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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.

 

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.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3K9E3avjWQ[/youtube]

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.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5azpjwl5jiM[/youtube]

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.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMbhQuNSsvY[/youtube]

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.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlQfX44tpBU[/youtube]

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.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=russvSdlbd0[/youtube]

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.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghnjAV1GZdk[/youtube]

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.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCUZfmF8ko4[/youtube]

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.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PW29qdUxIE[/youtube]

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.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7n4ZJidgaXg[/youtube]

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.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOBkeMDStDw[/youtube]

 
 
 

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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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