Queer Radio still holds the record at 4ZZZ for the most people in one studio at a time - 18!
Preliminary Highlights Of Bigsound Day Two
Oh man, everyone who was talking about the Bigsound hangover wasn’t kidding, although I think the pizza I ate at the end of the night is what the coroner will blame when I turn up cold, bloated and dead on the slab :)
So, once again I got to far fewer of the conference sessions than I would have liked. I did get to catch Internet Freedom vs Copyright - Art Vs Commerce In The Digital Age . It wasn’t too bad: everybody agreed, fairly uncontroversially that when music, in the myriad forms it appears on teh interwebs, becomes cheap and convenient enough, then people won’t pirate (as much). Certainly if Spotify weren’t enough evidence, in and of itself, it mirrors my own experience in other mediums, such as computer gaming, Steam sale, anyone? I think Ruuben Van Den Heuvel from Gateway Entertainment was trying to sum things up in a positive manner when he said that folks at all levels needed to stop focusing on rights, just get back to making money and feel privileged that you’re in the industry and, say, as a band you get beer money for playing a gig on a Friday night. I hope I’m not misquoting him there (I was in a cloud of Bigsound hangover), but it seems to me that the worst parts of the industry have been built on that mentality: the majors got the labour of young musos, essentially for free, and the wealth of these corporations was built by an endless stream of young bands, most of whom never saw much more than beer money. Isn’t the current levelling of the playing field an opportunity to develop a new model, before big business works out how to dominate the online music industry?
Speaking of young bands working for beer money, I left my mistrusting nature at the door to be carried away by the second night of Bigsound Live. First up I caught Geoffrey O'Connor doing his 80s synthstar thing at The Press Club. He really did 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 crooned and stared until it was uncomfortable into the eyes of one Alex Iveson; I’ve read that G-O’C is pretty-much legally blind, so I’m not sure that he knew Alex was a bloke, anyway, Alex was transfixed for the duration and lightly covered by a sheen of sweat afterwords.
One of the acts I was most excited to see was Oliver Tank over at Bakery Lane. His gently floating vocals and minimal electronica are, in the manner of James Blake, effortlessly moving and stylish. Sadly, there’s no way to put this other than to say it was a disaster. The sound was stuffed: the bass and some of the samples annihilating the rest of the mix and he couldn’t seem to make the rhythms of his songs hold together. I dunno what happened, he didn’t even make it to the end of his thirty minute set, but I want to give the bloke a free pass on this one because I really do like his music an awful lot, usually.
My absolute high point for the evening was the first five minutes of Melbournian soul-poppers Saskwatch. Frontman Liam McGorry turned the hype up to maximum and pint-sized bolt of groovy lightning Nikechi Anele burst on stage: a tiny girl in an even tinier dress, dancing like crazy and singing louder than anyone else I heard that night. The video I’ve linked above is about half as good as what I witnessed (they’ve really been working on that stage show), same dress though… . That band is at its best when it is as fast and funky as possible and they threw 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.
Courtney Barnett hooked up jangle-pop with alt-country and a wall of stoner-noise to impress Kyuss fans. I do like her stuff but watching her reminded 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 was a little bit short on. I did appreciate her noting how much nicer the place smelt (there was a cotton candy machine wafting out a very pleasant odour) than the previous night when someone hurled directly on to the bar and literally stank the entire joint out: “It smelt like spew, didn’t it?” A shared and sentimental recollection.
My last stop for the evening was with the Bankrupt Billionaires up in the seedy recesses of the Tempo Hotel. It really made me remember fondly just how good the sound had been on the first night, because a murky, fuzzy bass was swallowing up the delightfully tag-teamed voices of not only Kel On Earth, but Hannah Macklin as well and let me tell you, that’s difficult to do. I didn’t know Hannah had been hanging with the BBs, but they’ve obviously been working hard, because the synchro dance moves were great. Actually Kel’s voice is slightly bigger than Hannah’s but when it came to the moves, Hannah's got it going awwwn! Whatever the sound was like, it was a good way to finish another large, messy evening at Bigsound.
- Chris Cobcroft.