How To Put Together A Fred Again.. Pop-Up Show In 24 Hours

fred again.. pop up show melbourne sydney

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When Fred Again.. said he was coming back to Australia, it sent the nation into a frenzy. Again. The king of surprises, Fred managed to announce, sell out, and perform at the Opera House within 24 hours at the end of last month. On top of his six-date arena run in Sydney and Melbourne, Fred Again.. has been dropping surprise pop-up shows so fans can get even more Fred. 

As we learned last time he was here, Fred Again.. loves an Australian surprise show, ones that he casually announces from his Instagram account which causes most of the country to stop in its tracks to buy tickets. The six arena shows sold out within hours of the announcement, with over one million fans virtually queued for tickets (though not all of them were human), selling more than 100,000 tickets across Sydney and Melbourne, not including the pop-up shows he’d announce last minute. 

One such pop-up show was at the Timber Yard in Melbourne on March 2. When he was in Melbourne, Fred decided he wanted to drop a last minute show after his 9am Revs set. When Fred Again..’s team called Gideon Luber, director of the Timber Yard, at 5pm the night before, he knew he had less than 24 hours to pull together a show for one of the most hyped artists in the country. We talked to him and his brother/partner Asher all about it.

Ky Stewart, Junkee: Talk me through the process of what happened from when you first got the call to when the show started.

Asher Luber: We got the call around 5pm on Friday evening and I was on site producing another festival at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. The call came in saying ‘Could you do a show on Sunday at the Timber Yard?’ At first I reached out to Gideon and asked, ‘Knowing that we have another show already booked at the Timber Yard could we potentially shift or move the show to enable a Fred Again.. show on Sunday night?’ It wasn’t possible, however, I did propose to the Fred Again.. team that we have the Saturday available at the venue and they pushed back again saying ‘We really want to do a Sunday show’. 

At this point in time they were looking at five other venues that day so they were driving around to find venues for a Sunday show. I said to them, ‘Guys, this is the venue you need to do it at, this is going to reap the best results for you but we can only do it on a Saturday. Please can you come down to Timber Yard and let me show you around the venue’. So they came down at 8pm and I left the Sidney Myer Music Bowl and met them.

Gideon Luber: [When] they left the venue they said, ‘We’d absolutely love to make it work here. What do we need to do?’

Asher: It had been two hours between the time that they arrived to the time that they had “confirmed”. By 10pm, they pretty much [confirmed they were] going to do it [on Saturday] and doors have to open at 4pm the next day. 

Gideon: I was on a cruise ship landing back in Melbourne at 6am on Saturday morning so we were operating in this timeline where, you know, all businesses are shut, all suppliers are not answering their phones. This is 2am Saturday morning where we’d just been given the go ahead to do this massive show and we’ve got the next six to eight hours of dead time trying to make calls, trying to call in favours, speaking to suppliers, etc. Realistically, the bulk of the work needed to start at 7am when businesses and people were back online. We had to procure over 130 staff from 7am that morning to 4pm that day. 

Asher: Once we had confirmed the arrangement [at 10pm the Friday night] Adam [McKenzie] and I sat in the office and spent the next two to three hours game planning, thinking about how we’re going to be able to pull this off. So at about 2am we were finalising all the contracts with Fred Again..’s team. They essentially gave us complete autonomy from the technical production and the event operations perspective to run the event, they were just supplying the artists and everything else. Meanwhile we’re still producing a massive show in Sidney Myer Music Bowl that I had to be at. By 7am we started finalising the staffing, traffic management plans, and started deploying a huge amount of labour to start building the venue and technical production. Fred Again.. has very specific technical production requirements so to be able to pull all the specific consoles, the specific cabling, and all the different things that he needs was a big technical feat. Everything just started coming together and the Fred Again.. team arrived around 10am. They were really helpful pulling this all together. They knew that it was going to be a team effort to get this across the line before we opened the doors at 5pm. 

