BIGSOUND Live: Magelwurzel + Le Pie + Sex on Toast + Born Lion + Guards of May + Dorsal Fins + The Pretty Littles + Tijuana Cartel + Crepes

It’s not possible to review every band at BIGSOUND and that has little to do with the logistics. It’s a headspace thing. And possibly a sobriety thing. But we’ve done our best to capture those who’ve stuck in our heads and notepads most vividly…


Mangelwurzel at Woolly Mammoth’s Alehouse

If we had to sum up this performance in three words, those words would be”punctuated, brassy, and commanding”. Cosima Jaala is a truly refreshing presence – there’s just nobody like her around. That said, just like their fellow Melburnians Hiatus Kaiyote, the band love to start with one idea and switch to two or three others within the space of a song, and they make it f*cking work. Mangelwurzel isn’t the kind of band you can tune out to – just when you think you’ve got them figured out, they prove you wrong with their cacophonous and chaotic sounds. And hey – anyone who jokes about sucking an appendage of a certain high profile radio programmers’ to get airplay is okay by us – Elizabeth Ansley

Sex on Toast at Woolly Mammoth’s Alehouse

The 10 piece crowded the Alehouse stage at the Woolly Mammoth and brought the smooth as honey vibes, all while staying as camp as a row of tents at Splendour. There was no shortage of theatrics – and just as we predicted, there were plenty of sequins. But don’t let all the posturing fool you – frontman Angus Leslie has some seriously classic pipes. Sex On Toast walk the line between the old, the new, and the ridiculous so perfectly – there’s no denying these guys will just continue to rise on the up and up as this next year goes on – Elizabeth Ansley

Le Pie at Press Club

Listening to Le Pie’s debut EP ‘…and he said honey, you look so fine’, her grunge roots are pretty evident, but in live form there’s no denying that this is a woman who has the chops to front a band that can tear the flesh off your face with their sound (no wonder – she cut her teeth playing in punk bands). Her live band, The Sha La La’s, are perfectly attuned to their frontwoman – and she herself has such a commanding stage presence that the chatter of the Press Club can’t hold a candle to what’s happening on the tiny raised platform at the front of the room. If she keeps up the dreamy 60s-tinged tunes and impressive personal branding, Le Pie will cement herself as not only a musical pioneer to rival any prominent woman in music, but as a formidable live act and a seriously appealing concept – Elizabeth Ansley

Born Lion, New Globe Theatre

When we talk to these Sydney lads prior to their set, they tell us they’re itching to get out there. They’ve played with The Hives, The Bronx and Royal Blood and they share a road trip story about saving lost puppies. Fast forward to their set at New Globe and it’s a rambunctious gathering. Someone brings a life-size blow up doll – I don’t know why. I had seen them walking around the Valley earlier in the eve with the ridiculous thing. Nevertheless, it becomes part of the band as Nathan drapes it around his neck and quips something about bringing his girlfriend. In the jungle, the mighty jungle of BIGSOUND, not many lions are sleeping tonight. These lions are roaring. growling, prowling.  Hard edge punk at full speed. Raw – Carmel E Lewis

Guards of May, New Globe Theatre

I spoiled my ears for the rest of the night by choosing to see Guards of May first-up. Something about that wall-of-sound, guitar driven rock leaves me feeling unsatisfied by the mostly synth-driven bands I see later. These guys are T I G H T and it’s no wonder they’re kicking serious goals. As I stand in the New Globe Theatre for the first time ever (don’t judge me, I’m from the Gold Coast), I can’t help but feel the music washing over me. With five dudes working in synch on a tiny stage, a commanding frontman and strong harmonies, my conversion to prog-rock fan was fast and complete thanks to Guards of May (pictured in future image). I’ll definitely be back for more – Samantha Morris

Dorsal Fins, Brightside (outdoor stage)

The Melbourne outfit brought their uplifting thinking man’s pop to a packed Outdoor stage at The Brightside, and very obviously had a grand old time doing it. The voices of co-fronts Jarrad Brown and Ella Thompson perfectly intertwine to form a crystal clear, confident, and classy whole. It’s a seven piece but that “many cooks spoil the broth” adage couldn’t be more wrong in this case – everyone keeps things tight and brings something unique to the table, combining 80s synths, 60s funk bass and big band-style brass to such danceable perfection that even the drummer was upstanding for the duration of the set – Elizabeth Ansley

The Pretty Littles, The Foundry

BIGSOUND is basically Christmas for music fans and those in the industry, so it’s really no surprise that The Pretty Littles were having so much fun during their set that they laughed their way through the first song and most of the second and third. They also provided us with the absolute quote of the night: “We’re gonna do some rock and roll numbers and some emotional indie ones too, I think there’s one about meth at some stage. Fucking meth, ay?! Whatever happened to the humble pinger?!” Meth aside, the former part of that little rant is a pretty apt description of their sound – the band ranged from headbang-inducing riff rock to shout along alt-pop to songs that are straight up comedy routines – Elizabeth Ansley

Tijuana Cartel – Brightside (outdoor stage)

Earlier in the day, Paul George and Carey O’Sullivan told me their sound had moved away from that Mediterranean vibe to a more Aussie sound (whatever that is), but you couldn’t tell, to be honest. Between Paul’s incredible guitar work (at times it looks like he’s in a trance) and Carey mixing it up behing the MacBook, these guys seem to have honed their live show to perfection. Tonight, they’re got drums and trumpet as well. The whole package results in a very eager crowd who swing between getting lost in Paul’s flamenco-Spanish guitar and the beats that drive their feet to shuffle faster and faster.  Speaking to the audience afterwards I discover that most here have never seen Tijuana Cartel before – they seem to be converted for life. I cannot wait to see what these guys pull out of their hats as they peddle their new album Psychedelicatessen around Australia – Samantha Morris

Crepes, Oh Hello!

Crepe’s punctuated, sensuous understated droning pop bubbled and  over a fairly subdued audience at Oh Hello. It wasn’t a bad kind of subdued, but the kind that follows on naturally when listening to a band that delivers guitar slides that are as chilled out as these guys do. It’s the nature of events like Bigsound that sometimes the sound won’t be mixed in the bands favour – in this case the vocals were a touch too quiet – but that didn’t stop the band from delivering their John Hughes soundtrack worthy fare with gusto – Elizabeth Ansley

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