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BIGSOUND 2017: Day 2 Roundup (Part 3)

 
By on Tuesday, 26th September 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

From The Empire Hotel where Mama Kin Spender brought the house down and finished to raucous applause, my Wednesday night BIGSOUND 2017 rolled on to the TBC Club. I get it that it’s designed to be a space for DJs and their dance-inclined fans (more on that in a future BIGSOUND 2017-related feature), but I felt the next artist on the bill there didn’t quite fit right for the venue. Maybe I had already become jaded by the festival, but the smooth, honeyed vocals of Adelaide’s Lonelyspeck (real name Sione Teumohenga) made me wonder why, like they do for conventional singer/songwriters, they hadn’t given him a stool to sit on.

Lonelyspeck Wednesday night at BIGSOUND 2017

Given the melding of pop, r&b and electronic we’re seeing in the States and the UK and in ways we wouldn’t have imagined a generation ago, it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise to me how much r&b inflection there is Teumohenga’s vocals and the overall vibe of his music. I guess if you’re reading this and you don’t fancy electronic but you love smooth r&b, then you should definitely embrace Lonelyspeck.

From r&b and Lonelyspeck, the rest of my evening was populated with dance and electronic acts from Sydney, Brisbane, and even a place found between them. Like all good electronic producer acts appearing at a music festival, Polographia were at BIGSOUND not to risk pretension but with one single goal, to throw a dance party to end all dance parties. Upstairs at the Mane Stage of The Woolly Mammoth, which had quickly become my favourite festival venue on par with Latitude 30 at SXSW, Sydney producers Moktar Youngblood and Daniel Finn were achieving that goal.

I arrived mid-set to squeeze myself between and past sweaty, dancing punters who were getting a workout to their take on chill wave and dance. To make things more lively in the live setting, Youngblood and Finn played guitars and drums live to previously recorded parts, much to the delight of the crowd who whupped it up every time there was an obvious instrumental flourish they’d thrown in as an ad lib. I think I would have been quite happy staying there, had they played a full gig at the Mammoth. Alas, I had a date with another artist…

What a difference 2 hours make. Earlier, Resin Moon’s set at Heya Bar was dreamily sleepy, and I didn’t mind it, as it’s nice to be able to sway to your fave electronic music without having the umpteenth person invade your personal space. No such luck upon my return to the club. I guess if you’re an extremely extroverted person who enjoys being squished up in a crowd while you’re dancing, this would have been your idea of heaven? Yes, I am a funny one when it comes to dance parties.

Willaris K., who described at an interview on Friday that he was from a tiny town on the border between Queensland and New South Wales, was up on the decks. When I finally was able to squeeze my body into the main room, I could barely make him out from his pedestal in the corner of the club. This didn’t matter much since I could hear everything he was doing. It was obvious from the gyrating clubgoers around me that were simultaneously in ecstasy over the beats, while simultaneously trying to secure their patch of real estate on the floor.

Unlike the big names in EDM that tend to make electronic music cold to a lot of people, Willaris K. is one of several rising stars coming up keen in doing something different, making interesting and unexpected sounds and turning what used to be pretty predictable electro on its head. In my interview with Willaris K. coming soon to TGTF, he’ll explain more on his songcraft and how important it was to him to hone this craft. At this point, all you really need to know – and what I hope will encourage you to investigate his music further – is that he’s intelligent about how to write and put an electronic song together, taking ambient music to another level with mood and texture. It’s impossible to put his music into words further, so check out his debut track ‘Alchemy’ below.

Back to the Woolly Mammoth’s downstairs Alehouse stage, this time for local young wonder Yoste, which supposedly rhymes with ‘lost’ according to his Twitter. Unlike Dave Bayley of Glass Animals who never managed to complete his medical degree, Kurt Sines just completed his law degree 2 months before this BIGSOUND, and I guess he can actually practise law once he passes the bar. However, just like Bayley, he’d much rather do music and hopes his current musical project will lead to a sustainable career.

Yoste Wednesday night at BIGSOUND 2017

And who’s to stop him, when he can put out some truly stunning pieces of electronic with emotion, cool as a spare finger snap, and at such a young age? The guy’s got serious talent on guitar and synth, as he proves through the rework below of a beloved Vera Blue track that the Yoste touch is golden. As a general rule, I don’t like falsetto, though I suspect Sines will be up there with Hayden Thorpe (Wild Beasts) and Jonathan Higgs (Everything Everything) soon enough if he keeps the quality of his tunes up. Despite an issue with a laptop acting up (who knew that laptops had to be fixed at a certain height to work properly onstage? Is this an Aussie thing?) and some difficulty with some annoying feedback crunches that shouldn’t be there, Sines got through it like a seasoned performer.

If you’ve done any research over the last few years for indie synthpop bands from Australia, Mansionair were sure to have come up at the top of your search. I know they did for me when they first came out to SXSW in 2015, the year after they released their ‘Hold Me Down’ EP. Earlier this year, they guested on Seattle duo and fellow synthpop act ODESZA, and there’s an air of anticipation hearing that they’ve finished an album and we won’t have long to wait to hear it. Well, that’s me being hopeful!


Mansionair Wednesday night at BIGSOUND 2017

While I was heartbroken I wasn’t able to fit them in on their return visit to Austin this year, I felt like I had a lucky star shining down on me so I could see them at BIGSOUND instead. It’s very special to cover a band in their home country, and so was seeing Mansionair in front of their local and very devoted fans. Many acts performing at this year’s festival were still in their early days of being an artist or group, only now just starting to find their feet. With all their gigging experience up to this point under their belts, Mansionair showed everyone how it’s done.

Their single ‘Easier’, released last year, is a prime example of this. Lead singer Jack Froggatt’s heart-wrenching lyrics on the sense of frustration that you’re going nowhere fast, with nowhere to go, is such a universal feeling, one of isolation and failure. They wrote it to be inspirational, to give hope that things do get better. Having been through some pretty dark days myself, a song like this is like an anchor for those days when you feel afloat with no mooring. The fact that Mansionair can convey such feelings, using such a beguiling combination of beats, synths and guitars to heighten the emotion, it’s like magic.

 
 
 

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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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