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Didn’t get to Bigsound this year? Here’s what you missed out on

#SpoilerAlert: It was a lot.

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Image source: 
Leah Hattendorff

I wasn't sure what to expect arriving at Bigsound. Renowned as Australia's foremost music industry shebang it was four(ish) days of conferences, performances, and the realisation that 'shebang' is a totally underused term.
 
 It was also a cavalcade of more parties than you can possibly attend, and enough free booze to fill a tank at Sea World. While tickets to the conference and music events are open to the public, most punters seem content with tickets to the music alone. Unsurprising, but there's a great wealth of international insight to be had across the various panels and discussion, not to mention free energy drinks and coffee, because there's nothing quite like being hungover and buzzing with nervous energy at the same time.
 
The festival is spread across Brisbane's Fortitude Valley, festooned with lights, giant inflatable tentacles and a truly weird penchant for adult entertainment. It's the kind of occasion where you will find performers passing unrecognised in the street as they dash to their next gig or, likelier still, somebody else's. There is so much going on here you couldn't possibly catch every act in their entirety without missing out on some incredible upcoming names.
 
Because that is the core of Bigsound; stumbling upon bands you may have glimpsed in the periphery that are poised to break out to a much stronger audience. There are those who manage this in a big way – like Stella Donnelly, who took out the inaugural Levi's Music Prize of $25,000 – and those who we're certain to start seeing on festival lineups from here out.
 
The Teskey Brothers were a clear favourite, with swarms of fresh devotees now littered in their wake. Melbourne locals Alta delivered a grand set at the festival's closing party, and were notable in that they actually, you know, moved around the stage; seriously, you'd think many of the bands were actually stapled in place. IV League and Cousin Tony's Brand New Firebird are both acts with a huge amount of promise, though the latter gets extra points by virtue of name alone.
 
The long-gestating troubadour Andy Golledge and his band were a highlight. The man had the audience singing along from the palm of his hand, and the strength of his songwriting (and that voice) was a pleasure to behold.
 
In a darker vein, the gothic blues of Karl S Williams was utterly hypnotic, and all who caught the man in action walked away pleasantly stunned. Billy Davis and The Good Lords delivered a wonderfully varied set to a heaving, tightly packed crowd. Ocean Alley also pulled off one of the biggest crowds of the festival, but you question how much the music itself was compelling folk as the festival atmosphere; there's not much there to distinguish them from a multitude of similar acts.
 
There were established names to enjoy – the evergreen Archie Roach, Tina Arena, and the outrageously impressive Washington (my God, her next album is going to be a thing of wonder). We also witnessed a surprise set from British India, showcasing their latest material and some impressive displays of hair. But Bigsound is all about the surprises. In this regard, it was a hell of a way to throw back Bloody Marys, careen from stage to stage, and escape beneath the Queensland sun.