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Live review: BIGSOUND Live – Brisbane – Night three (5/9/19)

With livers running at 200% capacity and the memories of a normal routine feeling distant and fuzzy, it’s time to dust ourselves off and give it another crack at Bigsound’s third official night of live music.

First up at Crowbar Black is Towns, playing their twelfth show since Saturday. The Adelaide duo immediately set the scene for a tip-top evening with a charismatic, funny and skilful set of punk/pop/rock numbers. “I’m so fucking happy!” says frontman Aston Valadares, grinning ear to ear, before throwing a bunch of t-shirts into the audience, Oprah-style. A medley of television themes, including ‘Home and Away’, ‘Round the Twist, ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ and ‘Friends’ provide a fun counterpoint to their admittedly “little sad” track, ‘Bleach’.

towns bigsound live brisbane 2019
Towns

Over at Black Bear Lodge, Sunbeam Sound Machine’s Nick Sowersby and his band are making a gentler, more blissed-out sound, including tracks from new record, ‘Goodness Gracious’. ‘Talking Distance’ goes over particularly well in a venue that is perfect for the intimate feel of the group’s music.

At the Elephant, Reliqa vocalist Monique Pym is more into demanding intimacy from her enthusiastic audience. “Tell someone you love them – the person right next to you!” she suggests, to awkward glances from strangers taking in the Gosford collective. Pym is a powerhouse of energy with a towering voice that must place Reliqa as one of the most exciting young metal bands in the country.

Reliqa Bigsound Live Brisbane 2019
Reliqa

Mermaidens are certainly not the demanding types at the Ivory Tusk, saying they “don’t want to get in trouble” if they play over their timeslot, although they do mention their new album being out tomorrow (6th September) several times. They do exactly as their bio describes, and do it extremely well – all dreamy vocals, hypnotic guitars and more charm than you can poke your hangover at.

Mermaidens Bigsound Live Brisbane 2019
Mermaidens

At the Outpost, Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers are simultaneously expressing their gratitude for the presence of a sizeable crowd, generating considerable industry buzz, displaying their Canberra home-town pride and playing a collection of rock and alternative numbers like its some of the best parts of the ’90s all over again. ‘I Like That You Like That’ is their best song and marks them as serious contenders.

Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers bigsound live brisbane 2019
Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers

Following a solid first-night show, the draw towards Laura Imbruglia at Black Bear Lodge is almost irresistible, and going against some imagined principle/protocol/ethic/whatever of Bigsound and seeing the same artist twice suddenly doesn’t seem in any way criminal. The Melburnian and her band, the Bin Chickens, are, quite simply, a class act. ‘Tricks’ and ‘Carry You Around’ allow lead guitarist Alex MacRae to flex his considerable chops as the quartet settle into a potent groove for another evening-winning set.

Laura Imbruglia Bigsound Live Brisbane 2019
Laura Imbruglia and the Bin Chickens

What a bloody great three nights of live music.

For Scenestr

Live review: BIGSOUND Live – Brisbane – Night two (4/9/19)

Dusting off hangovers, minor/major exhaustion and the shadow of day jobs brings the second night of BIGSOUND back into focus, and with another outstanding line-up of bands to get the teeth into, the appetite is big for night two of the showcase.

First up at Crowbar is Sydney quartet The Buoys, who blast through a high-octane, “emotional rollercoaster” of a set, with frontwoman Zoe Catterall getting among the audience and getting into the mood by snagging a bite from a punter’s Bloody Mary celery stick between bouts of highly impressive shredding.

The Buoys Brisbane Bigsound 2019
The Buoys

Over at Ric’s, Egyptian-Australian Mariam Sawires is impressing in a somewhat more serene fashion; her voice on songs like ‘Together’ – inspired by missing her sister when living in Japan – soars high and marks the nomad vocalist as not only one to watch, but probably deserving of a classier setting than the milk-crate-adorned surrounds of the beloved Valley venue.

Mariam Sawires Bigsound Brisbane 2019
Mariam Sawires

Meanwhile, at The Wickham, Sydney rap queen Lauren. riles up an enthusiastic audience by getting in their face before claiming, “I only smoked one bong today!” to a huge roar of appreciation.

Lauren Bigsound Brisbane 2019
Lauren

At the Brightside, Brisbane’s First Beige have packed out the room and melt into an instantly engaging jam, including a guest trumpeter, while at the Elephant’s crammed back bar, English quartet The Amazons run through a set of polished pop tunes on their first ever Australian gig, and Ainsley Farrell is winning hearts and minds with a classy, lilting and uplifting set at Black Bear Lodge, including new track ‘Dark Spell’.

First Beige Bigsound Brisbane 2019
First Beige

Downstairs at Crowbar, Melbourne metallers Outright are loudly-and-proudly anything but polished, with powerhouse singer Jelena Goluza taking the classic foot-on-monitor stance between explosions of noise, before Sydney post-punk outfit 100 put in a solid and loose shift in front of an appreciative audience.

100 Bigsound Live Brisbane 2019
100

Seeing Mambali – from Numbulwar in the Northern Territory – is the perfect way to finish the evening; the Indigenous collective play an exciting, captivating show to a wildly engaged crowd as the evening draws to a close.

Mambali Brisbane Bigsound 2019
Mambali

Is anyone ready to pass out yet?

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Live review: BIGSOUND Live – Brisbane – Night one (3/9/19)

Like Christmas, your birthday, or the dread of filling out another tax return, BIGSOUND rolls around again in no time; although it’s significantly more welcome milestone than many.

First up at Crowbar, singer-guitarist Siobhan Poynton introduces Scabz as “the shittest band at BIGSOUND” before opener ‘What You Stand For’ – a song about Anthony Albanese and false promises. “Told you we were shit,” she follows – a patently untrue statement. ‘Brett Lee’s Got no ID (And He Can’t Get Into World Bar)’ tells the story of Poynton’s encounter with the cricketer at a former place of work; a close call as he “likes Tony Abbott”, as it turns out.

Scabz Bigsound Brisbane 2019
Scabz

Over at Woolly Mammoth, Concrete Surfers are conducting a more polite, but equally impressive and somewhat ramshackle, affair. “We’re here to hopefully rock your socks off,” claims frontman Jovi Brook, softly, while bassist Trent Courtenay – looking like the throttled young caddie from ‘Happy Gilmore’ – slaps his instrument like a master.

Concrete Surfers Bigsound Brisbane 2019
Concrete Surfers

Only a lucky handful of people are present to witness Black Rock Band at the Woolly Mammoth, and what a delight they are treated to by the West Arnhem collective. They aren’t the only band giving an acknowledgement of country tonight, which is encouraging to see and hear, but are likely the only singing in Kunwinjku – addressing both a depth of cultural and social issues and making a rapidly growing audience dance their asses off, too.

