Helloooooo BIGSOUND 2018. It’s definitely BIG – 150 acts in 18 venues over 4 days. And there are most definitely, well, SOUNDs. Lots and lots of sounds from every genre of music. So pop on a pedometer and join us as we cut laps of Valley and bust our daily step count stats to take you, dear reader, out of the rain and into the crowds with the freshest music and stories from the festival.
Straight out of the gates on Night 1 were four Gold Coasters in the industrial, deep underground venue of Greaser for the Footstomp music party. On a tiny stage almost at floor level, the young musicians drew a decent crowd for their earnest set of Holy Holy-esque and 70s synth sounds. With several songs on triple j unearthed including their latest ‘Future Forever’, the group have been touring fairly regularly and ones to watch as their sound matures.
Super strong vocals were a feature of this country NSW native, with a polish and professionalism that clearly comes from touring and commitment to his craft. Benny’s relaxed grip on the indie/acoustic pop sounds (more on the rock end of the continuum in parts) meant a handful of the growing crowd were clearly already fans and singing along to the tracks. Despite a small space to work in, Benny commanded the stage and filled the room sonically playing his new single ‘Talk’ (currently rating very strongly on unearthed) and finishing with a heavier, ‘fun to play’ finale of ‘The Phoenix’.
Another act repping the GC, this time of the post-punk variety. A mere two years after getting the band together, these Kirra lads have recently embarked on a national tour that will segue neatly into some California dates. Their sound is an eclectic mash of high energy, hard-driving beats with the occasional psychedelic bridge for good measure. They are finding their social and personal commentary voice too with and anti-copycat anthem ‘Surfing’s Not Cool’ (available via unearthed) and an angry ‘one day I’ll see you in hell. F*ck you.’ lyric.
Finishing off the Greaser stop were this Bris-band of more mature artists who brought the unmistakable sounds of their roots to the stage. Their sound is loud, lusty, 90s alternative Australian blended with 70s British influences. Their blonde-mulleted, mustachioed drummer had the equivalent of jazz hands on the sticks and was mesmerising to watch. Regular tour dates around South East Queensland will blow out listeners’ cobwebs.
BLACK BEAR LODGE
This honey-voiced songbird from Melbourne (originally country Victoria) was a delightful respite from the rain outside with her confident, articulate and angsty tunes about life, love and loss. Alice has been a finalist in the triple j unearthed NIMA awards for indigenous artists, has played Tram Sessions in Melbourne, is due to play Falls Festival over the summer and has recently released for first album ‘Friends with Feelings’. A delightful diversion and well received by a strong crowd.
A tie for ‘find of the night’ was this incredible duo from Wollongong. It would be really hard to pick they were only newly minted this year from their confidence, skills levels, number of tour dates and stage charisma. Post punk/pop is their bag and with unashamed lyrics like ‘I told you not to f*ing touch me’, they are owning at passion. Vocalist Heather has an amazing set of pipes performing at full tilt vocally as well as yogically – backbending mid-belter to an extreme depth. Impressive. As was the song they were singing at the time, ‘Dissolve. They then leapt off stage to dance it up with the enthusiastic crowd completely digging their sound. Massive stats on unearthed are testament to their appeal and with current musical stories like ‘Two Hearts, ‘about a complicated Facebook love story’ they are right on the zeitgeist money. Cry Club also performed a shredding cover of Le Tigre’s ‘Deceptacon’ during their set. Heather lamented ‘wish I’d written it’ and it’s easy to see why – it is absolutely Cry Club’s mojo. Cry Club are definitely peeps to watch.
If screamo-hardcore-metal-til-your-ears-bleed is your thang, then the enormous, hirsute men of Wildheart are calling you. Everything that this genre promises – bass that can move furniture, drum rolls like thunder in a summer storm, poignant pauses with tinkling guitars – Wildheart delivers in spades. This Brisbane/Gold Coast group have a new EP ‘We Are’ and and the crowd was lapping up their art in all its head-banging, black-clad sweatiness. Check out the EP for a richer understanding of this boundary-pushing crew and explore their impressive melodies at your loud leisure.
Melbournian singer/songwriter Samsaruh already has a couple of hook heavy songs – ‘Beautiful Killer’ and ‘Golden to Thrive’ on triple j rotation. She has an intriguing voice and on-stage X-factor and is clearly a formidable young talent. Think Bond theme music, a minimalist, alternative approach and glitzy showmanship. Having already played Falls Festival and performing with the likes of Slumberjack, Just a Gent, Dean Lewis, LANKS and Peking Duk, a woman-in-the-know at the gig confidently predicted greatness for this young artist.
THE WOOLY MAMMOTH
Beautiful, varied, layered vocals from this GC artist with her dream pop, synth, guitar driven, heart-on-your-sleeve music. A large crowd filled the venue, swaying and dancing to the set that transported listeners to another plane. Recently teaming with Oscar Dawson (Holy Holy, Ali Barter, Alex Lahey, Joyride, British India and Robbie Miller) as producer has certainly centred San Mei’s work and given it focus and strength. The reviewers from unearthed have already fallen for San Mei since her 2017 EP ‘Necessary’ was released. This is definitely another artist doing the GC proud and one to watch.
A confident, restrained set from a talented and idealistic young woman from Far North Queensland. Although a natural introvert, Greta has pushed through to share her philosophical musings with the world and has had a stellar three years of touring, recording and being played on triple j and a range of bills and festivals. Greta is a natural poet and and storyteller and has woven a song about the heat of the tropics into a catchy nuanced tune ‘When January Comes’ that was visceral in its descriptions (and much welcomed on a cold night).
BLACK BEAR LODGE
We found our second contender for ‘find of the night’ in this late night set of Gold Coast/Brisbane locals Hollow Coves and their indie/folk sound which vibes Mumford and Sons. The qualified Civil Engineer and Carpenter out front are taking the world by storm with excellent production and gorgeous harmonies riffing on their travels and universal themes. They are earnest everymen whose mothers must be extremely proud of them. No profanity, misogyny or negativity here. Just poignant, honest, heartfelt musings delivered skillfully and with catchy hooks. HIghly recommended for a deep and energising soul-balm.
The Flying Cock
Although technically not new to music (Tom Iansek has worked as Big Scary and #1 Dads), the teaming with Tom Snowdon to make No Mono is only a couple of years young and they are still exploring what it is to be No Mono. Snowdon’s physics defying vocal gymnastics and borderline interpretive dance moves were a little hard to follow at times but compelling nonetheless. Lots of sparse but richly textured musical layers from Iansek were almost performance art in nature. In parts super mellow, angsty but with an underlying tension, the set to a large crowd concluded with a cover of ‘Unchained Melody’ by The Everleigh Brothers from way back in the day. It was a bold choice that polarised the crowd – departing conversations were either loving it or firmly not. But really, isn’t that what art seeks to do? It will be interesting to see what’s next from the duo.’
IMAGES (c) NJA Photography