Festival coverage, including that from SXSW 2017 and BIGSOUND 2017, can be read through here.

SXSW 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Live at Leeds 2016 | 2015 | 2014
Sound City 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Great Escape 2015 | 2013 | 2012

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BIGSOUND 2017: Day 2 Roundup (Part 1)

 
By on Friday, 22nd September 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

After the first night of shows Tuesday at BIGSOUND 2017, Wednesday came and it was time to be serious and attend some conference sessions. I began my day with the Stay Woke, Stay Punk, Stay Relevant session starring a panel of managers and bookers of punk artists and events. Based on the fact that this session even existed, there must be a popular misconception that punk artists are immune, or at least not bothered intellectually at all by the same financial problems experienced by artists of other genres.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The panelists were asked whether they’d be willing to put their artists’ faces on a Coca-Cola can to get sponsorship dollars. While there were some laughs, the unanimous response across the board was yes if the artists themselves decided for themselves they wanted to sign on the dotted line. Los Angeles band This Will Destroy You turning down a potentially lucrative and high-profile tv sync with Walmart is a good example that all bands, not just punk ones, have the opportunity and wherewithal in themselves to stand by their principles. [NB: Walmart has been hit out by musicians in the past for the wares they sell, including Sheryl Crow in 1996 in ‘Love is a Good Thing’.]

Stay Woke, Stay Punk, Stay Relevant panel

Warped festival’s decision to kick The Dickies off their tour after the band’s frontman made misogynist comments to a female punter was also unanimously agreed on, reflecting the changing tide in how women are treated both in the music industry and as fans demanding safe spaces. On a slightly different note on the same topic, Melbourne metalcore rockers Drown This City received what they perceived as unwelcome attention when it was revealed that they were one of only two acts at UNIFY festival in 2016. While they were encouraged by various outlets to speak on their unique position at UNIFY, frontwoman Alex Reade passed on all of these opportunities, preferring to be judged by their music alone instead of the words they might have said on a soapbox.

In terms of things directly applicable to TGTF, Hayley Connelly of UK company Little Press explained a time when she had to convince a now established punk act to do an interview with a grass roots punk outlet who had championed them before they had ‘made it’. Having been denied press with acts we have helped on the way up, I can certainly relate to the story and appreciate that some PRs like Hayley understand and support what us little guys do.

You might be wondering why I would attend a session called ‘The Growing Asian Market’. The last time I was in Australia, I was here for the ARIAs and attended the first-ever Masterclass as part of the inaugural ARIA Week. In case somehow you never thought about this, Asia is looked upon as an easier market to break and gain experience from for Australian artists. A big part of this is simply geography: have you ever looked at how expensive plane tickets from Oz to North America or Europe are? As an American with roots in China and Taiwan, I wanted to hear just how different the music scenes and industries in Asia were and how difficult they were to crack.

Unlike the Western markets we’re used to, gigs and tours are driven by demand by Asian fans to see artists, not album releases. Also, social media is an even bigger king in Asia: with the speed of media being spread around by young fans, it’s easy to go viral in a certain country or region if you’re considered a hot commodity. Knowing these tips are important keys in being successful in marketing artists and their shows in Asia. It makes sense, too, that similar approaches can be used in markets such as Melbourne, where large student populations made up of temporarily transplanted Asians act similarly to the way they do at home. The past success of Asia Pop Fest in Melbourne proves this. One wonders if similar efforts to spread Asian music should be done in cities with large Asian student populations like Sheffield and in an exchange program of sorts so artists from both countries can benefits. [NB: Later Wednesday afternoon, I also attended a session on blockchain and how it assists artists in receiving the royalties they deserve. Rather than make a mistake in explaining what some of these companies do, I suggest you follow Jaxsta, Paperchain and Zimbrii on Twitter and follow along.]

But it wasn’t all about sessions. The number of lunchtime and afternoon parties during BIGSOUND were astonishing, and upsetting if you were disappointed you had to miss any of them. Cattleyard Promotions offered up a BBQ at Ric’s Big Backyard and naturally, they had artists lined up to serenade those noshing sausages on the barbie (sorry, had to go there) and partaking in the free beer. The first act on fit perfectly into my afternoon: the elusive Didirri, whose Laruche showcase the previous night was the place to be. Is the lanky, long-haired singer/songwriter the next Hozier or Ed Sheeran?