Black Rock Band Bigsound Brisbane 2019
Black Rock Band

Reija Lee, playing outside at The Wickham, promises to “amp it up a little” at the beginning of her set. The musical chameleon delivers a varied collection of pop and electro numbers, switching between bass and vocals and winning over a seated audience in no time at all. Her voice and performance deserves a bigger stage.

Reija Lee Brisbane Bigsound 2019
Reija Lee

Over at The Foundry, Dianas are shaking the walls with the tightest performance so far this evening – the Melbourne-via-Perth group make a hell of a sound for a trio, despite complaints of an incredibly sticky stage. Powerhouse drummer Anetta Nevin steals the show with a skin-thumping masterclass, leaving her kit beaten and defeated as the cymbals ring out on the final tune.

Dianas Brisbane Bigsound 2019
Dianas

At The Zoo, Laura Imbruglia and her band the Bin Chickens immediately prove to be the best act of the evening so far as they run through songs from new album, ‘Scared of You’. Opener ‘Tricks’ and follow-up ‘Carry You Around’ set the tone for a classy, skilful set that looks like it will be hard to top this year.

Laura Imbruglia Bigsound 2019 Brisbane
Laura Imbruglia and the Bin Chickens

BIGSOUND veterans Bad//Dreems go about their business with the loose, vaguely off-kilter aesthetic they are known and loved for, playing songs from their upcoming third album, including new tune ‘Piss Christ’. Older tracks ‘My Only Friend’ and ‘Mob Rule’ still sit well among the new songs, while “oldie but a garibaldi” (frontman Ben Marwe’s words) ‘Hoping For’ remains some of their finest work.

Bad/Dreems Bigsound Brisbane 2019
Bad//Dreems

Approachable Members of Your Local Community are the perfect end to the evening at the Ivory Tusk. The “deep south” Melbourne quartet, dressed in ludicrous, matching red Adidas shirts and shorts, are fun, upbeat and silly in all the best ways. New track ‘The Internet’ sounds like a winner while ‘Semiotic Vision’ is perhaps their best song, but it’s the performance that makes it a killer show.

Approachable Members of Your Local Community Bigsound Brisbane 2019
Approachable Members of Your Local Community

Bring on nights two, three and four.

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Live review: BIGSOUND Live – Fortitude Valley, Brisbane – 9th and 10th September 2015

Wednesday 9th

BIGSOUND? More like bloody massive sound. Whatever the next level up from ‘embarrassment of riches’ is, QMusic have pulled it out of the bag in 2015. With 150 bands on 15 stages over two nights, BIGSOUND Live is the metaphorical all-you-can-eat buffet of emerging Australian musical talent. The only problem with having so many options is the effort it takes to suppress your FOMO when working out a schedule for the evening.

The first stop for this reviewer also proved to be perhaps the most brutal of the night at Crowbar. “We’re Jack the Stripper,” announced frontman Luke Frizon amidst a barrage of machine-gun kick drums and savage riffs, before scrambling over the railing and getting among his audience, which has doubled in size in the space of a minute, as his band’s guitarist spits beer over everything within a few metres radius. The quintet’s brand of merciless metal blows the cobwebs away and puts the eardrums on edge for the night ahead.

Jack the Stripper Bigsound
Jack the Stripper

Over at the Zoo, Sydney’s Big White are equally impressive, albeit in a more jangly, indie-pop way. Their guitar-pop is innocent but intense, and laced with melodies to die for.

Big White Bigsound
Big White

Tucked away in Winn Lane, there is a palpable buzz in the air as well as in the name of the largely unknown, but most exciting act of the night so far, Green Buzzard. With the floppiest of hair and finest of equipment the quintet give a first impression of being like Peace but with talent, and frontman Patrick Harrowsmith has undoubted shades of Tim Burgess and Ian Brown. “This is pretty cool for a Tuesday, no – Wednesday,” says their bass player to an audience too laidback to get into it. Expect big things from these lads.

Green Buzzard Bigsound
Green Buzzard

Back at the Elephant, Melbourne’s Pearls are handing out a lesson in cool to a large and eager audience. A final flourish with their single ‘Big Shot’ is an excellent way to go out with a bang, before Perth’s Methyl Ethyl enjoy a similarly-sized amount of adulation before a smoke-hazed crowd.

Pearls Bigsound
Pearls

As the air chills and the evening is well and truly broken in, Ella Thompson takes to the stage at the Brightside’s outdoor area with the voice of the night, hell; the voice of ANY night. The first of two performances from the talented Melburnian over two nights, prior to Dorsal Fins’ Thursday showcase, this over-too-soon set only reinforces the fact Thompson possesses one of the best and most soulful pop voices in the country. Songs from her debut album Janus, including second track ‘Drift’ sound, quite simply, divine.

Ella Thompson Bigsound
Ella Thompson

The atmosphere is Rics is thick with hype and brooding talent as Melbourne quartet Gold Class put in a masterclass of post-punk intensity and smart rock. With an unmistakeable whiff of Joy Division and a Soviet-era fashion sense, the band put in the best performance of the evening to surely win many new fans and mark themselves as serious new contenders.

Gold Class Bigsound
Gold Class

Not-so-new contenders Cosmic Psychos, meanwhile, are putting smiles on the faces of everyone watching their outstandingly raucous garage and punk show at the New Globe. As an inflatable doll is thrown around the front rows and Ross Knight announces “It’s a Wednesday – every day is a good day to go to the pub,” the band kick into ‘Nice Day to Go to the Pub’, and a mighty climax is reached for many punters’ first night of BIGSOUND.

Cosmic Psychos Bigsound
Cosmic Psychos

One last showcase can be fitted in for this reviewer, however, and it comes in the form of Le Pie at the Press Club. With a head adorned with flowers and socks pulled to knee height, the diminutive singer and her band find it hard to fill 30 minutes, but with toes dipped in pop, punk and soul, the Newtown singer shows enough talent and promise to earn a rousing and well-deserved reception from a grateful audience.

Le Pie Bigsound
Le Pie

As usual, BIGSOUND Live has delivered, most especially in the form of standouts Ella Thompson and Gold Class. May the merciful, sweet hangover gods spare our souls as we aim to do it all again tonight.

Thursday 10th

With hangovers supressed and a renewed skip in our step, we took to the streets of Fortitude Valley for another round of whatever BIGSOUND Live could throw at us.

At the Zoo, Sydney’s I Know Leopard provide a rousing beginning to the evening with a set of high energy indie-rock gems that show why the hype surrounding the band is so great. Single ‘Close My Eyes’, from a new EP released today, sounds particularly good, as does the mammoth finish with ‘Perfect Picture’.

I Know Leopard Bigsound
I Know Leopard

Over at the Brightside, Melbourne’s Dorsal Fins turn the car park area into an eighties dance party; the band’s nine members exude as much joy from one set as a dozen bands put together. ‘Mind Renovation’ is the perfect place to start, and while singer Ella Thompson remains the major talent of the band, it’s the collective sense of fun that makes their show so appealing.

