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

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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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