Didirri Wednesday afternoon at BIGSOUND 2017

Maybe not exactly, but it’s obvious his lovelorn tales turned into song are easily relatable. If ever in the future he recounts a story about showing up repeatedly at a girl’s door like a lovesick puppy, only to find she’s been sleeping with other men and he couldn’t get the hint, I’d guess BIGSOUND 2017 was one of the first places he ever told the story publicly. I think we all root for the underdog and the downtrodden, so even though it seemed like a bit of a ploy to get the audience on his side, it worked like a charm. I expect Didirri to pop up to play shows in America and the UK soon enough.

Annie Bass Wednesday afternoon at BIGSOUND 2017

Annie Bass (solo, above) and Tia Gostelow (with a band) followed Didirri. Maybe it was the burning skin sensation I was feeling, standing in Ric’s backyard , but I wondered if either of these acts would have worked better in evening club settings. The voice of Sydneysider Bass got lost in the outdoor setting, as it was no match for her electronic soundscapes that took the lion’s share of attention front and centre. The country twang of tunes by Mackay, Queenland’s Gostelow and her band, while jaunty, wasn’t my cup of tea either. Imagine a young Stevie Nicks, but with dreamy and not rocky backing.


Tia Gostelow Wednesday afternoon at BIGSOUND 2017

I’m including a photo of RVG (Romy Vager Group) from Melbourne at an unofficial showcase at Bloodhound Bar later in the day, as there’s a lot of buzz behind them. Apparently they are a big deal in Melbourne. I honestly didn’t know anything about the group when I decided to go see them, but I’ll do some more research. In the meantime, read this interview with their frontwoman.

RVG Wednesday afternoon at BIGSOUND 2017

 

BIGSOUND 2017: Day 1 Roundup (Part 3)

 
By on Thursday, 21st September 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

In the South East region of Queensland, Brisbane is the centre of the universe during BIGSOUND 2017, of course. There were loads of acts from the city but there were those from lesser-known towns, too. Apparently unbeknownst to me until I arrived, it turns out Queensland is cowboy country in Australia. Rockhampton, a city known for beef production from the more northerly region of Fitzroy, has spawned the band Pandamic who were to be the last band I’d see at The Zoo. I’m sure it helps their profile that they’re signed to Aussie stars Dune Rats’ own Ratbag Records. Although they class themselves as punks, there’s a honky tonk flavour crossed with pop to their music that made them sound entirely different from everyone else I heard at BIGSOUND.

Pandamic Tuesday night at BIGSOUND 2017

From there, it was off to the Foundry on Wickham Street. With its multiple levels, it felt distinctly chic, and what else would you expect from a place considered one of Brisbane’s coolest bars? I was there to see Adrian Mauro, aka Machine Age, a Brissy transplant from the Great Barrier Reef jumping off point of Cairns. As those of you who read my pieces regularly know, one-man bands don’t put me off, I adore them, especially if electronic bands are involved. Live, Mauro is joined by a drummer, which added additional pomp and oomph to his sound.


Machine Age Tuesday night at BIGSOUND 2017

Like fellow BIGSOUND showcasing act Evan Klar, Mauro started his musical career behind the scenes in supporting more conventional rock acts and this project is the realization of his own creativity. Utilising industrial beats like electronic greats like Gary Numan and pairing them with screeches of electric guitar and his own emotional vocals, together it all sounds brilliant.

Turning my attention to the harder side of the festival proceedings, I headed to the unabashed centre of hard rock during this year’s BIGSOUND. Crowbar has a satisfying underground vibe and sporting a wall and a metal barrier that surely had tales to tell. I suppose Melbourne’s Belle Haven could be considered one of the more established acts performing during the festival, having released their second album ‘You, Me, and Everything In Between’ this past summer…er…Australia’s winter.

Belle Haven Tuesday night at BIGSOUND 2017

The band’s energy, shown as they blasted away tunes to their devoted, head-banging fans, was undeniable and infectious. Their set was sweaty and frantic but highly enjoyable. But probably what will stick with me was frontman David De La Hoz’s inspiring words on mental illness and recovery. For those who assume hard rock is simply made to create a racket and devoid of meaning, these words were a reminder that for many, hard rock is a different mode of emotional expression.


