Over 150 bands performed at Australia’s largest music conference. These were our top picks.
Every year a mothership lands in Brisbane bringing with it hundreds of excited personalities and socialites. Like the Covenant navy disembarking from its cruiser in a Halo scene, these soldiers are on a mission; a mission to do the groundwork and permeate the music consciousness… a bit like dating.
BIGSOUND isn’t any regular music festival, it’s a Hajj-like pilgrimage which sees a melting pot of workshops, talks, showcases, meetings and forums enliven the day and gigs and parties electrify the night.
My experience of the conference, as the editor of Beat, saw revelry balanced out by a media responsibility and sensitivity. I was there as much to say “hello” to publicists, artist managers, marketing heads, among others, as I was to peruse and inspect the music.
And fantastic music there was – as I caroused through the night, here are the six bands that made my journey as fulfilling as it was joyous.
The winner of the Levi’s Music Prize, the inspiring blind refugee, the inventor of an instrument; this is Gordon Koang. With as much stage charisma as music prowess, Koang performed two special sets at The Zoo – one of which I was lucky enough to witness. At once pausing time with his pure ability, it’s not long before Koang ignited the dancefloor – his traditional Neur-driven jangle rock sitting over the top of groovy basslines.
Standout track: ‘Mal Mi Goa’.
The Lazy Eyes
Koang was already on my watchlist prior to arriving in Brisbane, however, The Lazy Eyes were a name that I came across in a morning meeting – my Inertia date spilling the beans on the Sydney psych outfit. A self-confessed King Gizzard and Pond fan, The Lazy Eyes channelled all of what I have come to love of these two established outfits – echoey guitar lines and a penchant for jam. I’m not talking about the saccharine variety, I’m talking about relentless instrumental solos that continue on and on. Let the music breathe, man.
Standout track: ‘Where’s my brain’.
Arguably the most anticipated act from BIGSOUND came courtesy of electronic neo-soul outfit Electric Fields. Having just been shortlisted for the 2019 Corner Award, whether it was promoters, festival bookers or labels, the industry was circling this duo like a rabid great white. And deliver they did, vocalist Zaachariaha Fielding matching her soaring vocals with incessant groove and feel for the stage. There will be plenty more where this came from.
Standout track: ‘2000 and Whatever’.
Coming to BIGSOUND with a Melbourne head on my shoulders meant that some of the festival’s music lineup was unknown to me. Brisbane disco connoisseurs First Beige were one band that was initially out of arms reach but it only took the names Harvey Sutherland and Mildlife for my curiosity to spike. With six members in the band, First Beige take you on melodic odysseys less-populated bands couldn’t dream of. One to watch.
Standout track: ‘Desire’.
Folk-pop songwriter Nancie Schipper was the final act I saw at BIGSOUND. Performing at The Brightside in the difficult 11:30pm Thursday slot, Schipper conducted herself with the energy of a festival opener and incited a similarly enthusiastic response from her crowd. A recent finalist in triple j’s Unearthed High competition, Schipper has a special voice capable of arresting a crowd in an instant and at only 19 years of age, she’s only just realising her potential. Keep an eye on her bass player too.
Standout track: ‘When You Get Home’.
As BIGSOUND delegates discussed which bands that they would see on any given night, much of the conversation was centred around Party Dozen and their alto sax-led noise rock. Much of this list has been characterised by melodic uniformity but this outfit are by no means uniform. This is a brutal racket that recalls the genius of Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon and will stay with you for days on end. Maybe that’s the appeal, nevertheless, it was certainly a sight to see.
Standout track: ‘Sports Authority’.