Dorsal Fins Bigsound
Dorsal Fins

Meanwhile, at the New Globe, Sydney ambient rockers Dumbsaint aren’t in the business of fun. Their brand of rock is even more dark and intense live than it is on record, and is enough to hold an audience entranced despite a ‘clusterfuck’ of technical difficulties, as drummer Nick Andrews puts it. The quartet should consider their showcase well and truly nailed.

Dumbsaint Bigsound
Dumbsaint

At Rics, Jonny Telafone takes barely one song to remove his shirt and expose his dadbod to an audience which laps up his electro-ambient, post-apocalyptic R‘n’B silliness. The Melbourne-based singer is perhaps one of the least known acts on the BIGSOUND bill, but will have gained plenty of deserved attention after tonight. Have a listen to ‘The Prayer’ and take your top off – go on, it feels good.

Jonny Telafone Bigsound
Jonny Telafone

At Oh! Hello, Melbourne rapper Baro shows why he is one of the most exciting new talents in Australian rap and Hip Hop, amid repeated demands to “make some motherfuckin’ noise” and uniform arm-waving with an engaged crowd. Closer ‘Resume’ provides a mighty climax and leaves this reviewer in awe of the talent possessed by a guy who is still only 18. Highlight of the night.

Baro Bigsound
Baro

Brisbane indie-pop darlings Major Leagues have drawn a big crowd at the Wooly Mammoth, and it’s easy to see why; their tunes are still as infectious and poised as ever. The quartet are, by now, veterans of BIGSOUND and take their chance to air new single ‘Someone Sometime’ in a set which goes down well.

Trying to get close enough to the Brightside stage to see JOY is a thoroughly pointless act, so the destination is Rics once more to catch Us the Band, who are thrashing out a couple of final tracks of high-octane garage-punk.

Us the Band Bigsound
Us the Band

It’s up to Byron Bay’s wonderfully ramshackle Skegss to round off the evening’s entertainment in front of their homemade banner reading ‘Skegss – the worst band eva!’ Their set is ramshackle and great fun, and while the band are certainly not the worst ever, they are perhaps the loosest on show tonight – in a good way.

Skegss Bigsound
Skegss

And so, the curtain falls on another BIGSOUND Live, and QMusic should be congratulated yet again for a bloody cracking job. Highlights for this reviewer included Baro, I Know Leopard, Gold Class and Ella Thompson. Now, just give me a bed and don’t bother me for several days.

For Scenestr

Live review: BIGSOUND Live – Brisbane – 11/9/14

holy holy

FOR the second night in a row, Oh Hello! is the place to be to kick off BIGSOUND Live, as Brisbane quintet WAAX bring an early dose of bluesy psych-rock with plenty of big riffs and bite to get the evening started. Frontwoman Marie DeVita has just the right amounts of snarl and throaty vocals combined with a slightly unhinged stage presence to make her one of the most engaging singers on show over the two nights.

One of those fantastic BIGSOUND Live surprises comes next, as Dunedin trio Males come close to obliterating the eardrums of everyone packed into Ric’s Bar, with an outstanding show of powerhouse, sweat-drenched drumming from Paul ‘Pipsy’ McMillan being worth the ticket price alone. This band deserves mountains of attention.

What happens next at Black Bear Lodge is a much more serene affair, with Melbourne’s Fraser A. Gorman knocking out mellow moods with plenty of boyish charm and big grins. His proclamation of “I hope everyone’s going to hit the tubs tonight super hard, because I fucking am” gets a big response.

Over at The Rev, Adelaide’s Jimblah is putting everything into his performance despite a fairly static audience, and next door at The Brightside Tkay Maidza has drawn just about every industry figure to her show; the diminutive South Australian opening with ‘Arm Up’, complete with searing synths.

With times running over at The Elephant, a vast horde of Holy Holy fans are treated to the last few songs of electro-poppers Coach Bombay, including their final track ‘Girls’, before the Brisbane lads themselves take to the stage after a quick changeover and instantly bring a touch of class to proceedings with the opening duo of ‘History’ and ‘If I Were You’.

The small number of punters packed into the Underdog to see Flyying Colours can consider themselves lucky, as the Melbourne psych-rock/shoegaze quartet put on a fantastically absorbing and colourful show, complete with colourful language on the subject of Peter Garrett’s abilities as a member of parliament. Their latest single ‘Not Today’ is well worth checking out, based on this performance.

flyying colours

Despite having been away from the spotlight for what seems like a long time, Brisbane’s Art of Sleeping sound like a band on top form. Frontman Caleb Hodges assures the large gathering that they have been working on new material, although the band’s ‘old’ material still sounds fresh.

To finish off the night, it had to be Melbourne’s The Bennies at the New Globe Theatre. Frontman Anty had been prancing around the Valley in gold spandex trousers all night, before taking to the stage and bringing the party vibes in abundance. After expressing his disappointment with the music industry for not having yet been offered any cocaine, he leaps around the stage shouting “let’s take cocaine and pingers and go fucking apeshit!” Good idea, Anty. Well played, everyone.

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Live review: BIGSOUND Live – Brisbane – 10/9/14

kingswood

PERHAPS it’s appropriate that the first song I hear at BIGSOUND Live 2014 is ‘Get On Your Horse’ by The Furrs at Oh Hello! It’s an appropriately-named kickstart to another night of top drawer Australian music across a multitude of stages and hidey-holes in the Valley.

After that start, the trek to the Zoo is punctuated by a short stop at the Press Club to catch All Our Exes Live In Texas; the folky Sydney quartet sounding like perhaps the most elegant act on show anywhere here tonight.

You wouldn’t call Steve Smyth an elegant performer, but he’s all the better for it. The impressively-moustachioed Sydneysider’s sweat sprays off in fountains as he throws his Gibson and himself around the Zoo’s stage, with new song ‘Shake It’ being a particular highlight among many great tracks.

Over at the Brightside, Adelaide’s Bad//Dreems show why they’re one of the most hyped acts of this year’s BIGSOUND, as they power through a rip-roaring set of songs from their EP and upcoming debut album. A cover of The Replacements’ ‘Bastards of Young’ is the perfect setup to closer ‘Dumb Ideas’, as the quartet steal the show for tonight.

bad//dreems

Following Bad//Dreems is another hyped act, the Britpop-heavy DMA’s, who finish with their sing-along epic ‘Delete’ to a massive response. At the same time, in the darkened cavern of Alhambra Lounge, Melburnians Lurch & Chief are making an unholy racket in all the best ways, with ‘We Are The Same’ being the standout.

At the Rev in Warner Street, a much more chilled vibe is apparent, as Melbourne’s Martha Brown – aka Banoffee – is going solo with a set of cool r ‘n’ b and synth numbers in an enticingly air-conditioned environment.

Every BIGSOUND night needs a big finish, and this time it’s provided by Kingswood. The Melbourne rockers are flying high, having just released their excellent debut album Microscopic Wars. Despite teasing a few bars of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and playing the intro to QOTSA’s ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’ after calling for the BIGSOUND delegates to “get your hands in the air”, it’s their own ‘Ohio’ that provides the massive close. What a night.