Karl S. Williams Tuesday night at BIGSOUND 2017

Taken in by their performance, I lingered longer at Belle Haven’s set than I had originally meant to, which led to me booking it and catching only a few precious bars of locals WAAX at The Brightside’s outdoor stage. At a loose end, I retraced my steps to Laruche, having been shut out of Didirri’s set earlier. Like Belle Haven before him, the long-haired and hatted Karl S. Williams used his particular genre – roots rock – to express his feelings. He brought the house down with a guttural voice any gospel choir would hold close to its bosom. Close your eyes, and you could swear you were on the Mississippi Delta, not Brisbane.

To go further back in time, I stopped in at Black Bear Lodge to satisfy my curiosity of Slow Dancer. Simon Okely is the kind of songwriter you wouldn’t expect to survive in times like these. Perhaps we can blame (bless?) Fremantle, on the other side of Australia near Perth, to allow such an artist like him to blossom? Imagine my surprise finding out from my research on him that he used to play guitar in another Melburnian act I like, the more conventionally indie rock Oh Mercy.


Slow Dancer Tuesday night at BIGSOUND 2017

With Slow Dancer, he’s consciously chosen to a simpler, more retro sound that’s oddly mesmerising because it’s oh so different to everything out there right now. Do I sound like I am repeating myself? Maybe I am, because the acts I wanted to see at BIGSOUND were those not content to sit still in the already drawn up genre boxes and conventional moulds of the music industry. He’s already been picked up on NPR’s radar, so he must be doing something right.

A last minute change in my schedule led me to Golden Vessel’s only BIGSOUND appearance at The TBC Club, which I later learned to be the hot place in town for electronic producers and DJs to cut their teeth on and gain experience early on in their careers. Whether it was a poor sound mix, a too slow tempo, jet lag, something bad I ate or the strange vanilla scent wafting through the air at The TBC – I honestly think it was the latter; what a weird choice for a dance club! – I started to feel nauseous and had to call it a night. Still, 11 bands in the can. Not bad at all for my first night at BIGSOUND 2017.

 

BIGSOUND 2017: Day 1 Roundup (Part 2)

 
By on Wednesday, 20th September 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

An East Coast Australian music fan has probably travelled up and down the coast for shows and has a much better idea about the bigger venues in Brisbane than I do. One of those long venerated places utilised at BIGSOUND 2017 was The Zoo, at which I saw 3 acts Tuesday night. The first of those was Horace Bones, the self-described “horror psych punk” band from Melbourne. As expected, their music was loud and their singer menacing. Even someone like me who likes punk could only take so much. It’s unfortunate that in a venue as big as The Zoo that they didn’t have a larger audience, but the room never truly filled up for any of the sets I saw there during the festival.

IV League Tuesday night at BIGSOUND 2017

IV League the band (not the Aussie record label) were next on my schedule, playing The Brightside’s outdoor stage. What became apparent pretty quickly to me was the venue’s popularity, quite possibly due to it being outdoors and allowing smokers to indulge in their vice and/or them having two bars. Dancing to their style of reverb-drenched indie rock is less likely to send you to hospital than it is to cause you to sway back and forth. Their sound is more of a throwback to shoegaze than to the slacker rock we find so popular in the UK and America at the moment.

Since I was already there (see my how to see 5 bands in 1 hour at SXSW 2017 feature at through here), I popped inside the actual Brightside building to catch a few precious moments of Alithia. Proggy, psychedelic space rock and dudes with long hair banging on their instruments sound like your thing? As you probably have guessed, not my bag. However, they are apparently known and well regarded in Europe, having supported big acts over there already, so you never know with music, do you?

Alithia Tuesday night at BIGSOUND 2017

In an attempt to woo the current and would-be TGTF readers who have tastes more like Carrie’s, I wanted to take things down a notch and have a look in at the much hyped Didirri. As we all know, smoky, soulful voices can go a long way (*cough* Hozier *cough*) and the Melbourne singer/songwriter has that certain gift. Laruche bar on Ann Street closer to Brunswick Street Mall also appeared to be a much smaller place to catch an intimate performance. So what was the problem? Many other BIGSOUND attendees had the same exact idea, so much that the bouncers outside were holding people back from going in, concerned of the fire hazard of those craning their necks at the very short entrance way into the club. I could hear some music but couldn’t see anything. I know when I’m beat.

