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The Future Looks (Anti) Dismal: The All-Ages Events Getting Kids Into Live Music

18 September 2023 | 12:57 pm | Tione Zylstra

“I, myself, have been limited from experiencing live music and I just think that’s f***ing ridiculous.”


Anti-Dismal (Instagram)

Let's be real – unless you're a Disney kid, TikToker, or a nepo baby, you're not breaking into the music scene when you're young. Everything is expensive, no one respects you, and you can't even go to live shows, let alone perform your own. The whole system is against you.

Enter 16-year-old Ixara Dorizac. You may recognize her as triple j Unearthed High finalist Ixaras or as a member of Brisbane band Sunday Service. The young artist, sick of being refused gigs at 18+ venues, set out to change the industry for herself. And, thus, Anti-Dismal was born.

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Anti-Dismal, started by Dorizac when she was just 14, is a multi-faceted company.

Dabbling in manufacturing and distributing music as a record label, they also manage and promote all-ages gigs, buying public liability insurance and hiring out community halls in Brisbane for kids to experience live music – primarily by young local musicians.

"I, myself, have been limited from experiencing live music, and I just think that's ridiculous," Dorizac said. "Kids need to hear and experience live things. They're hormonal, and they need an outlet."

Thankfully, she provides that outlet. Throughout the years, Anti-Dismal has run eight all-ages events, including a mini festival with art and food vendors. The events have gotten insanely popular, with 350 people packing out a backyard show recently.

"It's a really wide age bracket at the gigs," she said. "There's full-on 30-year-olds that come for the band, and then there's kids that have so much passion."

Frankie Rosbrook, one-quarter of Brisbane indie-rock band Mt. Nadir, performed at Anti-Dismal's unofficial BIGSOUND afterparty in Fortitude Valley on September 9. It was the band's first all-ages gig, and, according to Rosbrook, it was "more wholesome" than their regular 18+ shows.

"When I was 16, I was wearing skinny jeans and Vans, and liked top 50 music. I was not in the scene at all," he said.

"It's so lovely to see these kids who are 16 and care about live music and they're clearly, in some way, queer or alternative. They're much more self-aware and grounded in themselves than I was then. And to have this space to foster that and help bring live music lovers together who tend to be on the edge and give them a home is really special."

Bandmate Jake Mallet echoed this sentiment. "It's cool to see a gig not centred around drinking and whatnot. People are just enjoying music."

Not only do Anti-Dismal gigs bring music lovers together, but they also amplify young voices. One of the main barriers that younger musicians face is that they often can't perform in venues due to their age, Dorizac found. As such, a lot of the musicians booked for Anti-Dismal gigs are under 18. Past acts include Cannon Limba, Piss Off, Loose Cannon, and Everso.

"It's a platform I use to foster youth-based sound," Dorizac said. "I think what I'm doing with Anti-Dismal is hopefully going to encourage the next generation of music."

Another way Dorizac aspires to do that is through Anti-Dismal's record label. By partnering with Starving Kids Distribution, she has put out various singles of her own.

"I wanted to be able to trust that my music would be safe. You put so much time into it, you spend so much time in your room getting at it, so it's just really important to me to be able to own it."

In the current climate within the music industry, this is a totally understandable move. If Taylor Swift wants to own her masters, why shouldn't others?

And, as Dorizac noted, being young in the music industry can lead to less-than-desirable results.

"You don't know if age is an advantage or disadvantage. It's like, will they respect me? Take advantage of me? Will I get manipulated? Or will I be given the higher ground because I'm younger?"

To lessen these concerns, she's also helped other young bands like Phantasm Street release their music through Anti-Dismal – though that's not the company's main focus at the moment.

"Anti-Dismal is leaning more towards event promotion right now," Dorizac said.

And for good reason - their events are great. We managed to get to their BIGSOUND afterparty, and what a party it was. The lineup of Mt. Nadir, Ixaras, and Special Features was an indie-rock lover's wet dream.

The small venue was packed to the rafters with a huge range of people ready to headbang their hearts out. You could see groups of teenagers in the neon lights, very obviously hyped to be at their first live music event. The excitement was palpable.

And when the music started, the energy was electric. It was so refreshing to be in a crowd clearly there for the music. No drunk people pushing you over. No one throwing up next to you. Just a bunch of teenagers not quite as jaded as the rest of the world – yet.

People were leaving their bags in the corner of the room, just relying on "the milk of human kindness," as one concert-goer put it. There was a conga line. There was a death circle. There was a very short stint of crowd surfing. It was the most chaotic and wholesome gig ever.

As Special Features put it, "All-ages shows are the fucking best."

So, basically, if other young musicians have just a shred of Ixara Dorizac's passion, persistence, talent, and pure unfiltered rockstar energy, the future of Aussie music is anything but dismal.