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Steve Kilbey of The Church: “You can’t take journalists on”

the church

“YOU can’t take journalists on, because they have the last word. Like, if I was to really piss you off now and be really arrogant, rude and horrible, you’re going to be the one writing ‘Kilbey’s a cunt, I wouldn’t go see his fucking band at BIGSOUND’”.

This is just a sample of the type of industry advice to expect from The Church frontman Steve Kilbey, who will appear at the BIGSOUND conference as a keynote speaker with his band. Not that he’s fully sure what his role will be as yet, as becomes clear when he is asked what he expects to be speaking about.

“I don’t fucking know,” he says. “People are going to be asking me questions, aren’t they? Isn’t that how it works? I know I’m on a panel with The Church, and we sit there and field questions from the audience, and then I’m going to be on a panel with my manager and field questions about managers and artists, then I’m going to play a thirty-minute gig. I’m supposed to give you some bullshit now, but really someone said ‘hey, do you want The Church to be at BIGSOUND?’ I didn’t even know what BIGSOUND was and I was like ‘I don’t know. Yeah, I guess so.’ Some people whose advice I trust said I should go and do this and it’d be good. Everyone is saying it’s really good; I don’t really know anything about it. I’m just kind of wandering in, hoping to make the best of whatever happens to be there.”

After some initial prickliness, the 59 year-old singer and bassist becomes increasingly garrulous, self-deprecating and funny over the course of a twenty-minute interview, as he talks about his time in the music business, the benefit of hindsight and a recent change to The Church’s line-up.

“I suppose people will ask about longevity and why Marty [Willson-Piper] left and why Ian Haug joined, what our new album is like and what are the perils and pitfalls one should avoid and all that,” he says. “These are the sort of things you could ask an old seasoned trooper who has been around the tracks a few times.”

[At this point Kilbey points out that he doesn’t think he should be asked questions that might crop up at BIGSOUND, but relents when it’s pointed out that an article is being written about him, thus a requirement exists for him to say something. The floodgates then open and don’t close for fifteen minutes. Better get comfortable.]

“Alright: perils and pitfalls for musicians,” he says. “The business itself is set up – [or was] in my day at least – to take advantage of the types who could play music and knew about writing songs and stuff, but when it came to percentages and deals and someone looking after your money and all that, you just signed the contract without reading it. Also, being too emotional with the other guys in the band; taking it all out on them. I wish I had thought a lot of the time before saying things.

“I suppose walking that fine line between being successful and doing what you should be doing yourself; trying to hit that sweet spot between doing what you want to do and being successful as well – it’s hard to get that balance right. You can easily fall off that fine line and find yourself doing what you want to do and nobody is listening to it, or you can have success and it’s not the success you want to have, and it’s only going to be short-lived as there’s nothing really holding it up. Unless you’re massively successful like The Eagles or something, who can do whatever they like, to have a long career you have to try to please yourself while looking out there to see if anyone else is being pleased as well. Not living completely in the vacuum, but not folding or throwing in your hand every time you get a bad review or go through a couple of years where everyone’s ignoring you and it seems like things have plateaued. It’s all about hanging in there doggedly.

“I’ve been writing my memoirs and there have been a couple of points in the road where we quite patently did the wrong thing. Pissing off a couple of very important journalists – one in England and one in South America – by being flippant and stupid and stuff; things like that can stop your career dead. [The English journalist we upset] was a guy called Steve Sutherland. In the beginning he was our champion. This often happens with journalists – they start off as cub reporters and they write gushing reviews about you, then a few years in when they’re cleaning out their wardrobe and having a bit of a purge, it’s like a right of passage for them to start going ‘oh, this band didn’t really turn out like I’d hoped’.

“Sutherland seemed to get his hands on every one of our records from then on and give them bad reviews. He gave an album called Heyday a bad review, and it didn’t deserve a bad review because it was a great record. He compared it unfavourably to a whole bunch of English bands like Big Country and stuff like that. We were going to have the front cover of Melody Maker and this guy turned up and I fucking gave him what for; I kind of almost physically threatened him. I thought it would work, that he would put us on the cover with some story about how Kilbey tore him apart, but what he did was nothing. There was no article. I remembered that when I was raving on to him he had this smug look on his face that said ‘you can say whatever you like, because now there’s not going to be an article’.

“If the guy had just turned up and I had pretended like I hadn’t read all these bad reviews, which I can still almost quote verbatim, we would have been on the front page of Melody Maker and he might have reanointed us. I stupidly thought I could take him on, and you can’t take journalists on, because they have the last word. Like, if I was to really piss you off now and be really arrogant, rude and horrible, you’re going to be the one writing ‘Kilbey’s a cunt, I wouldn’t go see his fucking band at BIGSOUND’. At the time, I thought they were battles I could win, before realising that they aren’t.

“At the start, I was just a naive idiot who could play bass guitar, sing a little bit and write songs, and suddenly I had all these other jobs like being a leader of men. I had three other guys in my group and had to keep them under control and I had to do interviews, meet people, and be this and be that. You put one foot wrong out there and it can be all over. I’ve been lucky to have got second and third chances; I blew it tons of times with my big mouth, drug addictions, indiscretions and hopeless gigs when I turned up ill-prepared. You have to keep your eye on the ball the whole time; I don’t think as many people get as lucky as me. A lot of it is luck or simply being in the right place at the right time, and there’s something about that factor that nobody can ever manipulate or anticipate. Where is the right time? Where is the right place? Every portal that is used to get into the music business; once it’s used, it’s normally gone.

“Take The Arctic Monkeys – they did it all on MySpace, and suddenly there’s a zillion bands on MySpace, but it’s too late, you know? There are ways to get in, but my story won’t be a story that anyone can emulate, because even if things hadn’t changed and the business is exactly the same, the way it happened for me won’t be the way it happens for anyone else. Just like the way it happened for Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wasn’t the way it happened for me, Iggy Izalea and blah, blah, blah. You’ve got to make your own luck, persevere and be resilient.

“[The music industry] is not a place for the faint-hearted and you can’t have too thin a skin, which is somewhat of a paradox for someone like me. To write all the songs I’ve written, I’ve had to be thin-skinned as [song-writing] requires a certain amount of vulnerability and thin-skinned-ness. Then, to read reviews where people are saying [your record is] the worst record they’ve ever heard, you have to be able to go ‘fuck you! I don’t believe you.’ You’ve got to be good at so many different things.

“In the beginning I was good at song-writing, not that good at playing bass, certainly not that good a singer, I was a lousy leader of men and I had everybody in the band upset. It’s a bit like being a father; I tried the strict approach and they hated me, and I tried the lenient approach and they walked all over me. That’s what being a band leader is like. When you’re like me, you’ve constantly got to be readjusting your course as you sail across the sea, moving from left to right, dodging whales and sharks and other boats, then when the wind is right you make the most of it. You’re always on your toes when you’re still relying on it to make a living.

