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Meet Happy Yess

For many an Off The Leash reader, original live music venue Happy Yess needs no introduction. Whether you’ve stopped by to catch a mate spin the DJ decks or watch a touring band, the underground establishment has sound tracked many a night in Darwin.

By Kate Conway

SINCE 2006, THE unassuming hole-in-the-wall nightspot with a beating heart of creativity has provided a stage for musicians, artists, and performers of all genres to share their art with the masses.

Established by four local musicians who recognised the need for a dedicated original music space in Darwin, Happy Yess had a few locations around town before finding a home within the Brown’s Mart Precinct. It originally operated on monthly leases, with weekly alcohol permits based out of what is these days Deadly Treadlies on Bennett Street. You can still find gig posters and paraphernalia on the bike shop walls today.

Happy Yess Coordinator John Coulehan admits there is an inherent, grungy history, but the founding goal to champion original art remains, in a welcoming, safe space for audiences.

“Basically, anything I can program, I’ll try and get in there … from folk music to rock-and-roll, metal, comedy and film nights, it’s a varied mixed bag of events that we put on,” he says.

Solo artists, heavy metal karaoke, acoustic nights, techno and house music nights – plus a group of ukulele and bongo enthusiasts – are just some events in the pipeline, as well as more to come from recent Wet season project, Happy Yess Presents.

“There’s quite a few times of the year, because of various festivals and maintenance, that we don’t have access to the shared space at Brown’s Mart. So, we thought we’d give programming the Lucky Bat* in Nightcliff an experimental go and it’s been very successful,” Coulehan says.

“We’re looking at doing more of that during June, July and August.”

Happy Yess charges performers a minimal venue fee with majority of profits going directly to the artists themselves, so the organisation relies on the generosity of dedicated members and volunteers.

There’s never been a better time to get involved in the not-for-profit arts org, and the low cost annual membership goes a long way to supporting Territory creatives. Time to get Happy, Yess?


*after this edition of OTL was printed, Lucky Bat sadly announced it has ceased trading.

Photo: Teghan Hughes

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