Culture and heritage

Epic electronica takes over Carlton’s Royal Exhibition Building for Now or Never

4 July 2024

See a celestial formation hover over the river, take a gamified walk on Country and attend an epic concert in Carlton’s majestic Royal Exhibition Building during the Now or Never festival this August.

The City of Melbourne’s newest major festival – Now or Never – is returning with a packed program of adventurous art, ideas, sound and technology in iconic venues from Thursday 22 to Sunday 31 August.

More than 250 local and international creatives and thought leaders will present more than 100 events and sessions: immersive digital art experiences, cutting-edge performances, groundbreaking music and captivating talks.

This year’s festival theme – ‘Look through the image’ – invites audiences to interrogate what’s in front of them, explore deeper meanings and contemplate layers of symbolism and hidden messages.

The Royal Exhibition Building in the Carlton Gardens will be a hive of activity during Now or Never, hosting large-scale live music and audio-visual projection works across four nights.

The stellar line-up includes a performance by award-winning dark electronica artist and proud Wiradjuri woman Naretha Williams, with collaborator and Groundstar Music record label co-founder Cyrus 9.

“I am really excited to be a part of this hi-tech, creative activation within this historical building, and I’m always very mindful of the context of this on Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung land,” Naretha said.

“Our audience can expect a pacey electronic set with live vocals and drums, presenting material from the Into Dusk We Fall album released last year.”

A group of musicians dressed in black in front of a historic building
Left to right: Cyrus 9 and Naretha Williams with fellow musicians Kutcha Edwards, Aaron Choulai and CORIN outside the Royal Exhibition Building

Naretha describes Melbourne’s local electronic and experimental music scene as ‘active, nerdy and very diverse’ with an interesting cohort of creators working independently and collaboratively – supported by groups like Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio, Liquid Architecture and the Make It Up Club.

Looking to the future, Naretha said she plans to continue writing and releasing music through Groundstar Music.

“There is always something on the boil in the studio. We are also working to articulate more dynamic live performances, leaning into visual technology.”

Seven Now or Never festival highlights

1. Wuigada – Gagada

Celebrate the work of prolific First Nations songman and proud Mutti Mutti, Yorta Yorta and Nari Nari man Kutcha Edwards, alongside the Australian Art Orchestra, which is led by Aaron Choulai. Expect song, storytelling, bespoke visuals and lighting design at the Capitol Theatre.

2. Ben Frost / CORIN / Eartheater / Gabber Modus Operandi

Experience a night of sensory saturation in experimental pop, scorched electronics and unhinged techno. Alongside music, there’ll be otherworldly audio-visuals, plus a daring aerial performance. This event is one of four epic nights of performances from international artists at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton. View all music events.

3. Constellations

Head to Southbank after dark to see a large-scale celestial formation hovering above its own shimmering reflection on the surface of the Yarra River – Birrarung. Created by Studio Lemercier.

4. kajoo yannaga (come on let’s walk together)

Walk together in the world premiere of an interactive, virtual, gamified walk on Country guided by First Nations knowledges by Wiradjuri-Scottish artist, April Phillips.


See a radical live noise-guitar performance with synchronised images by Marco Fusinato at NantStudios in Docklands – home to the largest LED volume screen for virtual productions in the world. This project made it’s debut at the Venice Biennale in 2022.

6. Silent Symphony and Present Shock II

Experience a large-scale sonic interpretation of celestial patterns alongside an installation that collapses real-time information into ‘post-truths’ and ‘alternative facts’ at Melbourne Town Hall. Presented by the London-based United Visual Artists.

7. Roxane Gay

Hear bestselling author, professor and renowned opinion writer for The New York Times Roxane Gay discuss her latest celebrated book Opinions: A Decade of Arguments, Criticism, and Minding Other People’s Business.

Two people watching a light installation that looks like a galaxy
A person playing a guitar next to a row of speakers and a large digital artwork

Learn more

Now or Never is proudly presented by the City of Melbourne in partnership with foundation partners, Moon Dog Craft Brewery and Museums Victoria, event partners NantStudios and Rydges Melbourne, and media partners Beat, Broadsheet, Concrete Playground and RRR.

Now or Never will take over Melbourne from Thursday 22 to Saturday 31 August. Tickets are on sale now. To purchase tickets and to explore the full program, visit Now or Never.

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