The ultimate list: Bigsound’s big ten

It was a massive few days at Bigsound with both Blank GC and Rabbit Radio represented heavily at the industry event. Amongst the stellar lineup of speakers who made up the conference program proper there was the most insane lineup of live music on offer. Our formal team – Mella Bunker, Jake Wilton, Kyle Butcher and Emily Hosking laboured over the program of events to unearth the tastiest sounds just for you. Here’s their top 10.

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard | Mella Bunker

It’s no secret to my friends that I’m a little bit obsessed with KGLW at the moment and their performance at the Carlton Dry Showcase (11 September) has only increased that obsession. One of the reasons they make me so happy when I see them live is because I love to get loose at gigs (in a non-intoxicating/clothes on kinda way) and these guys make it so easy for me to do that.

I first saw the seven piece at last years BIGSOUND where they opened with epic album opener Head On/Pill from 2013 Float Along – Fill Your Lungs. That performance blew my mind and fulfilled all my psych rock fantasies in 16 minutes.  On Thursday night I was treated to another epic opening performance with freshly released single “Cellophane” from soon to be released album “I’m Your Mind Fuzz”.

KGLW were also the talk of the industry panel at BIGSOUND this year and I get why, live their music bursts with energy, an eclectic mix of guitar, thrumming bassline, wailing harmonica and fuzzy vocal effects. Guest keynote speaker Mick Harvey (The Bad Seeds) mentioned in his talk that drummers were sometimes not credited for the role they played in bands.  That would be impossible with KGLW who have two and whose timing is fierce and brings an added element to the hyperactive psych sound they produce so well. I love watching those guys literally bouncing out of their seats when they play live.

If you haven’t seen King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard in SE Qld you’ve probably missed out.  For all you other lucky buggers living south of the border and overseas, time is on your side. KGLW are about to embark on an international tour and I recommend you catch them in a smaller, intimate environment if you can before they move onto bigger and less accessible stages.

The Harpoons | Mella Bunker

On the other end of the sound spectrum is Melbourne four piece The Harpoons whose single Unforgettable dropped at the beginning of the year and is the perfect word to describe their performance on the same night (11 September) at The Brightside.  Described as modern pop RnB, The Harpoons are all vocally talented, and took turns showcasing those voices throughout their set.  That being said it’s Bec Rigby’s sophisticated sultry voice that elevates this band into another dimension, channelling sounds of Detroit and Chicago bringing something new and exciting to Australian shores.  The Harpoons have just released their second single Can we work it out and are set to release their debut LP Falling for You sometime later this year.  Keep an ear out for that one.

Spookyland | Mella Bunker

There is something haunting and strange about this intense band from Sydney, is it because guitarist Liam Gordon may have had a close encounter of the other kind?  Or maybe because bassist Nic Malouf isn’t afraid to break all the rules?  Maybe it’s because singer/songwriter Marcus Gordon’s voice is unique and hard to describe – high pitched, nasally almost cartoonish? But fucking awesome live. Whatever it is, the formula works.  Listening to Spookyland play their folk alt-rock at Alhambra on the Wednesday night of Bigsound, I found myself comparing their sound and story telling to Velvet Underground.  Dark, brooding almost uncaring if you like them or not, I felt pretty lucky to be sitting in the audience that night to witness what I believe is a band that will gain cult status.

Spookyland will be touring with The Lemonheads soon and their latest video Rock and Roll Weakling can be viewed online.

Orphans Orphans | Kyle Butcher
Even though this band has only been around for a handful of gigs, they have a huge amount of experience because they have all played in other Brisbane bands ranging from The Jungle Giants to Moses Gun Collective. Their live performance is reminiscent of early Split Enz. The raw energy, the grooving dancing and the overall tightness of sound was impressive. The set consistently made the crowd jump along with the music from intense start to Orphan finish.

Felicity Groom | Kyle Butcher and Jake Wilton
Wow. Felicity Groom’s voice is simply phenomenal. Distinctly Australian, Felicity’s music is unique: we’re talking incredible haze of alt rock with a smooth fringe of electronic music creating a virtual blend of psych and pop. Despite her guitarist ripping his fingers open while smashing out a driving beat on the drumkit, the set was consistently impressive. Felicity Groom and her AAA backing band created a longing experience and a reason for her to return to Queensland. Throwing in plenty of new material from her second album Hungry Sky, due  October – Felicity shook and shivered through the Black Bear Lodge. Black Bear Lodge was packed full of punters coming to see this talent on display and there is no doubt she is on the rise, commanding the audience with her dominating voice and holding spellbound more than enough punters – these two guys, for sure.

The Creases | Kyle Butcher and Emily Hosking
The Creases have been busy supporting their debut EP, and their set in New Globe Theatre showcased those latest songs with a slight injection of older tracks like I Won’t Wait. As most Brisbane punters know, The Creases bring the power and sporting mop tops and turtlenecks, anyone would think that The Creases are from another time and place. Their sets are consistently tight, and tonight was no exception. Energetic, fun and full of ‘ooh wah’s’, these guys had everyone bopping along and taking a ‘trip’ of their own. While their live show has potential to be ironed out, there’s no reason why these guys aren’t going to be the next big thing. They packed out the theatre before they had even struck a chord and their grooving tracks moved the crowd, in more ways than one.

Jeremy Neale | Emily Hosking

You know those acts that you read a little something about (whether it be their bio, an interview or perhaps even their twitter feed) and you just know you are going to love them? That was my experience with Jeremy Neale. The minute I heard him described as a sixties revivalist, I was hooked. And then I saw him live.  Neale hit the Alhambra stage as part of the BIGSOUND Live schedule on Thursday night to a packed out audience, and there is no wonder why he attracted such a large crowd. This Brisbanite is something else. He fills the stage with so much charisma and while the audience quickly falls in love his effervescent personality, it feels as if he is mutually falling hard for them too. My mate perfectly captured the essence of this gig when he turned to me halfway through and exclaimed ‘I feel like I’m at a prom in the 60’s.’ Jeremy Neale was certainly my most treasured discovery of BIGSOUND 2014.

Marlon Williams | Emily Hosking

The minute I heard him described as “the impossible love child of Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and Townes Van Zandt”, I knew Marlon Williams was going to be one of my top picks. And disappoint, he did not. Hitting the Press Club stage on Thursday night with nothing but his guitar and a wide brimmed hat, this New Zealander showed he is most certainly a mutual re-incarnation of some of the best musicians the world has ever seen. His powerful vocals delivered heartfelt and cheeky stories of love, life and broken marriages. If you dig the older stuff then Mr Williams is certainly going to float your boat.

Baptism of Uzi | Jake Wilton

Having not seen the Melbourne outfit since their dwarfing and momentous set at Splendour in the Grass 2013, I was keen to see how the group are developing. Prog-psych dripped across their debut EP, yet they create a heavier, most dynamic, and mostly instrumental, live performance. Favourites like Stray Current and Fire Penguin transformed into spiral swirls of prog-Sabbath riffs and quick fire bursts of lyrical delivery. An interesting insight to where Baptism of Uzi (pictured in feature image) are currently sitting – but where’s the new music, guys?

D.D. Dumbo | Jake Wilton

Packing the Alhambra I OH YOU after party was current hype machine D.D. Dumbo. The one man act was able to pull off a sound designed for a four-piece band and craft his summer infused tunes. He was able to captivate a more-than-capacity venue and charm a few girls, easily. The constant use of pedal and looping work showed how hard working and devoted this artist can really be.

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