PLTS Tuesday night at BIGSOUND 2017

Making my way east back to The Zoo, PLTS (pronounced “pilots”) were just hitting their stride. The Byron Bay group offering up a more straightforward approach to rock plus a good dose of power pop was just the ticket after getting thwarted at Laruche. There’s also a nice, anthemic feel to their music that offsets the palpable angst of the vocals of lead singer Kit Bray. Taken together, PLTS are the kind of band to deliver both physical and emotional responses readily and well and put their town on the map for more than just Splendour in the Grass.

Next, I was curious to check out a venue with a funny name: The Flying Cock, which was hosting themusic.com.au stage during the entirety of BIGSOUND 2017. Dream Rimmy, from the opposite side of the country in Perth, Western Australia, seemed on paper to be excellent to represent the current transitional nature of the music industry, its growing pains obvious as women assert themselves in this business. Their shoegaze-y sound is unsurprising, given their noting of important influences from the ‘90s like The Dandy Warhols and My Bloody Valentine.

Dream Rimmy Tuesday night at BIGSOUND 2017

I reveled in the fact, too, that the dueling women fronting the band, while simultaneously playing their guitars I might add, were both wearing glasses. When was the last time we really had a prominent female singer with glasses, Lisa Loeb? I don’t normally go “yayyyy!” and start waving my bra around when women are up on stage. Feminism over the years has made me uncomfortable. But for some reason, Dream Rimmy’s quest to have fun and smiles all around, combined with their engaging music, had me cheering for more. Girl power!

 

BIGSOUND 2017: Day 1 Roundup (Part 1)

 
By on Tuesday, 19th September 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

The first day of BIGSOUND is similar to SXSW in that conference sessions don’t really get going until the second day. Naturally, I used the opportunity to pop in and out of afternoon showcases and attend some industry mixers to get a better read of what I was about to experience. A Woman in Music welcome event at Eleven rooftop bar on Ann Street was a nice event on the docket to help situate someone like me who had never attended BIGSOUND before, with several industry luminaries giving both newbies and artists alike tips and tricks to make the most out of their time at the event. An international delegates event later in the afternoon at The Pig and Whistle felt bit awkward for myself from America to attend when surrounded by Australian industry people who seem to all know each other. Still, I guess it’s interesting to see that industry people in Oz act just the way they do in America and the UK?


Jess Ribeiro Tuesday afternoon at BIGSOUND 2017

Remote Control Records, a promotions group in Melbourne, was putting on one of the first afternoon parties of the week. The beer garden at the entry point for The Brightside isn’t big, but its feel is like those you experience at The Great Escape: pretty intimate, yet relaxed enough that going to the bar for a beer isn’t an offence, it’s practically encouraged. Perhaps it wasn’t the smartest idea for Jess Ribiero and her band to use this moment to premiere a new song live, but you have to give her credit for at least pushing out the boat.


Considering from where I come from, I find it highly ironic that one of the first bands I would see at BIGSOUND was a cover band. At least they were from Brisbane. Playing around the corner on the bigger outdoor stage for the Social State party at The Brightside were Bris-182, a collective of musicians usually numbering in sum over 10 and who are in their own indie bands, but they come together to form this supergroup to play songs by their guilty pleasure Blink-182. If you want to talk about surreal, just imagine how surreal it was for me to be thousands of miles away from home at the outdoor stage at The Brightside and see a covers band from my country. They even had a guest star on vocals, Jeremy from Velociraptor, join them on stage for a tune.

Jim Lawrie Tuesday afternoon at BIGSOUND 2017

During the stage break on the bigger outdoor stage, I wandered back to the front beer garden of The Brightside to catch a tune by Jim Lawrie. My initial research on the man prior to coming out to BIGSOUND suggested that I was in for a Bruce Springsteen-esque performance, which in general (for me anyway) would mean I wouldn’t like it. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised with a mélange of jangly guitar and drums more reminiscent of a band important in my early musical upbringing, The Eagles. This is music for lonesome drives down long, lonely motorways, and I like it.

