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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 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.


 

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]

 

TGTF X BIGSOUND 2017 Playlist: Focus on Showcasing Brisbane Bands

 
By on Thursday, 17th August 2017 at 11:00 am
 

Ahead of my first time at BIGSOUND, I thought it would be a nice gesture to celebrate the city that hosts this fabulous event every year. And what better way is there to pay it forward, then, to shine a light on the artists who call the Queensland capital home?

You might be asking yourself what kind of great music is coming out of down under. Queensland, in the northwestern part of Australia, has been the birthplace of quite a few bands you’ve heard of but perhaps might not have known have come from there. The Go-Betweens and Violent Soho (rock) and Savage Garden and The Veronicas (pop), ring any bells? Going off just those four names, it’s no surprise that there will be strong representatives in both these genres from the Sunshine State.

Sloan Peterson has already caught the eyes and ears of bloggers this side of the Pacific with her in-your-face single ‘Rats’. If you’re interested in shoegazey, slacker rock, Good Boy are your band. I wouldn’t be surprised if they got signed to Heavenly Records at some point soon. SXSW alums The Creases offer up more straightforward rock, but in a bombastic style. In the mood for something for something harder that will make your heartbeat race and make you lift your fists? Check out Driven Fear, The Comfort (male-fronted) and WAAX (female-fronted). Or maybe you want something that’s a little bit different. If so, the funk of Osaka Punch or the WTF-ery of WHALEHOUSE might be more your bag.

As we all know (and some of us lament at times), pop and r&b these days are pretty much intertwined. Depending on who you talk to, this is owing to the rise is popularity of hip-hop. Close your eyes, and the minimalist r&b vibe of Isabel sounds awfully like Lorde. Girl duo OKBADLANDS have perfected a nice blend of pop and soul, demonstrated nicely in new single ‘Mineral’. Aurelia and Miss Blanks are up-and-coming solo artists, the former embracing a more pop backing with an ephemeral vocal, while the latter serves up a more straightforward, beat-driven hip-hop sound. Originally from Fiji, Jesswar is another rapper calling Brisbane home, having already toured with the likes of Lady Leshurr and Akala.Golden Vessel is young producer Max Byrne: essentially, his music is electronic dance but with the addition of singers you’ve heard of like Woodes and now OKBADLANDS, his tracks bridge the gap between more cerebral electronic and pop.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGHUXd177oc[/youtube]

Speaking of electronic music, Australia’s music industry has been absolutely booming in this genre. This proliferation of electronic acts out of Oz required The Aussie BBQ at SXSW 2017 this year to expand to another full afternoon of electronic-specific programming to accommodate all their artists. The soulful, synth-driven pop of Cub Sport will be delectable at BIGSOUND 2017, while the dreaminess of Yoste’s tunes will provide much needed chill. As genres continue to blur year after year, it’s not surprising to see a performer like Machine Age come to the surface. A guitarist not shy to use a “sampler and other gadgets”, he’s able to churn out electronic (‘Don’t Look’) and ‘Chivalry’ (rock) masterpieces.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2ecih4hTn8[/youtube]

Are you into more conventional guy or girl with a guitar setups? Brisbane has those too. The stripped-back, autobiographical style of Emerson Snowe puts him well in the running to becoming the happier and Aussie version of Conor Oberst. Hearing the voice of Clea, it’s unsurprising she counts Laura Marling as one of her influences. His name makes it sound like he would be feel more at home at HWCH, but Sydney transplant Paddy McHugh is an Aussie through and through. Like Frank Turner, his musical roots began in punk, but he’s now a no-holds-barred kind of singer/songwriter. Keen for a richer sound via an act with more band members? The country rock Suicide Swans will fit the bill.

Influential government-funded radio station triple j have also pledged to bring attention to up-and-coming Brisbane acts, selecting three from a pool of local talent. Carmouflage Rose (hip-hop), Holiday Party (pop) and Nice Biscuit (rock) will perform at the triple j Unearthed stage at the venue Oh Hello! The full lineups for triple j’s three nights of music are listed here on Oh Hello!’s Facebook.

Check out the playlist I put together of all these artists below. The artists mentioned in this post and included in the playlist are those who are either from or currently are based in Brisbane and appear on the first or second lists of artists scheduled to perform at BIGSOUND 2017. To read my previous preview post on BIGSOUND 2017, 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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