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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 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.


Live Gig Video: Marmozets return with performance video for ‘Play’

By on Wednesday, 23rd August 2017 at 4:00 pm

It’s been an age since we’ve heard from Bingley metal band Marmozets. A good 3 years, in fact. They’re back with a new single, ‘Play’, which they will no doubt be bringing to Reading and Leeds next weekend. It’s definitely more poppy, and with a smoother production than I recall them being before, but I imagine this was a calculated move to get more airplay and more fans, and you can’t fault them for that. To introduce their newest material, they’ve filmed a hectic performance video that sees the band go for it while strobe lights blink and rain pelts down. Watch they have at it below. If you’re missing Reading and Leeds, they’re playing a bunch of shows in the UK in October. For more on Marmozets here on TGTF, follow this link.


Live Gig Video: Tom Chaplin shares ‘Carried by The Wave’ tour video compilation

By on Tuesday, 22nd August 2017 at 4:00 pm

Tom Chaplin released his debut solo album last year. ‘The Wave’ dropped last October on Island Records; you can read my review of it through here. He’s been touring the LP on and off since its release, hitting so many places this year. As a thank you to his fans who came and those who bought and supported the record, he’s compiled clips from the international ‘Carried by The Wave’ tour, set to the inspirational closing track from the album, ‘The Wave’. The video below also includes moments behind the scenes with his backing band. Enjoy. For more on Tom Chaplin’s solo career here on TGTF, go here.


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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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