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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.

 
 
 

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