While the by-now energetic Kilbey pauses for breath, the conversation is steered towards the future for The Church, and the band’s upcoming new album – their first since 2009.

“[Ian Haug] is an incredible, powerful guitarist,” he says. “He’s brought a lot of enthusiasm, happiness and a kind of willingness to work and make it succeed. I think he rejuvenated the other three guys; having someone whose relatively a spring chicken compared to me has helped. The first day I turned up to write a song with him I was very nervous because I had asked him into the band off my own bat; I didn’t even ask [the others]. When I turned up at Ian’s studio outside Brisbane we wrote a song within about five minutes had written the song that now closes the album. We immediately established a working pattern.

“I’m not sure how Powderfinger used to write songs, but Ian immediately fell into our way of writing, which is to fiddle around and then suddenly find something we like. He didn’t seem to have to learn the method; I’ve seen other people very confused by that method and want things already formed. When we made the album, he was just an endless source of material. It’s not like the three of us and him just hanging on there – Ian’s directly responsible for a lot of the songs. As you would expect for someone who was the guitarist in Australia’s biggest ever bands, Ian came loaded with assets and so far I can’t complain about one thing he’s done.

“I guess his status is now the other guitarist in The Church, until something changes, because it’s just a rock and roll band, and if he’s had enough or something goes wrong then so be it. Plus we’re all getting pretty old, so someone is probably going to drop off the perch and that’ll be the end of the whole thing.”

THE CHURCH APPEAR AS KEYNOTE SPEAKERS AT BIGSOUND SEP 11 AT 10AM.

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Record review: Clowns – I’m Not Right (2013 LP)

Clowns

Finding myself at a loss for which band to check out next at the recent BIGSOUND festival in Brisbane, I sauntered into Ric’s Bar where several hairy young men were readying to play. Thirty minutes later, after an intense onslaught of hardcore riffs and throat-shredding vocals, my state of mind could best be described by one the band’s songs: ‘Oh F_ck, My Face’. That band was Melbourne hardcore/punk quartet Clowns, and my semi-melted mug and fragile eardrums haven’t quite been the same since. I’m Not Right is their debut album, and it packs a punch in a similar fashion to that of The Bronx or Black Flag; all sweaty, beer-soaked hardcore and barely-restrained punk aggression. Movie nerds will notice a sound-bite of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper’s voice from ’80s cult flick They Live in 55-second opener ‘Awake’, before ‘Grave Junkie’ explodes with a savagery that is maintained for the rest of the twelve tracks. The album title is probably more autobiographical than is initially apparent, as the lyrics detail subjects like horse tranquillisers, acid, and various powders, and being an outsider on a daily basis, or “every day I wake up late, surround by the same old sh_t,” as the lyrics go on ‘Sheep in Black’. With song titles like ‘Eat A Gun’, ‘Jesus on Acid’, and ‘Rat’, this isn’t going to be an album you’ll play at your granny’s birthday party, but it’s a kick-ass collection of international-quality hardcore and punk that should come with a warning: must be played LOUD. (Poison City Records)

Live review: BIGSOUND Live 2013 – Brisbane – Paul McBride

Mining Boom
Mining Boom

Trying to remember everything that happened at BIGSOUND Live 2013 is like trying to pee with an extreme case of stage-fright; you just gotta persevere until you get it all out. When the moment of sweet, glorious relief comes, a million sweat-drenched, beer-stained memories pour out at a rate quicker than Bakery Lane filled up in the minutes before Billy Bragg hit the stage. Here are at least some of mine, mostly unsullied by the passage of time.

Forget all the industry shenanigans, the free tote bags covered in corporate logos, the lanyard-wearing, glassy-eyed matronly types who look like they haven’t been to a gig since Led Zep were last in town, the live section of BIGSOUND is – and always will be – about the bands, and there is no shortage of fine examples to sink our teeth into this time around.

Looking at the program for Wednesday evening, one name leaps out immediately: The Delta Riggs. Having seen them four or five times before, I’m keen to maybe give them a miss this time and check out someone new; perhaps Patrick James or Mama Kin – that being the whole point of BIGSOUND Live. But after procuring my blue wristband shortly before 8pm I am drawn by some invisible force towards The Zoo, where subconsciously I know there will be a rock ‘n’ roll show that probably won’t be beaten, and before I know it, I’m watching the five lithe blues-rockers knock out a suitably raucous start to proceedings. One of the great things about each band’s set being only thirty minutes is that no time is wasted cutting to the chase, and The ‘Riggs do so with ‘Stars’ and ‘America’; the first two tracks off their latest album. Frontman Elliott Hammond is all hips and wrists as usual, and as ‘Rah Rah Radio’ is fired off into a rapidly filling venue, we all know we’re in for a good night.

The walk to Electric Playground takes about two minutes, or about the same length as one of Sydney punk-poppers Bloods‘ songs. The trio of MC, Sweetie, and Dirk are all smiles and clearly enjoying themselves as they play songs from their new EP, Golden Fang, and even manage to fit a new song in, because “we’re such professionals we’re going to play a new song in front of a bunch of industry people.” There’s something pretty special about their brand of garage-punk-pop and their vibe is infectious; a clear line runs from the earliest days of Brat-pop in the fifties, to classic punk bands like The Ramones, and through to the best of nineties girl alt-rock bands. Despite some ear-melting feedback, ‘Bodies’ and ‘No Fun’ are catchy early numbers, and the slower, more melodic ‘Back To You’ rounds things out nicely. In truth, we all could stay in Electric Playground all night and have an absolute blinder, with Dune Rats, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Bleeding Knees Club, and Regurgitator putting in appearances, but alas, my fate lies elsewhere.

Next comes possibly the most diabolical timetable clash of the whole deal, as Billy Bragg, Mining Boom, and Yukon Blonde all play at the same time (I’m not concerned with Cub Sandwich, or whatever they’re called now). As I stand in the static queue to see Billy Bragg and am told by a staff member that Bakery Lane is at capacity, I recall the words of Bragg himself from his earlier keynote. “If you want change, it’s your responsibility, not mine,” and “Singer-songwriters can’t change the world. The only people who can is the audience.” With this, I immediately decide to leave the queue and go see relative newbies Mining Boom at Ric’s, and am almost instantly glad I did.

One of the first of several top performances by Perth bands this year, their set is a ragged, charming, and eccentric mix of self-conscious indie-rock stoner beauty and unassuming pop melodies. Opener ‘Craigie’ may be the best song played by any band anywhere tonight, or anywhere this year. With lines like “One day I will bash that cunt, and it won’t be pretty and it won’t be fun, but one day I will bash that cunt,” it’s a song that will stay with you a long time, and ‘Telecom’ is a wonderfully scratchy ode to the “fifty buck cap and unlimited texts”. If you weren’t one of the thirty or forty or so people here tonight, I’m tellin’ ya – you missed out. Sorry about that.

