BIGSOUND 2017

THE FU­TURE OF AUS­TRALIAN MU­SIC IS YOUNG, LOUD AND TAKES NO SHIT. WORDS BY MATT DO­RIA • PHO­TOS BY ZAK KACZMAREK

Australian Guitar - - Contents -

For its 16th con­sec­u­tive year, the BIGSOUND mu­sic con­fer­ence and fes­ti­val dropped on Bris­bane like a flock of seag­ulls on aban­doned chips. Matt Do­ria hit the pits for three full days and nights in search of Aus­tralia’s best up-and-com­ing tal­ent.

For its 16th con­sec­u­tive year, the BIGSOUND mu­sic con­fer­ence and fes­ti­val dropped on Bris­bane like a flock of seag­ulls on aban­doned chips. Be­tween count­less catch-ups, par­ties and free bur­ri­tos, we spent three full Septem­ber days and nights travers­ing the city in search of all the best in­dus­try in­sight. From the day­time key­notes, we learned a lot about how our lo­cal mu­sic in­dus­try is evolv­ing – in short, it pays to go with your own flow, shove cyn­i­cal types to the side and em­brace change rather than fear it – but come night­fall, we stripped off our blaz­ers and slipped on our mosh shorts, stocked up on pints (an ex­cit­ing new dis­cov­ery for this shel­tered New South Welsh­man) and hit the pits with youth­ful con­vic­tion.

With a lineup notch­ing over 150 of Aus­tralia’s fresh­est and finest, it’s im­pos­si­ble to even list all the artists that blew us away: there were the care­free vibes that pop gem Ruby Fields brought, the pun­ish­ing riffs and cal­lous mosh fuel that Po­laris doled and the deep, driv­ing prog ebul­lience of sleep­makeswaves – amongst, of course, an over­flow­ing dam of acts span­ning ev­ery genre this side of Spo­tify’s HQ. We’re yet to know who’ll be lead­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of home­grown he­roes, but if their BIGSOUND sets gave us any inkling, here are some of the names we think will find their way up the food chain...

ALEX THE AS­TRO­NAUT

As up­beat as she was emo­tive, the chill-pop trail­blazer brought the fes­ti­val its most po­tent and stir­ring set – and, to that ex­tent, with only her bright acous­tic strum­ming and cozy, hon­eyed vo­cals to drive it. And though she reigned in a laid­back am­bi­ence, it was hard not to leave her set feel­ing en­er­gised and/or elated.

THE BEAU­TI­FUL MON­U­MENT

Noughties post-hard­core with a crip­plingly modern spin; axes cranked to 11, the trio of ter­ror proved that ‘scene’ ain’t dead with a throat-strain­ing show­case of cuts from their un­der­rated de­but LP, I’mTheSin. Alas, the only sin here was the lack of size in their crowd.

CLOWNS

Lac­quered in tight and thun­der­ing wal­lops from gui­tarists Rod Goon and Will Robin­son, Clowns’ venue-stuff­ing set was an ex­er­cise in

weed­ing out the week amongst us and step­ping as far over the line as those man­ning the mix­ing desk would tol­er­ate. Scuzzy punk roy­alty.

IN­TRO­VERT

The pained howls on new cut “De­cem­ber” proved that In­tro­vert’s best mu­sic isn’t even out yet. A lit­tle grungy, a lit­tle emo, just a tad hard­core and in­tensely enig­matic, In­tro­vert are ex­actly what Aus­tralia’s alt-rock scene is dy­ing for right now. Their in­evitable as­sault on the main­stream will be mer­ci­less.

JESS LOCKE

Drowsy, deep and damn en­chant­ing, the homely al­lure of Locke’s me­lan­cholic in­die melted ev­ery ounce of the our meet­ing-driven stress. Her sets were loud but de­cid­edly lowkey, the Mel­bour­nite ty­ing the in­ti­macy of an acous­tic set with the bois­ter­ous grav­ity of her full-band setup.

MADDY JANE

Jane strummed with a woodsy twang, her sprightly south­ern-tinged in­die fu­elling an in­fec­tious feel-good romp. Matched with un­end­ing en­ergy and a healthy shot of mil­len­nial re­lata­bil­ity, we’re bet­ting 2018 will see her take a Tash Sul­ta­nian leap to are­nas.

PA­GAN

Like a fist­ful of pro­sciutto chased with a shot of Cam­pari, Pa­gan were both bru­tally hard­core and bru­tally Ital­ian. Their beats were slick and sour, a vi­cious blitz of djen­tle string-bash­ing laced with ca­dav­er­ous howls cour­tesy of front­woman Nikola Bru­men. This is some me­tal my Nonna could f*** with.

POW! NE­GRO

A scat­ter­paced as­sault of screamed rap­ping, jazzy sax and puls­ing funk gui­tars stacked over glassy per­cus­sion and punky strums – noth­ing about this genre smoothie should re­al­is­ti­cally work, but god­damn it, POW! Ne­gro had their crowd in an ef­fort­less fit of pas­sion­ate danc­ing. It was im­pos­si­ble not to join.

PRESS CLUB

The fuzzy chugs of de­but sin­gle “Head­wreck” burst to life as the four-piece thrashed with in­can­des­cent in­dig­na­tion. Med­dling ki­netic pop-rock scorchers with a Vi­o­lent Soho-es­que slacker edge, these Mel­bour­nites are set for a wild na­tional break­through. TWO STEPS ON THE WATER

Equal parts pow­er­ful and po­lar­is­ing, the heavy-folk troupe threw their crowd into a roller­coaster of emo­tive chaos with front­woman June Jones cou­pling harsh, bat­tered yells with gritty acous­tic plucks be­hind a wall of whistling vi­o­lins and chimey synth.

WAAX

Some­how top­ping their stand­out set from last year, the lo­cal vibe-punks left us in a haze of sweat and delir­ium with their 30-minute on­slaught of sear­ing grunge-pop and ven­omous punk. Chris An­to­lak and Ewan Birtwell were both un­yield­ing with axe in hand, belt­ing out a tight, yet tur­bu­lent maze of riffs for enig­matic front­woman Marie DeVita to trapeze over.

WEST THEBARTON

Four gui­tars and two basses shouldn’t sound this spot­less, but as the crumbly hums of “Red Or White” and soar­ing riffs of “Mov­ing Out” proved, the septet (take a guess where they’re from) have a sur­pris­ing amount of their shit to­gether. Loud, livid and pow­ered by pale ales, their rough and ragged brand of party-punk brought out the floor-sweep­ing moshlord in even the most re­served of A&R hope­fuls.

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