Evan Klar at BIGSOUND 2017 Tuesday

My main purpose of being at The Brightside in the first place was to see Evan Klar, who’s been signed to EMI Australia. A true globetrotter as described in my blurb suggesting him as a best bet at BIGSOUND 2017, it’s good to see a former London session musician coming into his own, making his own music and having been recognised by a major so early on in a new project. Funnily enough, I had unwittingly started a conversation with the currently Melbourne-based Evan when Bris-182 were loading in and got an insider tip that his performance would be a slightly stripped version of what he’d be bringing to his two evening showcases the following 2 nights. He has an interesting style, in that there’s a huge percussive element to his music (with help from his live band) that makes his points come across more emphatically and more vibrantly than the bog standard singer/songwriter. That said, in singles like the already released, dusky ‘Sleep’, he shows his pop music intelligence and writing ability.

Sadly, I left before Brisbane’s own WAAX took to the stage following Evan Klar and didn’t get a chance to catch them before the conclusion of the festival. There’s a lot of buzz around the band. Although simply being local with respect to BIGSOUND must have been a help, they also placed in the top 5 shortlist of acts among over 120 acts entered in Brisbane’s own The City Sounds’ Amplify competition, proving their worth. Despite my best attempt by my feet to see them Tuesday night, I missed them.

My afternoon concluded with what can certainly be named the most awesome venue I had the good fortune to visit during my time at BIGSOUND. Just to the left of the stage for the Spirit Level Records showcase in the basement of The Judith Wright Centre, a tactile, sound-resonating art installation hung from the ceiling (see the header photo at the top to see what I mean). This is where I got to see Melbourne’s Braille Face. A lot of people in America and the UK have become enamoured with the soulfulness of Matthew E. White. The surname of the prolific Jordan White, who releases music under the stage name Braille Face, seems a little too perfect. He’s a Melburnian who has fully embraced and chosen to experiment with the electronic technology that makes one-man bands these days possible but it’s his rich, compelling, soulful voice that will win him legions of fans.

Braille Face at BIGSOUND 2017 Tuesday

‘Koya’, his album released last year, is chockfull of beauteous soundscapes and his appearance on the scene is much appreciated after East India Youth announced last year that he was hanging up his hat. While I arrived to his set late, I was rewarded with songs on which he was accompanied by a violinist, which added a traditional counterbalance, if you will, to what he was doing on keyboards. To get an idea of what this might sound live, watch the live piano version of ‘Because’ below.


 

BIGSOUND 2017: Introduction and pre-festival Rice is Nice X Spunk showcase

 
By on Monday, 18th September 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

I think that it’s inevitable after having gone to a wide range of events around the world that you will compare and contrast them. BIGSOUND in Brisbane, Australia represents a major commitment in time and money from America, or Europe for that matter. However, BIGSOUND offers a combination of positives that provide an advantage of over SXSW and The Great Escape (TGE) that pleasantly surprised me.

1. Like TGE, BIGSOUND lasts for a manageable 3 days. It’s the right length to really get stuck in and get into great music discovery while not feeling like an exhausting slog like the 6 days of SXSW.

2. Like TGE and unlike SXSW, the hordes of punters are manageable and of good cheer at BIGSOUND. While I didn’t enjoy the crush of bodies at the Brightside outdoor stage or triple j’s stage Oh Hello, the good nature of music fans who were attending the event reminded me much of Liverpool Sound City when it was a city festival, RIP.

3. Like SXSW and unlike The Great Escape, the weather in Brisbane is sunny and fantastic. If you have ever been stuck under a brolly in Brighton, trying to keep your spirits up, you understand what this means. I have wondered, too, if it’s the weather or the unruliness of the punters that make the many bouncers of Brighton surly and unhelpful.

4. Shows start on time. This might not sound like a big deal, but it makes things so much easier for someone like me who’s got a full schedule organised each day and night. From the general music fan’s point of view, this is also of benefit: if you’re really keen on seeing on a certain band, you won’t be kept waiting.