Back at The Zoo, Stonefield are getting ready to be the loudest band here tonight, and they proceed to be just that. The four sisters from Victoria step onto the stage in front of a large and sweaty audience and with singing drummer Amy Findlay taking the front-woman role for the initial part of the set, the band kick into crushing opener ‘Blackwater Rising’ and all of a sudden I want to drink harder, rock harder, and break out my The Doors and Jimi Hendrix records. New single ‘Put Your Curse On Me’ rocks in a similar fashion to their earlier tracks, and just when you think Amy’s voice can’t possibly take any more, she cranks up the action several notches more for a colossal finish.

Stonefield
Stonefield

The fight to get into Electric Playground to see King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard isn’t one I’m ever going to win, so it’s back to Ric’s I go for a dose of dark indie-rock courtesy of Bad//Dreems. I’m going to say it here and now – these guys were the highlight of the first night of BIGSOUND. Yeah, they look like a bunch of bogans who just finished a shift carrying bricks at a building site, but they’ve got the tunes and an us-against-the-world attitude that, when combined with the sticky, almost unbreathable air and electrical-cables-lying-in-puddles-of-beer aesthetic of the front bar, it makes for quite the show. At times they might seem to opt for sheer brutality of sound from their traditional two guitars, bass, and drums set-up, but on songs like ‘Chills’ they show they can really play, and the barrage of noise that blasts the audience’s ears during closer ‘Caroline’ comes as one of those moments in which you wouldn’t trade places with anyone in the world.

Money For Rope are a Melbourne band whose surf-rock and dual-drummer sound is perfect for a venue like The Zoo, and in front of a large crowd they put in a hair-twirlingly energetic set. Mostly featuring songs from their excellent debut album, like second track ‘Easy Way Out’, their tunes take from the best of the classic rock bands like The Who and The ‘Stones, and chuck in liberal doses of flailing limbs and sweat.

Thursday night’s gig-going starts off at The Zoo once again, with Canberra’s Fun Machine. Covered in enough glitter to partially blind the growing audience, the band confidently flow through their first show in Brisbane like a pop-punk version of Scissor Sisters in hotpants. It’s a good warm-up for their upcoming shows to launch new single ‘Naked Body’.

It somehow seems strange that it’s taken until now for me to darken the door of Oh Hello! and the Triple J Unearthed stage, but Brisbane’s own pop up-and-comers Major Leagues provide enough of a draw to pull me in. Sometimes when I see them play, I want to turn the vocal volume up a couple of levels, but ultimately their understated approach is part of their appeal. Single ‘Endless Drain’ is a high point, as are the guitar lines on ‘Teen Mums’ as the packed venue heaves and sweats in unison with the band’s sweet melodies.

Over at Ric’s Sydney’s Born Lion are embarking on some sort of jazz odyssey and spewing out words that sound suspiciously like Percy Sledge’s ‘When A Man Loves A Woman’. “When a man loves a woman, he just wants to fuck her,” apparently, although this approach quickly gives way to an indecipherable wall of scream-y, squally, no-frills punk-in-tight-pants noise and head-banging that has the small venue packed to the gills once more.

By this stage Oh Hello! is rammed for The Love Junkies, and it soon becomes clear why, as the Perth trio put in the performance of night two. Relentless and raucous from start to finish, the retro rockers fill a set with bluesy grunge and rock riffs and plenty of energy from the off, and as early as second track ‘Black Sheep’ it feels like a fire has been lit under the arse of BIGSOUND and something is about to explode or go deaf, or both, despite a broken string on lead man Mitch McDonald’s guitar which flails like a windsock in a gale for the rest of the set. “My guitar is being temperamental, but we’ll all laugh about it after,” says McDonald, before unleashing another maelstrom of noise. Many a set of ears will be hurting for days because of these guys.

Back at Ric’s Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys – clearly a touch uneasy at playing at an industry event – are being heckled by their audience to produce business cards to share around. “We’re selling analogue business cards. They come in the form of T-shirts and cost fifteen dollars,” they announce, while New South Wales six-piece The Walking Who are making good use of the awkward layout of The Press Club by compacting all their members onto the tiny stage with little room to spare. Their bluesy psychedelic rock might be better suited to a venue like Ric’s or The Zoo, but their kaleidoscopic jams are strong enough to carry them through, with second track ‘Have You Seen The Colours?’ being a particular highlight, before a long, smooth, fuzzed-out jam sees them finish up. Over at a throbbing Bakery Lane The Jungle Giants have the audience bouncing with songs from their new LP, and once again I’m most impressed by the classy guitar moves of Cesira Aitken, as well as her fondness for pulling goofy facial expressions when wringing out the notes.

It’s at this stage that my evening goes temporarily awry as, after my mate and I buy a beer back at Ric’s I am accosted by a menacing big skin-headed bastard claiming to be a plain-clothes policeman and threatening to do all kinds of damage to my extremities if I don’t show him what’s in my jeans pockets. Refusing to do so unless he produces his police I.D. only gets him more fired up and in my face, and while I’m pinned to the bar and trying to casually sip my beer and appear nonchalant while inwardly shitting bricks and expecting a glassing or head-butt at any second, security guards step in after what seems like an age of illogical arguing and psychological to-ing and fro-ing. The bonehead so-called Constable has one arm in a sling which quickly pops out and appears to be fine (Ted Bundy, anyone?) and is frantically protesting to the (calm and professional) Ric’s security guards about how I have (the plot thickens) now “stolen his police I.D.” We all go outside to sort it out, I empty my pockets to prove my innocence to the security guards and after he makes a lunge for my jeans pocket once more (which contains nothing more than my wallet and timetable), he is removed from the area and I go back inside to down my beer and be thankful for the fact my nose is still pointing in its usual direction.

After a suitably angry blast of hardcore punk from Melbourne lads Clowns helps to clear my head, it’s back to Oh Hello! for the grand finale, Kingswood; and what a finale it is. The Melbourne rockers follow the trend of cutting to the chase with opener ‘She’s My Baby’, and are uniformly pumped and energetic throughout, despite guitarist Alex Lasta being chair-bound due to an unspecified injury. By fifth track ‘Ohio’ the sense of BIGSOUND soon coming to an end has unleashed desperate last-ditch attempts at crowd-surfing, and as singer Fergus Linacre’s spirit bottle is passed around and downed by the hardcore at the front, the volume is cranked up to eleven. A sublime cover of ‘Jolene’ is only bettered by closer ‘Medusa’, and we all file out of Oh Hello! not yet ready to go home.

KINGSWOOD
KINGSWOOD

To sum up, what can I say? BIGSOUND – you’ve done it again. Personal highlights were Mining Boom, Bad//Dreems, and The Love Junkies, with honourable mentions for Bloods and Kingswood. In saying that, last year I picked The Preatures and King Cannons as the cream of the crop, and in the last couple of weeks, one of those bands has played arenas for the first time and the other broke up, so one of these bands is probably going to do really well, and another is fucked – good luck guys. I’m off to get my ear-drums sewn back together. Well played, everyone.

