On 14 December 1988, 4ZZZ was taken off air and forcibly evicted from its UQ premises by the then student union executive, headed by one Victoria Brazil. The move prompted many previously apolitical students to take a firm stand against the move and to rally support for the station. While Zed was not to return to the premises its' volunteers had helped hand-build, unprecedented community support saw the station live to fight another day.
BIGSOUND LIVE 2012
The Good Ship kick off the first night of Bigsound Live over at the outdoor QMusic stage with their track, ‘A Harbour Fair’. Although the crowd is small, the vibe and energy is plentiful and the strumming banjo and passionate singing quickly has everybody clapping and dancing together. After an upbeat set, they close things off with ‘Don’t Kiss Me With Your Lips’ from their debut album Avast! Wretched Sea.
Even this early in the night, Rics is near capacity as Jeremy Neale performs, this time under his own name. The band is smaller than one might be used to with Neale, but they’ve still managed to pack 5 (very dapper) musicians onto the tiny stage. The songs have more than a hint of Velociraptor, with the same noisy retro-pop foundation, but here the pop edge is much keener and there’s a little less ramshackleness. Always one of the happiest looking frontmen in Brisbane, he keeps a very genuine grin plated on all through a great set.
Caitlin Park start things off a treat at the Alhambra Lounge. The empty floor fills up quickly with folks keen to catch her brand of sweetly tuneful indie-folk, alt-country and indie-electronic quirks. Her cover of the theme from The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air is especially disarming.
Brisbane’s infinitely cool all-girl garage pop quartet Go Violets rev up the early birds at Triple J’s Unearthed stage, proving that ye olde faithful tambourine and a sassy crimp never do go out of style. Early tracks ‘Shake a Leg’ and ‘Runner’ quickly liven the crowd up as the girls show off their suave and melodic creations, the positive atmosphere highly infectious.
Henry Wagons performs a compelling sound check, to audience applause, back at the QMusic stage, before returning a few minutes later for the performance proper. Wagons puts on a great alt-country set, his strong voice and simple, but catchy, guitar lines keeping the audience focused (at least the part of it that’s there to actually listen to the bands and not to network). It’s his sense of humour that sets him apart though, with wonderful banter woven into the songs themselves, not just between them. Performing solo, Wagons uses foot stomps as occasional emphatic drum beats - a surprisingly effective form of percussion - and as he moves between the four mics on stage, he keeps the crowd and the sound techs on their toes.
With so many bands, in so many different venues, you’re always rushing off to the next venue with no time to spare. Reaching the inside of Magic City, the room is already filled with a massive crowd as Flume begins his set with a nice remix of ‘Gravel Pit’. As it progresses he drops in party banging dubstep, wonky, bass music and more, but it’s his big single ‘Sleepless’ that has the crowd head banging and cheering.
Captivating duo The Falls deliver a compelling performance over at Oh Hello. There’s an unmistakable strength in the heart of their melodies, which forces listeners to put down their glasses and take note and, as heartbreaking track ‘Into the Fire’ ends the set, there’s more than a few jaws dropping at the band’s quality.
Black Bear Lodge often provides a refuge in the Valley, and even tonight, with the venue mostly full, it still feels surprisingly cosy as Kira Puru & The Bruise deliver a stunning set of blues rock. In previous performances the band has seemed slightly incongruous, vocalist and band not quite on the same page, but tonight it gels. Puru’s powerful jazz-style voice is expressive - full of passion and rage - and the music has a faintly threatening edge that enhances the emotion and proves that their skill has caught and perhaps surpassed their reputation.
Rufus play to a packed Magic City, and it’s interesting to note the differences in audiences between the venues. There are certainly a lot more fake tans, sunglasses and chewed lips here than in any other crowd tonight. Rufus are significantly better live than on record, dropping some of the over-produced gloss and adding a bit of grit to their electro-rock. It’s a tight set, very well performed and the crowd seems solidly onside, dancing away in the limited free space.
Winter People at the Zoo put in a pleasing performance – they might have two very cute violinists but the Corrs comparisons stop there. Their mix of alt-country, indie-rock and thundering post-rock is innovative and they pull it off with panache, to the delight of the crowd. Only once, at the Zoo, did I notice two girls chatting, oblivious to the music throughout the set. Well, bad luck for them, they missed out on a treat.
Ball Park Music take over at the Zoo and it isn’t surprising to see them draw in a huge crowd of fans. The group play some crowd-pleasing numbers, replete with harmonising vocals and a crazy up-tempo vibe, but when Sam Cromack begins the chords to ‘iFly’, the crowd really goes hectic. Hands are in the air and people are jumping – there’s so much motion that the floor to The Zoo feels about ready to collapse from all the excitement.
