically) by Jews or by minority groups.
Slum n. dirty squalid overcrowded street, district.
The old Weet-Bix site. Photo by Bianca De Marchi
It’s almost as if Mr Oxford had Hackney in mind when he scribbled down those definitions.
The agent managing the sale of the land predicts the project will be at the “upper echelon” of Adelaide’s property market, while the council’s planning rules set out that developments in the area should be “compatible with the established character of the area”.
In other words, the development would be tasteful.
C’mon. You and I both know that’s code for “slum”.
And worse, a slum for dirty no good renters *shudder*.
As several pundits on advertiser.com.au rightly asked, why do we even need this new abomination? What’s wrong with the status quo?
“I’m sure an abandoned Weet-Bix factory looks so much nicer than modern housing”, reader Marty rightly observed.
And why settle for a boring old apartment complex, anyway?
What about something less ho hum, something more visionary, something befitting the former production centre of a company that sits on practically every Australian breakfast table.
“How about just putting a giant Weet-Bix on the site, modelled on the old Magic Mountain,” reader Sid demanded to know.
“That’d look nice”.
It surely would. It might even inject some much-needed tourism dollars into the area and save poor old Hackney from the certain penury it currently faces.

In the ghetto: slumming it in Adelaide’s eastern suburbs