Live review: BIGSOUND Live – Fortitude Valley, Brisbane – September 2012

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Those who fear commitment must love BIGSOUND Live; it’s the music festival equivalent of speed-dating. There’s barely enough time to get comfy with a band or venue before being whisked off to another to be overcome with a brand new feeling of admiration or excitement all over again. It’s also a festival that provides endless opportunities for good times. Got your schedule, wristband, and beer money? Then let the games begin…

Wednesday 12th September

The BIGSOUND timetable causes strange things to happen in the Valley’s entertainment precinct. Like unnatural tidal phenomena, waves of people wash in and out of the twelve venues every twenty minutes like clockwork, beaching themselves in a rush to get to the action before heading off to check in somewhere else. Doorways are crowded, stairwells filled, and alleyways transformed into heaving masses of humanity, eager to suck in the atmosphere before it dissipates for another year.

Ric’s bar is filled to bursting as Jeremy Neale kicks off proceedings, with punters scrambling for vantage points or watching from outside. Despite announcing to the audience that he has lost his voice, his vocals and indeed the entire band sound tight and focussed, as they bob their heads to the side in unison and knock out some bangin’ ’60s-flavoured pop, with plenty of wide grins from the man himself. Fifth track ‘Darlin’’ proves to the be the highlight of a jaunty and jumpin’ party-starting set.

A quick dash up the Black Bear Lodge stairs later and I am greeted with the ever-good voice of James Walsh, playing his band Starsailor’s ‘Good Souls’. “Welcome to BIGSOUND everyone!” he offers the growing audience in his deep Wigan brogue, before playing ‘Barcelona’; a new song in the talented vocalist’s arsenal. Starsailor classic ‘Silence Is Easy’ still sounds fantastic, before a charming cover of Springsteen’s ‘Hungry Heart’ provides a pleasant surprise.

Over at the Zoo in Ann Street, Sons of Rico are setting up to a sparse audience, before a sudden influx of wrist-banded people semi-fills the venue. As the band launch into the rocking ‘Miss Adventure’ and benefit from the quality of the venue’s sound system, sporadic dancing breaks out in front of the stage, and there are definite hints of head-nodding across the rest of the audience. Threatening to break into an all-out heavy-psych jam at one point, the quintet round off an impressive set with radio-staple ‘This Madness’, leaving me thinking that their album doesn’t do the band’s abilities justice.

Barely an hour has passed and it’s time for band number four: slacker-rockers Bearhug, who are tackling the awkward layout of the Press Club. It’s not the best venue for live music, given that a massive fan/propeller blocks out the stage, but the five Sydneysiders don’t seem worried, immediately kicking off a slow, groovy jam as the venue absorbs punters from the street. Fourth track, the West-Coast-flavoured ‘Angeline’, ups the pace and gives the dual guitars and military-precision drumming a chance to shine. Jesse Bayley can fire off a solo with the best of them, and he does so on ‘Over The Hill’, before the final tune, the Pavement-esque ‘Cinema West’ is introduced as being a “song that a 55 year-old woman told us was shit.” Shit it definitely isn’t, as the set finishes to ringing applause from all around.

Back at the Zoo, Sydney’s post-rock folkies Winter People are making a politely-ethereal noise. The girls’ dual violins add a touch of country to the band’s sound, and frontman Dylan Baskind is as humble a musician as you will find. “BIGSOUND is like being at a gourmet food buffet,” he announces. “So many options, and you chose us: minced cabbage.” If you haven’t caught them live yet, do so, and get your filthy paws on their Gallons EP while you’re at it – these guys are something special.

Déjà vu is setting in as Black Bear lodge beckons once again, this time for Melbourne’s bastards of blues-rock, The Delta Riggs. The energy reverberating around the small venue multiplies many-fold as the cocksure five-piece take the stage and roll out one of the rawk-iest performances of the evening. Frontman Elliott Hammond is all hair, hips, and swagger, as he leads his band in a one-two attack of high-tempo rockers, before breaking it back down for the disgustingly-groovy ‘Mary’. Introducing ‘Money’ as a “song for all you cunts out there”, Hammond proceeds to improvise the lyrics in an extended jam, coaxing the pumped audience into a giant sing-a-long of “holy guacamole, we got chips!” before announcing that everybody present is “now in the band”.

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The luxury of staying in the same venue is a welcome relief as next up at Black Bear is Sydney quintet The Preatures. They again draw a large, energetic crowd, and it quickly becomes clear why. As the band take the stage and kick their blend of gothic rock ’n’ roll into gear, any semblance of journalistic professionalism I have floats out the door, as I’m too mesmerized by the performance of singers Isabella Manfredi and Gideon Bensen to take notes or even really care why I’m here; the performance is that damn good. Manfredi has an impressive range and works the crowd like a dream; flicking her hair and making eye contact with the front rows, before Bensen opens his mouth and lets out a sound that you would expect to hear from an old delta bluesman, not a 20-something bloke from New South Wales. I come back to my senses in time to realise ‘Take A Card’ is a fantastic track, and hear Bensen announce their last song ‘Hero’; a newly-written tune. The Preatures are my undisputed live highlight of day one; simply fantastic.

Maybe I’m still buzzing on a Preatures-induced high, but over at Winn Lane Velociraptor’s performance seems a little sub-par. That’s not to say they don’t still wipe the floor with most of the other acts on the bill, but maybe it’s frontman Jeremy Neale’s voice or the reduced crowd interaction from being on a raised stage, but the guys and girl aren’t as chaotically-brilliant as usual. Reduced to a ten-piece as the DZ guys are in the States, they nevertheless power through ‘Hey Suzanne’ and ‘Riot’, among others, and provide an interesting spectacle to look at, as always.

All that’s left for day one of BIGSOUND is to go through the airport levels of security into Oh Hello! and catch King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, who have no hesitation in cranking out an unholy racket from the get-go. The Melbourne eight-piece launch into a tangled, crunching mass of psychedelic punk with energy by the truckload, as songs like ‘Black Tooth’ and ‘Dead-Beat’ encourage the crowd-surfers and pogoing punks to bounce around like chimps on speed. Having just realised their debut album, the band are clearly riding high and full of confidence, as they provide an ear-drum-splitting finale to Wednesday night.

Thursday 13th September

The working day passed me by as if I was stuck in suspended animation between two zones of music festival awesomeness, punctuated only by a quick lunchtime blast of tunes at Jamie’s Espresso in James Street with Streamer Bendy, who put in a fine performance of shout-y pop-rock in the early-afternoon sun.