Watching locals Violent Soho at the Q Music stage is great, the band energise the crowd and you can feel the Brisbane pride swelling amongst the punters, as they provide exactly what was expected: damn good unreconstructed 90s crashing guitar. Wandering back from Winn St, there’s even a bit of celebrity-spotting going on, as Daniel Johns makes his way up Ann St, part of, yet apart from, the festivities.
Pigeon continue to wave the electro-rock flag at Magic City, and though they’re playing to a slightly reduced crowd, they put in a very convincing performance. After catching them at Red Deer, they seem a little restrained by the comparatively small stage, but frontman Danny Harley still manages to bounce around and his energy pulls the audience along. The punchy 4/4 beat and slightly twisted electronics combine well and the live Saxophone adds a nice analogue touch.
Breathtaking vocalist Thomas Calder joins his band The Trouble with Templeton on stage at Alhambra, enchanting the audience with a selection of tracks that span the spectrum of indie-rock and alternative folk. The young artists are downright captivating as they deliver a memorable performance, serenading listeners with both delicate melodies and ear-splitting ballads. The band certainly lives up to expectations; just ask any number of the people queuing up to shake their hands.
The night is close to ending, but Velociraptor make sure the party doesn’t stop quite yet. The band is ten people strong tonight and they’re typically raucous, but they seem tighter than usual. The large stage gives them the freedom to run around a bit and their smashing set has the sizable crowd grinning and moving with them. Cheering comes from all around as ‘Cynthia’ ends Velociraptor’s set, but as the crowd sings along to the lyrics and dances, you can see that Velociraptor are having just as much fun as they are.
Adorned in their usual envy-inducing attire, Sydneysiders Tigertown deliver beautifully rich layers of vocal harmonies and stirring percussion. Their infectious sound and enchanting chemistry hold the enthused crowd in thrall as they sway and cheer to recent hits ‘Lions and Witches’ and ‘Morning Has Finally Come’.
Thursday night begins early at Bakery Lane with a couple of drinks and some friendly chatter as we wait for Voltaire Twins to come on. As the clock strikes 8:00, the duo arrive on stage and start their set with ‘Young Adult’. The vocals of Tegan and Jaymes, delicate and harmonised, entrance the audience, particularly on popular single ‘Animalia’. Tegan dances away, barefoot, to the musical rhythms of ‘Solaris’ while Jaymes smashes out the cowbells: a great start to Thursday evening.
Kicking off the night at Rics Bar is dynamic Newcastle duo Gooch Palms who get straight down to business with leading man Leroy’s genitalia paying a visit less than one minute into the set. With Leroy’s stage antics reminiscent of a younger, more visceral Iggy Pop (fitted out with gold spandex) and drummer Kat’s cool, calm and collected nature inciting a Nico flashback, it’s easy to fall in love with the energy they create. Comparisons aside, the band are a refreshingly unique addition to the Australian punk scene whose shenanigans provoke air humping and wide smiles from the eager crowd.
Mosman Alder’s growing reputation has drawn a large early crowd down to Alhambra to check them out. It’s perhaps the festival’s best example of the occasional weird disconnect between music fans and industry, with a large cheering fan base surrounding the stage, and a large chatting crowd surrounding the bar. Mosman Alder put on a solid performance regardless, with Valdis Volodze’s singular voice sitting prominently above the impressively layered instrumentation.
Meanwhile, Geoffrey O'Connor is doing his 80s synthstar thing at The Press Club. He really does look like some kind of unlikely hero from Revenge Of The Nerds, climbing over the speaker stack to stand on top of the bar, where he croons and stares until it is uncomfortable into the eyes of one lucky(?) punter.
Back at Magic City again, The Paper Kites serenade us with their harmonised vocals. Their set features songs from both their Woodland EP and their new record Young North. The lovely Christina Lacy takes everyone’s breath away as she sings a perfect rendition of ‘Bloom’.
Oliver Tank starts off with a very jazzy number at Bakery Lane, before switching into his more traditional dream pop. Tank puts on a good performance, bringing reworked versions of well known songs, like ‘Last Night I Dreamt Everything in Slow Motion’, but he’s fighting the venue tonight and it’s a losing battle. The music is way too loud in the space, with the bass clipping and the melodies too often drowned out. It’s always nice to catch him up here, but this wasn’t a good example of what he’s capable of.
