BIGSOUND Live brings the BIGSOUND conference back to what it’s all about: the artists and the music they make. In the beating heart of Brisbane’s music scene, Fortitude Valley, twelve venues played host to an array of local and international acts.
An impossible task to review, there was only the chance to sample the sonic buffet that was on offer for lucky attendees. Despite each performance clocking in at thirty minutes (about eight songs), there was enough time to gorge yourself.
MTNS (pronounced Mountains), kicked the night off at Oh Hello with their ambient set. With not a guitar in sight, their performance relied on singer Tom Eggert‘s vocals to drive the melodies. The keys player thankfully knows how to bring in the textures to keep the flow. The drummer filled the beat with a combination of acoustic drums a warmer pads. The pads were a missed opportunity to constantly add extra layers to the songs, but MTNS are living up to their name, reaching for the sky.
A trip to Bakery Lane proved fruitless as Billy Bragg drew in a crowd so vast, that the line to enter was backed up around the corner. Word on the grapevine is that he was as good as ever, with the crowd singing along to his hits. Giving up on entry, a short stroll to Rics Bar saw Mining Boom settling in for 30 minutes of gentle rock. This was the perfect venue for their honest and open approach to the audience. A curious mix of keys and country rock guitars, the four piece took a while to settle onto the stage, but were rewarded with an influx of people as they finally found their comfort zone.
A BIGSOUND attendee recommended seeing She Rex at The Tempo and they did not disappoint. The all-girl band hammered out punk rock, with lead singer Nikkita Rast blending in smooth rap vocals. The obvious sex appeal was a deliberate element to the show, but the band pulled in a range of ages of genders. The vocals drip with witty social commentary and are drilled into your skull with distorted guitars and heavy drums beats – this is not a bad thing, they are a must see band.
A short trip across the street at Black Bear Lodge, Darren Middleton hopped onto to the stage for the first time “in two and a half years.” The unassuming musician was a huge hit, rewarding the crammed in crowd with a smile at every raucous cheer. Which came at the end of each warm, quirky pop song. Darren has lost none of his fluid guitar moves during his abstinence, proving that he is more than ready to go it on his own with some solid song-writing behind him.
Returning to Oh Hello after The Trouble With Templeton had already started their set was an error, with latecomers understandably relegated to the very back of the club near the doors. Short glimpses of Thomas Calder didn’t dampen the energy of the music, sweeping over the crowd. There was a little too much chat happening between songs; perhaps to cover tuning time, but not beneficial to a thirty minute set. The QMA winners staunchly barreled out the hits, the highlight being the wonderfully epic ‘You Are New‘.
Sydney dwellers The Glass Towers nailed a particularly energetic set, showing off a slick sound that was a times quite funky, at times intense guitar driven rocks. The songs these guys pump out hook you in with their every-man’s lyrics; the trigger reflections in your mind quite unlike most bands out there. Just trim those bloody guitar strings – someone could lose an eye.
There’s that magical moment when you go see a band you’ve never heard of and are blown away. That band was The Guppies, whose blend of rock and drugged up indie pop made the three piece sound huge in Alhambra’s limited space. Lachlan Morris‘ wailed gruff vocals were straight up, 90s British rock. They presented one of the most enchanting performances of the night, and they deserved a bigger audience for their whole set.
An exhausted stroll to 633 Ann brought welcome relief as Band Of Frequencies provided ear friendly country rock with deliciously funky grooves. Blonde hair sweeping down, Shannon Carroll swaps his acoustic for that warm, versatile Fender guitar, flicking out blues riffs like some sort of musical hypnotist. Never has a drummer seemed so at ease on a stage – perhaps he could have been sleep-drumming. But I guess Bigsound has that effect – it’s full on tiring. Unwillingly departing, my civic duty awaited at Electric Playground.
Regurgitator kept the crowd waiting just long enough, jumping on stage in bright boiler suits. The dynamism still present in their performance astounds me, given their longevity. It was easy to see that they cared about the show they were putting on for the fans. The opener was the cutely named “Blood and Spunk”, which was incidentally the direction the gig felt like it was heading in – over stimulated fans were causing a jostle mid-crowd, forcing me to leave before an unexpected elbow made love to my nose. Still, it was a solid show from the three piece that absolutely raised the roof.
Stay tuned because there will be more. Wednesday Night Part Two is coming very soon, followed by the low down on all the cool bands that performed at BIGSOUND Live on Thursday.