Eight o’clock comes around again, and I find myself at Magic City for the first time, to take in another band who have just released their debut record: Split Seconds. Looking lean and mean, the Perth boys put in a fine set filled with songs from You’ll Turn Into Me. The venue quickly fills up by the end of first track ‘Security Light’, despite the doors only being opened at 8pm on the dot (bad decision Magic City!) ‘Maiden Name’ follows, then the catchy-as-fuck ‘Top Floor’, followed by ‘She Makes Her Own Clothes’, which frontman Sean Pollard laughingly describes as being “about the joys of sewing”. The only way to finish is with the always-excellent ‘All You Gotta Do’; the band leaving the stage to well-deserved thunderous applause and satisfied smiles from the audience.

A quick duck into the Black Bear Lodge to hear the pop delights of former Go-Betweens members Adele & Glenn (Adele Pickvance and Glenn Thompson) is followed by a dash down to the Zoo to catch Hey Geronimo. A huge crowd is there to see the Brisbane indie-poppers, as they begin getting hips moving with the opening bass-line to The George Baker Selection’s ‘Little Green Bag’, before launching into their own ‘Carbon Affair’, followed quickly by ‘Dreamboat Jack’. At this point I’m considering chucking my beer away and jumping around like an idiot, the quirky ‘60s-flavoured pop tunes coming from the stage being so infectious, but I settle for tapping a foot and grinning from ear to ear. ‘Co-Op Bookshop’ follows next, as the boys put in one of the funnest and most upbeat performances of the night.

Next it’s into the depths of the sparsely filled Alhambra Lounge to catch a short burst of Sydney’s Underlights. As I arrive they are pumping out impressive waves of bluesy psychedelia, building the sound into a wall of noise that reverberates around the brick interior of the club. However, it’s at this point that my evening is temporarily derailed as my iPhone decides to fuck itself (thus losing my BIGSOUND schedule) and I have to go outside to make a call to fix it, and miss the rest of the set. Damn you, technology!

Back at the Bakery Lane stage, Dubmarine are making sure everybody is dancing frantically with a range of high-energy, pumping dub and dance tracks. Blasts of trombone and synths rain down on the energetic crowd as the energy levels remain high. The fact that they are late replacements for an unwell Owl Eyes has left a few confused people wondering what is going on. One guy sees me writing and we have the following exchange:

Guy: “Is this Owl Eyes, mate?
Me: “Umm… no.”
Guy: “Who is it?”
Me: “Dubmarine.”
Guy: “Who?”
Me: “DUBMARINE.”
Guy: “Oh, I was wondering why they didn’t look like Owl Eyes!”

I should probably try to be more friendly to strangers. Anyhow, a quick stretch of the legs back up Ann Street and Oh Hello! is the location, catching Courtney Barnett’s set the aim. But alas, the bouncer rules that my mate is too hammered and refuses him entry. We decide to take a punt on the Press Club – where the door staff are either much less diligent or much more accommodating, I’m not sure which – and have a look and a listen to the pixie-like Elizabeth Rose. The venue is packed with punters, musicians, and Triple J faces alike; all ready to hear the young Sydneysider’s synth and vocals solo show. If she is nervous it doesn’t show at all, as tune after tune of multi-layered electronica is reeled off, accompanied by her confident vocals. “It’s my first time at BIGSOUND and I’m loving it!” she tells the audience, before kicking into her remix of ‘Foreign Language’ by Flight Facilities, her eyes closed as she puts everything into the vocals, while twiddling several knobs and pushing buttons at the same time.

The only knobs that King Cannons twiddle at Winn Lane are the ones that turn their amps up to eleven. As straight-forward a rock show as you will see; theirs is also one of the most exciting. Striding onto stage like men (and woman) on a mission to be your favourite band, they start into ‘Stand Right Up’, peeling off the committed, everyman style of blue collar rock they have made their trademark. I already know this is going to be the highlight of the entire BIGSOUND Live festival.

“If you feel good, clap your hands!” yells singer Luke Yeoward, and the crowd respond in unison, before the music rolls over into ‘Call For Help’, with Lanae Eruera’s bongos setting off the dual-Fender and piano riffage nicely. ‘Take The Rock’ is next; the chorus part of “Blow it up! Tear shit up!” sounding like possibly one of the best drunken sing-along songs you’d ever want to hear at a festival. ‘Too Young’ follows, another rousing track from The Brightest Light, as sweat pours in rivers from Yeoward’s face and the energy of the audience shows no sign of lowering. ‘The Brightest Light’ and ‘Too Hot To Handle’ are next, without a drop in energy level; the latter morphing into a galloping cover of ‘Rockaway Beach’. Just when I think this set can’t get any better, they go and play a Ramones song. HELL YES.

The closer for King Cannons sweat-drenched set is ‘Teenage Dreams’, the reggae-influenced rhythms allowing the band to have a bit of a jam, chucking in a few bars of ‘Pressure Drop’ by Toots & The Maytals in a singularly epic finale. The appreciative roar from the audience is massive, and with ringing ears and in the knowledge that I’m unlikely to hear anything better tonight, I set off towards the Mustang Bar.

Mia Dyson’s band are setting up in the partially-full venue as the lady herself chats to fans by the pool table. Looking like an ‘80s Annie Lennox and carrying herself with the confident air of a well-travelled performer, Dyson grabs the audience’s attention with her bluesy, whisky-throated drawl and ability to shred with the best of them. Introducing ‘Jesse’ as a “song about adoption”, before summing up her BIGSOUND experience as “having no idea what to expect, but this is lovely,” she then counts in the first track from her new album The Moment, ‘When The Moment Comes’, which she makes sound effortlessly stylish.

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Trudging back to the Press Club for one last set, I realise BIGSOUND Live is almost over. Tired but happy, I fight my way through the crowd waiting to see Drunk Mums. As they start to play in their raucous pseudo-anarchic style, I scribble the words ‘they look like a bunch of hyper, bogan speed-freaks, pissed off ‘cos they’ve had their hubcaps nicked,’ and that, to me, makes some kind of perfect sense. Their set is a glorious mess of scrappy garage-punk songs, mullets, and blood (the skinny, shirtless one covered in marker pen scrawl keeps punching himself in the mouth). As the sweaty, aggro-fuelled set is coming to an end, a scuffle breaks out to the side of the stage as a BIGSOUND bouncer jumps on a guy who was apparently going a bit too far with the argy-bargy on the dance floor, and they roll around, locked in a loving embrace on the floor for a while until the punter realises he‘s defeated. Girlfriends inevitably get involved, handbags come out, there is shoving and confusion, and I decide it’s time for me to call it a night and go home. To the taxi rank, home, and into bed with ringing ears I go, happy after a night of great music and good times.

So, what to say in summary about this fantastic festival? The first thing is that I had a damn good time. The second is that it was put together brilliantly. In fact, probably the only thing worth debating is which bands played the best sets (King Cannons and The Preatures in this writer’s opinion.) Kudos to the organisers, and the volunteers, and the venue staff who made it run so smoothly; you guys did a bang-up job. But most of all, thank you to the more than 120 bands who made us forget the world for a short, but glorious time. BIGSOUND 2013 can’t come soon enough.