5. Related to the previous point, all venues are organised, with the soundboards managed by good engineers. Ever been to a festival and been bored to tears waiting for a band to go on after doing live soundchecks when they really should be performing? I can’t recall a single time this happened at BIGSOUND. Every band was ready to go from the start of their set.

6. There is plenty of stuff to fill your time at BIGSOUND, but there is also plenty of time to enjoy the Fortitude Valley of Brisbane if you so choose. A dizzying array of lunchtime and afternoon showcases made it hard for delegate to choose between professional sessions and more laid-back performances, many in outdoor and/or whimsical spaces. If you so wished, the James Street shopping precinct and boho neighbourhoods of New Farm, Newstead and Teneriffe weren’t far walks to get a flavour outside of the Valley, and the Brisbane CBD was an easy walk or taxi ride away too. Having great and varied food and drink options makes going to a festival much more an experience than the event itself.

Laura Jean at BIGSOUND 2017

But let’s get back to the music. Unsurprisingly, Aussie indie labels Rice is Nice and Spunk wanted to hit the ground running with BIGSOUND, offering up an entirely free showcase at the Black Bear Lodge in Brunswick Street Mall to ease folks into the event if they’ve arrived in town early like myself. The songs of keyboard-playing Laura Jean from Melbourne, supported by a backing band, while perfectly serviceable, didn’t capture my imagination. With major labels preferring to back solo artists these days for financial reasons, acts like her make sense. These acts have the unenviable task of trying to be different and exciting enough to separate themselves from their peers and those already famous, while also not veering too far from mainstream sounds and topics.

REBEL YELL at BIGSOUND 2017

REBEL YELL was a surprising non-BIGSOUND showcasing artist who I found much more interesting. Despite her act’s name, no, Grace Stevenson’s music has nothing to do with Billy Idol. Okay, so in what some EDM heads and those in the know in Australia are calling ‘the post-Flume apocalypse’, there are more electronic producers – or people who are still too green, fancying themselves as genuine electronic producers – in Australia than the industry can actually support. I don’t think it’s Stevenson’s intention to truly shake things up in Brisbane, but she’s got good enough chops as a one-woman electronic dance show that I hope she shows up at a rave near you soon enough.

Big White at BIGSOUND 2017

From the 21st century, it was jarring to go into the next act. Sydney’s New Wave rockers Big White sound like you’ve gone through a time warp. Remember when we were in the late ‘70s and ‘80s and trying to pretend disco never happened? They’ve got a vibe that The Knack and The Vapors rode high on. Do we really want to go back to that time? Judging those in the lodge who were clicking up their heels, I guess some do.

 

TGTF X BIGSOUND 2017 Playlist: Editor Mary’s best bets (O-Y)

 
By on Thursday, 31st August 2017 at 11:00 am
 

In this final installment of the TGTF X BIGSOUND 2017 playlist, I introduce you to the remaining 12 of 24 acts I’ve chosen as best bets for this year’s BIGSOUND. Australia’s premier emerging music extravaganza will take place in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley 5-8 September next month. Last Thursday, I presented the first 12 acts from Ariela Jacobs to Mammals, and you can read my thoughts on each of them through this link. And the week prior on 17 August, I set my focus on Brisbane’s local talent being given a shout to BIGSOUND 2017. Some of the acts you will read about today were part of the previously posted Brisbane artist playlist. You can read about those artists in the associated feature and listen to them back here.

I’m looking at my coming over for my first BIGSOUND as TGTF’s opportunity to truly get stuck into the Australian music scene, and I’m very excited. If there are any Aussies out there who have further recommendations on who I should see, Tweet me @theprintedword, and I’ll see what I can do about adding the band to my schedule. A playlist with all 24 acts I recommend as best bets at BIGSOUND 2017 is at the bottom of this post.

OKBADLANDS (Brisbane; pop / rock)
Kate Gurren and Sally Latter are Queensland duo OKBADLANDS. Upon hearing them, you will be surprised of their backgrounds: Gurren’s university study of jazz and Latter’s more conventional bass work in indie bands. These gal pals create an interesting blend of not quite rock, not quite pop, and yet a still engaging mélange of the two that draws you in.

