It’s the last night of BIGSOUND showcases with surprise headliners, surprise LGTBQI advocates and golden fashion choices. Here’s the run-down on night three.
Surprise performers of the afternoon session were British India bringing their well-known tunes and polished performance to the outdoor stage at The Brightside. They were hard rocking as would be expected and brought the crowd to the front pretty quickly. Although front man Declan Melia had a lot to say between songs, some of the banter slightly missed the mark. They made up for it by previewing a few new songs, inspired by the likes of Prince and Bowie no less.
The energy of the barefooted singer from Fremantle out front of this multi-talented outfit from WA was both unexpected and exhausting. With brass on stage, position changing musicians and a frenetic mélange of genres throughout every song it was hard to keep up but easy to love. Funk, jazz, psych and hip hop are all riotously interwoven. The second night of performances saw them more confident and ready to enjoy the vibed crowd inside at Brightside.
A super groovy three piece with B52s and punk references thick on the ground, these girls had maximum up close and personal interaction going with their packed in crowd. Quirky, fun, hyped and bucket loads of personality, their punky sounds riffed on the annoyances of ‘Fresh Bread’ (it’s so hard to cut) and the undeniable merits of ‘Punk Rock Fish’.
BLACK BEAR LODGE
The Cactus Channel
Long, narrow venues are always challenging to get to the front of but it was worth the effort to get up close and personal with the 7 lads on stage for The Cactus Channel. Clearly accomplished musicians with a discerning choice of 2 saxophones (one is really never enough now is it), the dreamy psychedelic singing style was a modern interpretation of a sixties throw-back. The crowd was loving it and clearly dedicated to the sound.
A tie for ‘find of the night’ was Wild Honey with their mellow, acoustic guitar driven vibe. A small crowd was there for kick off but it had swollen to full by the end of the set for good reason. The gentle tunes, passionately and skillfully delivered covered a range of storytelling territory and was most concentrated in an ode to lead singer Thom Moore’s grandmother. ‘Eye to Eye’ has been getting airplay on triple J, deservedly so, and sounded just fine live too.
Alex the Astronaut
After her recent cover of Paul Kelly’s ‘If I could start today again’ on triple J’s Like A Version, one could be forgiven for thinking it was merely a respectful – albeit excellent – homage to an Australian treasure. Turns out Alex is quite the erudite storyteller herself with more ‘life journey’ than ‘teen angst’ in her songwriting. The venue was seriously crammed for this smiling, articulate dynamo and she didn’t disappoint. Songs like ‘What Sydney Looks Like in June’ and ‘William and Georgia’ were thoughtful observational journeys confidently delivered. A crowd participation part for ‘Rock Star City’ had everyone focusing to get their claps in the right place and featured a good swathe of sing-a-long which must be thrilling for a newcomer.
I promised myself I was not going to focus on appearance for BIGSOUND reviews but in a sea of t-shirts and recycled clothing, this lady made a serious effort to impress. Clea (pron. Clay) was resplendent in various shades of gold – the outer layer was large, shiny sequins that played delightfully with the disco balls of The Foundry. It was bedazzling and entirely in keeping with this second contender for ‘find of the night’. Clea is an assured performer, dynamic mover and smooth as silk in the delivery of her not-easy-to-define music. Her strength is in her connection with the audience and we were begging for her attention all the way through.
Black-clad, bearded and brawny? Definitely. But would you believe articulate, nuanced and proud allies of the LGBTIQ community? Sydney prog-rockers sleepmakeswaves opened their set with a song dedication and shout out to the queer community acknowledging that they must be ‘having a pretty shitty time right now’. Indeed. And thank you. The 4 piece were worth staying up late, walking 20,000 + BIGSOUND steps and sucking back uncountable amounts of second hand smoke for as their energetic moves and intriguing sounds more than filled the space at Brightside. The layering and beauty of their imposing soundscapes is fascinating and their rendition of Robert Miles’ ‘Children’ was definitely a crowd favourite.
Photos by our very own NJA Photography (Nadia Achilles).