A clear high point of the evening is the first five minutes of Melbournian soul-poppers Saskwatch. Frontman Liam McGorry turns the hype up to maximum as pint-sized bolt of groovy lightning Nkechi Anele bursts on stage: a tiny girl with the voice of a 60s soul diva, dancing like crazy and singing louder than anyone else that night. The band is at its best when it is as fast and funky as possible and they throw all the stupidly high octane stuff out there first. The slower, more soulful stuff is good, but boy, when they burn, they’re on fire.
We venture back to Bakery Lane and boogie to Dubmarine as their music takes over my body and I pump out some crazy dance moves. The crowd, though expecting Owl Eyes, all seem to enjoy the last minute replacement, who blast through some of their best work, with singles like ‘Mountain’, ‘Singie’ and ‘Unconditional’ all getting an airing. As the group leaves the stage, all I can hear is the question on everyone’s lips”: “They were so good! Who were they?”
David Bridie, representing the more established side of the music scene, puts on a bravura performance in a distressingly quiet Black Bear Lodge. Showcasing a selection of new songs that he's set to record in October, Bridie’s emotive voice and presence – despite being seated behind a Nord piano and peering at the still unfamiliar lyrics – is a reminder of just how skilled the man is. ‘Shortest Day of the Year’ is a particular highlight and will be worth tracking down when the recordings emerge.
Courtney Barnett hooks up jangle-pop with alt-country and a wall of stoner-noise to impress Kyuss fans. It’s good stuff, but watching her reminds me of the previous night with King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard and how they managed to instil both clarity and subtlety into at least as much noise, qualities Courtney is a little bit short on.
Over at a packed Zoo, The Jungle Giants take the stage in front of a clearly excited crowd and as they launch into ‘Mr Polite’, their first single, everybody joins in, screaming out the words. The guitarist, Andrew Dooris, bravely dives into the crowd and surfs on a sea of hands, while the other band members rock out to popular hits ‘She’s a Riot’ and ‘No One Needs to Know’.
Super Wild Horses have packed out Rics, the crowd spilling out the exits, anxious with anticipation. The noisy Melbournian pair switch between drums and guitar for a set that blends absolute havoc and serenity. The hard-hitting guitar moments are no more powerful than the moments of haunting vulnerability and just about everyone seems on edge and in awe of their next move. Think of the focused and intense vocal relationship between Carrie and Corin in Sleater-Kinney mixed with the sweet harmonics of the Vivian Girls and you’ve got controlled chaos that’s surprisingly soulful.
Meanwhile, We All Want To have attracted a crowd to the intimate and comfy Black Bear Lodge. Performing a number of tracks from their album Come Up Invisible including ‘Shine’, ‘Ramp Up The Bleeding’ and ‘We’re Not Perfect’, the band is a crowd pleaser and people are nodding to the beat in no time. Even the bar staff seem to be enjoying themselves.
Bankrupt Billionaires play late, up in the seedy recesses of the Tempo Hotel. The sound is a real problem, a murky, fuzzy bass swallowing up the delightfully tag-teamed voices of not only Kel On Earth, but Hannah Macklin as well – a difficult feat indeed. I didn’t know Hannah had been hanging with the Billionaires, but they’ve obviously been working hard, because the synchronised dance moves are great.
The Beards round off the excitement on the QMusic stage. As they jump on stage they show off their majestic and luscious beards, pointing and laughing at the crowd of smooth and hairless faces. Their set begins with ‘No Beard, No Good’ and, while jamming out the bass, Nathaniel bends down to let the audience touch and stroke his beard. More than just a standard rock show, the band combines music with jokes and laughter to good effect. ‘You Should Consider Having Sex With a Bearded Man’ sees hands fly up into the air, before they close the set off with ‘Born With a Beard’.
Melbournians Drunk Mums are fine purveyors of chaos and, rightly, one of the most hyped bands of the evening. Not even the most intoxicated of mothers would let their daughters near this devil-may-care outfit. Their travelling tambourine man expels blood and spit from his mouth, guitarist/singer Dean snorts beer to get drunk more efficiently, shards of glass are simply unavoidable and if you aren’t privy to a flying amplifier or a foot to the face you aren’t enjoying yourself. Their performance gets 5/5 smashed whiskey bottles and earns them an army of brand spankin’ new Brisbane fans.
Bigsound Live was a fun-filled two night adventure showcasing some of the best upcoming acts Australia has to offer. Bigsound Live 2013 has a lot to live up to if it wants to be bigger and better.
Words by Chris Cobcroft, Elizabeth Irwin, Sky Kirkham, Zara Margolis, Kristy Mcmahon, Sarah Mullins, Pak Wayne Yiu
Photos by Sky Kirkham