Osaka Punch (Brisbane; funk / metal)
What’s great about a music festival that puts homegrown talent on show like BIGSOUND is that you’re going to get some wild card acts that put traditional genres on their proverbial heads. Osaka Punch aren’t your ordinary rock band. Sure, they can wail on guitars and hit the skins like the best of them, but they also can be as funky as hell. Can metal and funk fuse successfully? Yes. You can also tell that they’re having a whale of a time with music, which is what we need in these cartoony times.

Pandamic (Rockhampton; pop / rock)
With the introduction of synths everywhere, even infiltrating what seems to be most of the Aussie music scene, a band like Pandamic is a breath of fresh air. They’re showing how it can be done with a more traditional rock band setup, wearing plaid and making it sound easy. What they’ve managed to do has already caught the eyes and ears of fellow Queenslanders and well known established group Dune Rats, who signed Pandamic to their Ratbag Records label.

Polographia (? ; dance / electronic)
Time to take things back to the dance floor. I’m not sure where Polographia are from, but I do know it’s the brainchild of two people, Daniel and Moktar, who are “Tryin’ to keep it real in a digital world.” This is the kind of music current era Phoenix wish they could make.

Resin Moon (Alice Springs; dream pop / electronic)
So you’re telling me you need something much more chill, and the award-winning Dave Crowe’s electronic project Resin Moon is, then, perfect for you. Having dream pop qualities that keep the electronic elements of the music from getting too intellectual (you know what I mean) makes Crowe’s music beautifully accessible to all.

Scalphunter (Perth; hard rock)
But some of you prefer your rock edgy and hard. Fast-paced, in your face rock from a Best Live Act nominee in the debut National Live Music Awards last year, Scalphunter are a no-brainer if you’re looking for your brain to get pummeled a bit at BIGSOUND this year.

Slow Dancer (Fremantle; pop / rock)
I have included Simon Okley’s solo project here because he’s unlike anyone else showcasing in Brisbane next month. Instead of trying to run with what’s hip and hot at the moment like everyone else, Okley hasn’t forgotten where we came from. He embraces what made rock music in its earliest days: great songwriting driven by melodic guitar, exemplified by Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young, two acts his sound has been compared to.

Thandi Phoenix (Sydney; pop / r&b)
Smoky, soulful pop: that’s Sydney’s Thandi Phoenix. What keeps her head and shoulders with the rest of her contemporaries is her integration of wholly modern beats with her r&b vocals and her willingness to collaborate with others, which has become more important these days in a truly global music industry. Watch out, Alicia Keys. Thandi’s about to shove you over and off your piano bench.

The Beautiful Monument (Melbourne; punk rock)
Sure, there’s plenty of single girls with guitars singing about heartbreak, and others singing other people’s pop songs in high pitches. But when was the last time you heard an arse-kicking, all-girl group? Probably PINS, right? Fearless and ready to rock just as hard as the guys, if not harder, I couldn’t be prouder as a female music editor that a group like theirs exists.

WAAX (Brisbane; rock / punk / indie)
With a sneer and ‘tude, the angst game of WAAX is strong. They’re fronted by female vocalist Marie DeVita, so the comparisons to Siouxsie and the Banshees and Yeah Yeah Yeahs seem too obvious. Compelling vocals with equally compelling rock: brilliant.

Willaris K. (NSW; electronic / experimental)
With Will Doyle ditching his East India Youth moniker, I’ve been wondering who will pick up the experimental, yet emotional electronic mantle. Jack McAllister is going to take a good shot at this. There’ s a lot one can do with synthesisers, and McAllister does a good job of weaving ambient soundscapes full of texture and points of interest. And like any electronic producer worth his salt, he’s an excellent DJ too, so I expect he’ll be entertaining the masses in Brisbane.

Yoste (Brisbane; dance / electronic)
It seems rather appropriate to end my best bets list with an artist I think should serve as the most effective musical ambassador for his country, like Daithi is for Ireland. Kurt Sines has named Bon Iver, James Blake and Jonsi as big influences on his art, and it’s not hard to imagine his music soundtracking tourism adverts showcasing the beauty of Australia and its people. Fresh and light on its feet, Yoste’s music is equally chill and gorgeous.

 
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About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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