A free concert in Christchurch is set to bring a little cheer to a local music scene that has been hit hard following the major earthquake that hit the city and surrounding Canterbury region of New Zealand's South Island on Sept. 4.

Band Together: Concert For Canterbury, an outdoor concert at Hagley Park on Oct. 23, will feature leading local names including Opshop, Dave Dobbyn, the Bats, Bic Runga and the Feelers. The Exponents, a Christchurch band which was one of the biggest NZ acts of the 1980s under their original name the Dance Exponents, will also be reforming for the concert and more acts are to be announced. The concert, intended as a show of solidarity for the region, will be funded by sponsorship.

Almost a fortnight after the earthquake, the Christchurch music scene, like most local industries, is still reeling from the impact of the biggest New Zealand disaster in more than 70 years.

Jeff Fulton, manager of local industry organization the Christchurch Music Industry Trust, says a number of local music venues had suffered damage, as had local recording studios such as the Sitting Room. "The mood within the industry is fairly sombre," he says. "But there is an incredible resilience here and people are being pretty practical about it all."

On the retail front, national music chain Marbecks -- which has eight stores in Christchurch -- escaped relatively unscathed, with most outlets quickly back in business.

However, one of the city's biggest independent music retailers, Real Groovy, has been badly hit, with owner Paul Huggins estimating he has lost up to 70% of his stock. Although the central city building suffered only minor damage, a burst hot water cylinder on the third floor above this shop wreaked havoc.

"There were vinyl bins that are half deep in water," he says. "My whole dance section -- both vinyl and CD -- is ruined. But the biggest problem was that the drawers where we store our discs fell onto the floor and the water then came down on discs."

Other independents have fared slightly better. Long-established Radar Records & Tapes, which is also in the centre of the city, was closed for a week but owner Ross Middlemiss says many shoppers are still staying away from the central business district. "There are a lot of people here have lost their houses, so in the greater scheme of things, buying music is probably not that important," he says. "However, there are also people who do turn to music when they want to cheer themselves up, so I think it will pick up."

Gary Knight of Penny Lane Records, a second-hand record shop in the city's Sydenham suburb, agrees. His store is still closed because the building next to it is facing demolition, but he thinks business will bounce back quickly as people seek escape from the realities of the disaster. "People need entertainment to take their minds off what has happened," he says.

Meanwhile, Metallica, which will play two sell-out concerts at the Canterbury Arena Sept. 21-22, is also doing its best to lift the spirits of Christchurch folk. The rock act and its promoter Michael Coppel are giving away 300 tickets to people from the emergency services and other volunteers who have been helping with the clean-up.