Gideon: We knew that there was going to be an announcement around 1pm and we knew that he was going to sell out the show within a few minutes. Word had already spread that there was going to be a pop-up show that day and by 1.30pm we had 250 people outside our venue with Fred Again.. signs in 30-degree heat. We were like ‘Okay, this is kind of building up to be bigger than what we expected this early on in the day’. So a call was made to the owner of our security company to get four or five guards sitting outside the venue so we could deal with the influx of people who are hoping to either see Fred’s car driving or hoping to get tickets. There was a whole fanfare. 

What do you think the massive hype around Fred Again.. and his surprise shows say about the Australian music scene right now?

Gideon: Fred Again.. is a different kind of artist. There’s not too much of an indicative connection between the live music scene in Australia and Fred Again… I think Fred Again.. is his own kind of expert at what he does. When he comes to Australia and announces these last minute pop-up shows the fanfare is because of the type of person he is. He is an extremely relatable person. If you look at what he does, marketing wise, social media is everything so I think there’s a real level of relatability of this seemingly superstar-type character. He’s just another one of us. He’s excited by the same thing. He does live this wild life but his personality and character is so relatable and I think that is what gets this huge fanfare. 

Obviously, his live shows are exceptional. Being a producer and a ghost producer for some of the biggest artists in the world is a testament to his talent. That goes such a long way but I think him as a person is what people are really buying into. The live aspect of his show is very unique. It’s very on the fly as opposed to these really pre-produced shows that artists of his calibre are doing when they come to the country. So those things really set him apart. 

I do think the relatability factor is something that people are really drawn to because it does kind of feel like a friend in a way. Did you both meet Fred? What was it like working with his team specifically? 

Gideon: Funny story. Neither of us could actually be there but we arrived right after the show, where Fred and his team were all hanging out in our green room. They were so elated about this show specifically. They do shows often but there was really something special about this show. His direct manager hit us up the next day with this beautiful text, saying, ‘Fred really wanted to say from the bottom of his heart and show his appreciation for pulling the show together and making his dreams come true with creating this kind of really last minute pop-up show’. We both felt really connected to his team and himself and working on this moment in Melbourne live music history.

Have you seen that appetite for local acts?

Gideon: Yeah, I think the appetite for local acts specifically in Melbourne post-pandemic changed a lot. The whole landscape of the music industry changed post pandemic. With those big headline acts being unable to tour for two or three years coming out of the pandemic they were obviously trying to make up for lost time. [By that point] touring costs significantly increased to the point where promoters in Australia had to look within and pretty much say ‘Okay, who on the ground in Australia can we really push up?’. You have these big festivals coming back for the first time who were very limited with who they could put on international-wise, but they put on these great local talents. We saw a number of local acts that have built these massive profiles in the last few years to the point where they are selling out multiple shows within a few minutes. So post-pandemic there is a huge appetite to the point where we’ve seen a massive trend move away from internationals and look at pretty much just local talent. 

At Timber Yard, Fred played back to back four hours with Skin0nSkin, who’s also a local artist. The fact that Fred gave Skin this platform to perform to a huge crowd of his biggest fans, it only bolsters the profile of an artist like Skin0nSkin, who’s actually performed a sellout show at Timber Yard on his own. 

Is this setting up a bad precedent? Or is it exciting to do a show in under 24 hours? 

Asher: There’s only a few certain artists who can pull off a show like this, who have the fan frenzy to be able to pull a show together in 24 hours and sell out. I don’t think there’s a precedent being set, I think it’s cool, new, and exciting. It may open new opportunities and ideas to artists and promoters who have a high profile to potentially do shows of this nature. That being said, Fred Again.. is someone who can easily do this and not too many can. I don’t see this sort of thing recurring commonly. 

Gideon: Obviously we don’t want to be doing that every weekend but I wouldn’t call it a precedent. It doesn’t become special after that. If there’s a few key artists who can do that, it builds an exciting time for the Australian and Melbourne scene. Melbourne is known for being the entertainment capital of Australia. If Melbourne can be known for having these huge artists do pop-ups and Taylor Swift effect shows, it can only mean good things for the Australian music scene. We’d love to see it more as long as it’s not oversaturated.

Ky is a proud Kamilaroi and Dharug person and writer at Junkee. Follow them on Instagram or on X.

Image: Supplied